“Measure Twice, Cut Once,” but is that Overthinking?

Although I’m not a carpenter, I have heard some carpenters say this phrase a few times, and most even used it as a hard-fast rule. If I were a carpenter, I can imagine I would definitely apply this rule. In fact, knowing me, I’d measure multiple times before cutting once. Yes, I CAN tend to overthink very often myself!

A person with an amplitude of ambition tends to pursue many things at once. This could lead to feeling overwhelmed and ultimately result in overthinking. Don’t fall victim to “Analysis Paralysis.”

By overthinking ANYTHING we can fall too easily into the trap of procrastination. Spending way too much time in the planning stages trying to fix every perceived problem that may present itself.

Before you know it, we start finding fault in our business plans; second-guessing them, and often abandoning them as “bad” ideas. Overthinking can easily change any great intention to something negative. This robs us of productivity and the ability to move forward. Overthinking exasperates us because we become too careful and unsure of ourselves and our futures.

How then can we avoid this mental quagmire?

Overthinking doesn’t lead to insight.

Most of us don’t own a crystal ball, so we can’t “see” our decision’s results. Typically, we search for insight – trying to judge what our decisions will give us ahead of time. However, if we apply pragmatic philosophy, we’d know the results are better seen by doing than thinking until we live the process out; we really never know how a decisive action will affect our lives. A life-changing event such as a marriage, a divorce, a career change, or moving to a new home will not lead to insight no matter how much we overthink. Only action will do that.

Be Brave; Take that Leap of faith!

Overthinking that actions taken could be the wrong ones that cause worry and stress. We become so fixated on not making an error in planning out every minute detail that taking a step forward causes fear and doubt. This whole process wastes time and does nothing but cause us stress. Instead of putting yourself through this, trust your judgment and take that giant leap of faith! Go for it. Accept that it may be good or bad, but you will learn from it and carry on either way. The lack of knowing what the future holds should inspire us to action, not motivate our overthinking!

Your decision is never final!

Making that great, correct, final decision that will set our lives on a permanent path of ease causes us to overthink. Realistically, this is not likely to be the case because seldom are our choices final. Things change in our lives that cause US to adapt. Most life-long decisions that create a forever path are non-existent. Overthinking is pointless. Critical thinking should be done; however, before deciding on life-changing events. Take caution that this does not become overthinking! Remember, life is a process of learning and growing from our mistakes as well as our successes.

Idleness is the Devil’s workshop!

There is probably not much more that contributes to overthinking than idleness. In fact, isn’t it a vicious circle? Idleness leads to overthinking, which leads to idleness, which leads to overthinking. STOP the world and let me off!! In a rush to create a solution BEFORE we (gulp) expose our errors, we sit on our ideas for fear of being criticized? OK, I get the survival mechanism, but please, get over this and go for it!! Get busy!! And even more important STAY busy!! Practice makes perfect, right? Perfection is the perfect goal. WHY? Because we will never reach it! But it’s a HECK of a goal to shoot for because it pretty much assures we keep busy trying.

Even a Half-Step is Good if it Moves us Forward.

Having goals, dreams, and ambitions could be incredibly intimidating, especially if you dare to dream BIG. Besides the negative rhetoric we are bombarded with from outsiders, we often get even worse from the very ones who should be our biggest supporters! Because of this, do we tuck our tails and overthink, not willing to risk that close friend or family member’s scorn?? YIKES! Please wake up and realize, we do not have to be perfect or command every single skill. Step out of the norm, stop overthinking, and take that leap forward even if that leap is a half-step! Your rhythm will increase, and your steps will expand larger as long as you continue forward. Stick to it!

Stay in the NOW!

Spending our energy worrying about that exam, that interview, that deadline, that bill that is due, that insult, or even what we will eat for dinner ALL will start the process of overthinking! We want to be as prepared as possible, right? We want to thwart boo-boo’s before they happen, correct? Heaven forbid we take a spill and open our egos up to more criticism! WRONG! Getting caught in the trap of “what could happen in the future” actually robs us of the NOW. Realize, if you will, that every productive thing anyone accomplishes happens in the NOW. Yes, prepare for the unavoidable, but keep your main focus in the present moment and remain fixated on the NOW. This will ensure you are on the path to success.

