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Ending Chronic Overthinking with Concept Mapping

The Best Way to Overcome Paralysis from Analysis

Have too many ideas?

I would have so many thoughts in my head that I would not know what direction to go or where to start. I would end up feeling overwhelmed to the point that I would be paralyzed with indecision.

As a chronic overthinker, I understand the overbearing stress that comes with obsessing about the tiniest details, from whether I should have smiled at the stranger who looked sad at the grocery store or why during a conversation with my co-workers, I didn't say that joke so everyone would think how fun of a person I am.

We do this overthinking because we understand the complexity of empathy and we are considerate people. We are deeply concerned about other people and how we affect them. This obsessive nature affects our personal lives and career goals as well.

Life however has variables that we cannot control and lie within a spectrum that may be difficult to conceptualize. These can be concerns around how to find happiness, how to balance family and work, and also how to make life-changing decisions that may not be accepted by those closest to us.

I love my day job of being a dentist, but I want to do something outside of that scope. I want my identity to be more than my main profession. Avoiding the inclination to niche down and understand that my 'online brand' can be more than just dentistry. I had to figure out how to move in the direction of content creation that would help me feel more fulfilled.

What is a concept map - a visual understanding environment.

Conforming to family expectations and social norms can make it difficult to think independently! It becomes difficult to think about the things that are desired much less to figure out a plan to execute it. 

The first step towards getting clarity on your thoughts and resolving the challenge of having multiple goals lies in acknowledging the dilemma. It's okay to not have all the answers at this time instead, embrace the uncertainty and view it as an opportunity for personal growth.

timed concept mapping

Concept mapping can be a therapeutic session. I suggest timing it so the input is unedited with no time to overthink. By the end of my concept mappings, my doubts were replaced with clear thoughts. The idea of creating a brand of ‘me’ changed from just talking about dentistry to discussing all aspects of my life because my audience will still relate to how I practice as a dentist but more importantly how I showed up as me.

Concept mapping can provide clarity and direction as you embark on your journey of self-discovery and goal-setting.

Where to begin with concept mapping?

  1. Identify the main topic: What is the main goal or thought that is consuming you? 

  2. Branch Out: With your main goal, use phrases to branch out into specific areas of interest. 

  3. Make Connections: Draw lines to related goals to visualize the connections. This is a tool to visualize the different parts that complement each other.

  4. Prioritize: This helps you know where to start by making sorting what goals are more important. It will guide you in identifying which goals to take action on, understanding that at this point not all goals cannot be accomplished. 

  5. Assessment: A reflection point to determine an execution plan, what skills are required, resources needed, potential roadblocks, and how to overcome them.

  6. Re-evaluation: It would be a pity to formulate this plan and not circle back to it. We are all very smart people but trust me when I say, the ‘ah ha’ moments from doing a concept map are short-lived as society will try to remold us back to our original position. Re-assessments are key to evaluating progress, identifying areas to change, and most importantly getting some clarity again. 

mind mapping for beginners

Mind map examples

Concept mapping is a necessary tool for clarity. Your compass to guide you through the geography of possibilities to clarity. I have included some aesthetic templates you can edit to your needs here. 

Make a concept map

Mind mapping is a flexible and personal tool. Here are some prompts to get you started with creating a perfect map. The map will not be perfect but is a useful guide to navigate through your goals and aspirations.

how to concept map

A comprehensive concept map will help with making informed decisions about your goals. This process is dynamic, and as you grow, so will your concept map. With your plan to execute, understand pivoting may be needed, and always remember to celebrate the small victories along the way.

Your goals are within reach – map out your path and take the first step toward the life you’ve always envisioned!

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