“Am I being too strict?” I asked my friend and fellow parent coach earlier this week.
“Or am I being too lenient? Am I being overprotective? Should I be more concerned about her well-being and safety in this situation?”
My internal questions that had been living only in my head, poured out into our conversation.
She listened patiently, allowing me to get it all out. And then she asked me one simple question:
“What is it that she needs?”
“Analysis Paralysis” was originally posted on January 25, 2014
My full-time job, aka my “professional” job, in its most simple state requires that I use performance metrics to tell a story of what is going on in the business. By analyzing and evaluating the numbers the story can be either positive, negative, or somewhere in between. When I present these numbers to a client, someone always wants to dig deeper. It usually goes something like “This information is good, but what if you look at performance on every other Tuesday, between the hours of 9:30 and 11:15, only in months ending with a y.” When you hear the dreaded words “what if”, you know the meeting has just derailed and may never get back on track.
In what I call my all-the-time job, aka being a mom, I am also faced with numerous situations where I have to analyze and evaluate situations and then provide recommendations for the next action. Though they sound like the same task, they’re obviously very different. As a mom you analyze, evaluate, and respond in a matter of seconds. No time for pretty charts and there aren’t weeks to prepare, you’re in the thick of it and you have to respond. You have some “data” to refer to – usually a conversation you had with a friend or an article you read online – but for the most part you go with your gut. Often the analysis and evaluation happen after when you are replaying it your head. Suddenly I am on the other side of my previously dreaded “what if”.
Many of the great things that surround us every day are the positive result of someone saying, “what if”. However often what happens is that “what if” can lead you to asking more and more questions and reading more and more articles. Then you hit a point that I call analysis paralysis. You are surrounded by so much information that you are literally paralyzed and unable to move forward as no answer seems to be 100% right. Analysis paralysis can also be where you just keep gathering data and never act on it. You think that after you get the answer to x, then you’ll have enough to move forward.
But guess what, the good news and the bad news is that life moves to fast to get stuck in analysis paralysis. It’s bad news because you’ve got to pick a road and go for it. It’s good news because you’ll realize quickly if you have to adjust your course, so you tweak it and keep going.
Seven years later, I’m still evaluating and questioning. It can appear to be never-ending and repetitive, but it is not. Every decision is a step on a spiral staircase, grounded in knowledge from the steps before. The good news is there are a lot of steps. You have countless opportunities to get it right, get it wrong, to learn, and do it different next time.
Asking yourself, “What is it that he/she needs?” can put a new slant on “what if…” or “am I being” questions. You may think the situation is best served by setting the right rules or expecting a certain type of behavior. While these are important, it will also help to look at your child to see where they are stuck. Why are they struggling and how can you meet them where they are at?
The blog from 2014 ended with four questions we can ask when we are faced with any big decision:
What if you stop worrying and trust your gut?
What if you stop stressing out and slow down?
What if you stop beating yourself up and forgive yourself?
What if you take a deep breath and relax?
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Photo by Ryan Searle on Unsplash
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.