Bottom line!

Overthinking, I believe we can all agree, has the unsavory effect of slowing if not completely stopping forward progress, whether this is your personal life, your business life, or your family life. This cascades into negative emotions, short tempers, and depression. WE are left with a lack of desire even to put forth the effort to succeed. I will even go as far as to say; this will give those lazy and unmotivated an excuse they seem to seek, NOT even to try.

Thankfully, for those who DO aspire for greater meaning in life, the issue can be identified, managed, and eliminated. Overthinking is a problem that can be identified, managed, and eliminated. Stay on guard with your attitude, think about the topics above, then decide which direction you want your life to progress. Your business, your family, and your community will reflect your mindset.

About the author

Born in Illinois and the third oldest child of 10 children. Gail learned many lessons in life that would serve her well in her future. Patience, sharing, compassion, understanding, love, and acceptance were a way of life. Family is significant to Gail as a mother of three herself.
Gail lives by the motto "live and let live," and she takes pride in helping others. Educated, yes, but believes life is the best teacher and learning depends highly on an open mind.


  1. Guilty, as charged 🙂 I have a specific idea to bring out someday that I’ve written down, organized, and gone over multiple times over the past year. It’s very dear to my heart and I get very excited about it! Every time I go over the details I realize “it’s not the right time, yet” to bring it forward. So I’ve learned to keep the idea brewing and when I’m inspired, I go add to it. I stopped thinking about it intentionally, but it’s on my radar. I quit overthinking it. Now, I allow it to be and when it’s ready to be seen, I’ll shine the light on it. Great post, Gail 😍

  2. I’ve been known to over think things to much, and end right back to where I started thinking about them. LOL. It’s like Gail said, sometimes you just have to go for it, stop over thinking it, and put it into action. I’m a creature that learns from the school of hard knocks, I’ve fallen down quite a few times, but, I’m still here, maybe it’s time to do less thinking, and more action. Excellent post Gail.

  3. It is an excellent adage (and advice) to “measure twice; cut once”. If only that were my usual modus operandi! I am definitely an over-analyzer, and while that ability to see things from many different angles is extremely valuable in some instances (such as bigger life decisions), it certainly can be a hindrance in simple things like, “what do I have for dinner this evening.” I must admit that with the super-fast advancement of technology I have had to up my game on this one – in fact tech has taught me to make split-second decisions about a lot of things I would never even have imagined I’d tackle. And so in this sense, I’ve definitely honed those skills to the degree that my life is indeed simpler, more organized, and with far less time spent in the “thinking-thinking-thinking” stage.

  4. So true Gail. Huge difference between good planning, which helps you get your work day started and organized and know you have accomplished a good day’s work, as apposed to over thinking all the challenges of what could go wrong. Over thinking will sabotage your goals and leave you feeling empty.

  5. Great post Gail. I am much more impulsive than Overthinking every action in my life. Yes, it can be wrong sometimes, but I also gained so much more from this. It was more important to me not to lose those moments which I would if I started thinking all the ifs and what could go wrong. Just do it, life is too short to overthink everything. Live today, tomorrow is not a guarantee.
    Same with business, nothing will ever be perfect, since they are too many things out of our own control.

  6. Wow! This Blog really reveals alot of how I in the past have POOR [Passed Over Opportunities Repeatedly] due to fear of taking that leap of Faith! Overthinking those actions have caused worry and stress, becoming so fixated on not making an error nor getting scammed due to a past experience. I’ve learnt that its key to trust your judgment and take that giant leap of faith! You never know what lies ahead of you on the other side of that step of Faith! Kuddos to that revealing blog Gail.

  7. Great blog Gail ,Plan before you act then measure it twice,It can lead to success in any endeavor and time will not be wasted,people who think too much miss out on many opportunities in life and time gets out of their hands,get rid of anxiety and whispers,complete faith will lead to victory, I think about a lot of work at night and make plans,the next day it is implemented and they become very good. 

