On Research: Boldly Ignore Helpful Information That Doesn’t Empower You

I don’t know about you, but I get overwhelmed easily.

It’s easy to feel that way in the internet era. We are swimming in the sea of “helpful” information.

What matters is not how much we know, but knowing how to find the right information. That includes filtering and discarding bits that don’t help you.

As a person who is always trying to make good decisions, I do a fair amount of research on internet. Why not? Researching and exploring factors that can affect your decisions is a good thing.

Until you either acquire too much information, or encounter information that leaves you deflated and discouraged.

Let’s look at each of those scenarios in detail.

1. You have too much information.

There is such a thing as too much of good things.

Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight. You do a search on the subject and get — millions of advises. Everything from diet to exercise to self-hypnosis.

Obviously, you can’t follow all the advises. If you get to the point where you’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t keep track of all the information you’re acquiring, it’s time to stop — possibly for good.

Take a break, perhaps come back the next day, and ask yourself a question. Do I have enough information to make a good decision?

If yes, then do no further research. Trust your instinct that tells you that you have good enough picture of the situation to make a good decision.

If not, go back to gathering more information — but beware of that overwhelming feeling. You compromise your judgment and decision-making when you have that feeling. It’s possible to make a good, well-researched decision before reaching that state.  Stop your research before the information overload clouds your mind.

Sometimes, what you need is not more information, but time to digest and reflect on your decision.  Don’t always assume that what you need is more information.  Keep yourself away from more researching, unless you feel for certain that you don’t have enough information to move forward.

2) Information that doesn’t empower you.

Going back to the losing weight analogy — if you are evaluating a particular method or approach, see how the information makes you feel. If it makes you feel deflated, discouraged or (once again) overwhelmed, that is not the right approach for you. Don’t force yourself.

For example, you read that running is good for weight loss. But you’ve always hated running. You’ve tried it once or twice and found it boring. Besides, your bad knee is going to leave you with an entirely different problem, even if you manage to shave off a few pounds.

Then don’t run! There are a number of other activities that can achieve equally good results. Just because running worked for millions of other people, doesn’t mean that it works for you.

Whatever decisions you make, you need to be able to believe in it whole-heartedly. If it leaves you wondering “I wonder if it’s going to work….” then don’t do it. Wait until you find a direction that you feel excited or confident about.

So your feelings are a good indicator of whether a piece of information is useful to you. Don’t be afraid to disregard counter-productive information. It doesn’t matter who else says it works, or how many people testify that it’s true. It doesn’t mean it’s a lie. It’s just not true to you.

To sum up, researching is an act of acquiring information that empowers you to make good decisions by giving you a better picture of your issue and how to solve your problems. But internet offers more information than one can handle, and they are often conflicting. It’s not hard to get overwhelmed and/or encounter pieces that really discourage you.

When you reach that point, give yourself permission to discard that information. Ignore it, and allow yourself to forget it. You are perfectly capable of making great decisions from the information you can handle. Don’t let the amount of information overwhelm you. And similarly, if you have your heart set on doing something and your research tells you how hard or impossible that is — don’t listen! Don’t let anybody tell you what you feel in your heart is wrong. Focus on empowering pieces of information and ignore the rest. Remember that you are different from anybody else, and emitters of such information, however well-intentioned they are, don’t know you and can’t decide for you what is impossible or difficult for you.

At the end of the day, all you need to do is to be at peace with decisions you make. That is never impossible.

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