Krzysztof Kowalczyk

Krzysztof Kowalczyk

How to stop overthinking and start working towards your goals

“How did you learn to code and to speak Japanese on your own?”

“How did you lose over 70kg all by yourself?”

“How did you quit smoking?”

I often have people ask me these questions, and I must tell you the answer to all of them is pretty straightforward — I’m just a regular person and I’m not an expert on any of these topics, I just do things.

We’re taught to think, or even “think twice,” before we act. People focus so much on trying to come up with a perfect solution that, in the end, they don’t reach their goals or even start to work towards them.

My mindset is different — I do minimum research, then I take action. Over time, I extend my knowledge and improve what’s been done so far.

My weight-loss journey serves as a perfect example — at the beginning, I didn’t know anything about nutrition, I actually still have a lot to explore in this matter. All I really knew was that I needed to lower my calorie intake, and that’s exactly where I started. As I learned more, I started improving my diet and working out. But the results were there from the very beginning — I changed significantly without being a nutritionist.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that thorough research is a bad thing. It’s just that, in a lot of cases, you can start doing something without knowing much.

Stop spending all your time researching how to learn, start learning instead! Don’t overthink it.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the word “overthink” as it’s an interesting one. The suffix “over” implies there’s an abundance of thinking, which at first glance might seem like a positive. It’s on the contrary — as they say, enough is as good as a feast.

There’s another cornerstone of this mindset — consistency. Always try to take some steps, no matter how small. Don’t focus on the end goal, it leads to overthinking.

When I started learning Japanese, I considered learning over 2000 kanji — Chinese characters — to be an impossible task. To make it easier, I decided not to look at the bigger picture and just learn them daily, in small batches. Focusing on the result rather than the action itself can and will often lead to disappointment.

You might associate the word “daily” with “a daily standup meeting,” but it’s not exactly what I have in mind.

I grew up playing games, mostly from the MMORPG genre. Those games, by design, are very time-consuming — you need to spend thousands of hours to achieve something. To keep people coming back, game developers introduced the concept of daily activities — usually easy and highly rewarding challenges that you can complete only once a day. If you don’t do dailies, you lose out on a lot of potential gains. In consequence, it will take you much longer to reach your goals.

Being used to this concept, I started setting daily goals for myself. However, unlike in games, there was no immediate reward for doing them. So, instead, I told myself, “You can’t go to sleep unless you do your dailies.”

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to life, and my methodology isn’t perfect. I wouldn’t want to have a doctor perform surgery on me with a “just do it” mentality. But, in most cases, it’s best to give them a try.

Don’t be afraid of failure, it’s an important part of learning. And remember that some action is better than no action.

If you want to achieve something, get the ball rolling now and be consistent. Don’t pay too much attention to the end goal, focus on the small steps that will lead you there.

This is how I’ve learnt to code and speak Japanese, lost 70kg, and quit smoking. And this is how you can get to the finish line, too.