  8. This saying exists in several countries and languages I would say.
    Being a perfectionist I definitely tend to overthink things and can have a hard time making decisions not only in life changing situations but even with smaller matters.
    Gail is listing here some very useful suggestions to overcome this issue.

  9. Thanks for the post Gail. Wonderful as always. The line about even a half step is good if it moves us forward is excellent. Many think that they cannot do anything, so they just don’t do nothing, But there are many things at our disposal that only seem like a little step but at least it’s going forward. Like many don’t comment or use the blogs here because they think its just a small thing. We are not sure how small or big it might be, but at least we know when we do it we are taking that step forward no matter the size of the impact.

  10. Great post Gail! Our mistakes in life are our greatest learning tool. I think one tool to minimize mistakes in our life is a simple piece of paper, or in the tech world a keyboard. Writing down what you need to do for the day will be a guide for what you need to do with your day. This helps with the overthinking. You should have most of the problems solved before you even start your project. It time we take on the world and be confident in how we do it. Will mistakes happen? Sure that is what life is about. Living and learning is our goal of success.

  11. very intelligent blog posting and so many ins and outs from the writing — have been guilty too many times — as I was learning and it does slow you and then you overthink and become paralyzed — learned and practice now — KISS method — Keep It Simple Stupid — it does absolutely work — jmho —

  12. Very good post Gail I over think a lot over things that i could have done them very easy if didn’t think on it so much. I will read this post over and plan to do things a lot different so, again Gail a very good blog.

  13. Cut your coat according to your size, great blog that I have enjoyed reading, this reveals many of us when trying to make a progressive decision, with guidance and wise counsel, being overwhelmed takes the back seat.

  14. A valuable adage! My husband does carpentry work for himself (more if I start looking on Pinterest!) He has learned the hard way, to measure a couple of times – can be a very costly mistake if mismeasure. What a wonderful quote – Don’t wait for the perfect moment…… I’m going to try to keep that in the back of my mind always. Time to take action!

  15. I agree with Gail and loved the blog. If you are idle, you overthink. If you do not have a balance between life and family, I find I overthink things. I’m a planner, so to keep me moving forward, I plan things out.

  16. I had to laugh when I read your title such good advice and I think we all do it at some point in our life, I have learned to jump in and get er done in my later years and I even surprised myself a couple times, you tube videos really do wonders especially if your overthinking.

  17. Thank you Gail, this is one of the best blogs I have read here. I think many people are guilty of procrastinating, including myself, waiting for the right moment to take action. I am somewhat impulsive in somethings, but when it comes to start a project, I wait for the magic moment to get inspired like when I want to start a painting. I wait for all the conditions to line up in my subconscious to make myself ready to start and so days or weeks go by, until I sit down and just do it and many times I have found, it’s the best thing to do. I made a copy of the quote, it will remind me not to wait for the perfect moment.

  18. Another great post, Gail. l am certainly happy with a half step forward if I can take it without getting myself into trouble. It seems like that has become so much harder in recent years. My greatest tool, as simple as it is, has been to think the night before what I want to accomplish the following day and make a list of the tasks that I need to accomplish. It keeps me focused and on track and knowing that if something wasn’t accomplished that I can probably carry it over to another day. Overthinking something can put me into freeze mode where I do nothing.
    That is not a place that I want to be.

  19. Most of us can relate to your blog being on one end or the other. I, myself, like to ponder on a question or situation for a time before making a decision on how to handle it. That gives me time to look at the possibilities of either choice. If I jump right into something I find that I often wish I would have given it more thought. I don’t believe I overthink many things to the point of frustration or indecision, but that little extra time gives me clarity that I didn’t have in the beginning.

