Welcome to Ask a Girlboss! It's our weekly advice column where real experts answer your burning career questions. Have a dilemma that needs solving? DM us on Instagram and we'll get right on it.
"How Do I Embrace My Over-Thinking Tendencies at Work?"The expert: Dr. Jacinta M. Jiménez, PsyD, BCC is the award-winning author of The Burnout Fix, a licensed psychologis, a board-certified executive leadership coach and VP of Coach Innovation at BetterUp. Here's what she has to say.
The best way to get ahead of overthinking at work is to proactively train yourself to be able to be aware of what your mind is full of by practicing mindfulness. Your perspective influences everything. If you do not focus on keeping your mind tidy, you will constantly see the world from your own filters, biases, and subjective interpretations. The more you are aware of your thoughts, the more you are conscious, alert, mindful, and informed about what you are actually experiencing. And the more you’re aware of what you’re thinking, the more you will be able to stop your mind from wandering down into an unnecessary haze of exhaustion, stress, and worry. Mindful thinking is the art and science of being aware of your thoughts so that you can select your response to make optimal choices.
Here are three ways to stop overthinking at work:
One powerful way to get around the overthinking trap is to replace concern with curiosity. This practice builds cognitive flexibility and empowers you to see issues from multiple vantage points. Ask yourself:
What thoughts am I having?
Can I trust these thoughts to be true and/or accurate?
What is the evidence for and against these thoughts?
What are other ways to think about this problem?
Another important mechanism to get around over-thinking is choosing compassion over criticism. Through this simple practice of self-compassion, you can counteract your self-critical mind from succumbing to living by double standards and re-channel your thinking to more productive outcomes.
What would I say to a friend who was in this situation and having these thoughts?
One final strategy to help with overthinking is to adjust your perspective and use it to your advantage through leveraging "future-minded leader" thinking practices. Future-minded leadership is about preparing for multiple possible futures along with the roadblocks and setbacks that may occur along the way. This isn’t predicting the future, and it’s more than just having a Plan B. Future-Minded Leaders don't think about the future as a single target on a timeline. Instead, they lean into using their psychological, cognitive, and emotional resources to envision many different future states and possible paths. Future-minded thinking practices can empower you to see the bigger picture and give you more confidence to navigate complexity on the fly.