  20. I’m not a carpenter either Gail, but my mom is a seamstress who loves to work on sewing projects. he made my daughter 65 outfits when she was growing up, now only “holy jeans” will do! But talk about measuring, I think she must have worn out 10 measuring tapes sewing for my daughter. My father on the other hand is a carpenter, and he wears out measuring tapes all the time. You can waste so much time and material if you don’t “get it right” the first time – been there done that! Lesson learned (till next time!)

  21. Gail: Measuring twice and cutting one is a great idea. However , we must be careful not to go measuring 1a. 1b. 1c. etc and then the cut never happens. I’m also like many others, graduated from the the university of hard knocks and still standing. I love the phrase “Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect”. Thanks for helping me fill my half filled glass.

  22. Another Great Blog Gail. I’m very happy with a half step forward if I can take it without getting myself into trouble. It seems like that has become so much harder in recent years. I’ve been told I over think and over analyze
    but I’m trying to do better and not spend so much time analyzing but we all must think before we execute.

  23. As a former carpenter I learned early on not to be in such a hurry to finish a job. Off by a half an inch is a lopsided room and sometimes an entire building.
    A guy invited me in to his house in the mountains with some friends and was mentioning that one room, his den, was kind of funky. He place a marble in one corner and let it go. That marble shot across the room and slammed into the wall. The floor was off by three inches.
    That is a big mistake by a carpenter who was in such a hurry to finish the job. I always remember the mistake and was glad it wasn’t me that built that house.

  24. So real is your blog, Gail. I can certainly understand the overthinking as I was and am at times guilty. In some of my blogs, I write of how I have had to change my preset course to accommodate new directives. There were roadblocks and new directions that I had to refocus my mind and heart. I had to regroup and put my faith back in God’s hands and follow His path for my life. I can overthink with the best of them, but I am miserable when I do. I am happier and more focused when I do what I know to do each day, to be open and follow any nudging to do differently. Compumatrix has made such changes for better many times. God leads us in ways we do not always understand, but we come out better by following His leading. Now is all we have, so we make it the best now we can. Don’t worry, be happy!

  25. “Overthinking” is my middle name, I can never do anything or say anything if first I haven’t looked into all the details more than once.
    But it must be so if what you are doing does require a degree of certainty.
    No one is perfect they say, but if we all did not follow basic rules, a lousy world this would be.
    That perfect moment is now.

  26. Good advice. My mother and her sisters were worriers and I know they lived by that law. My mother would remind me of that law whenever I attempted something new. I remember many times my mother and her sisters dithering on what to do next.
    Whenever I’m having a difficult time making a decision and am driving everyone nuts, I just tell them that my dithering is congenital. But my mother’s advice is always ringing in my ears ,”measure twice, cut once.”

  27. I can agree with the basic idea behind the article that overthinking can be detrimental to planned outcomes. I have worked on projects that I have not realized until after I have spent long hours working on in it, that the project was best in its first hour. But there are instances where the time put into planning a project was greater than its successful outcome. Also when it comes to planning ahead, particularly to specifications, I can agree with the notion that it is better to have and don’t need than to need and don’t have.

  28. I have been told by some that I am at times guilty of putting to much thought into something and that the outcome I am looking for would go much easier if I just let things go and not analyze it too much. But I do like to take my time and think things through.

  29. I think there is a very fine line between over thinking and just double checking, so we have to make sure we do not cross it. A lot of the time overthinking causes self sabotage and does not even help the outcome of whatever you are stressing out about. This is why you need to think with logic and reason and not just overthink.

  30. this is such a great read — and so thought provoking in each n every moment of Life — 60+ years has taught me never yes never stop pushing forward — yeppers some movements may prove to be sideways or wrong — but as take half steps forward some moments check where when why and keep going forward and if you are moving forward then really honestly you can’t overthink because you are focused on forward not whats behind — jmho also —

  31. Thank you Gail, Great blog,It’s a good idea to think about it before you do anything, but too much thinking can deprive us of our good ideas and too much thinking can seriously damage our mental health,this kind of thinking will lead us from positive to negative,that way we can slow down and waste a lot of time in our work,getting started with positive thinking every day will be a success, a sign of a healthy mind and life.

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