Stuck In Over-Analysis? Here's How You Can Find Your Sweet Spot (And Stay In The Present Moment)

Here's how you can find the sweet spot between "starting with the end in mind" and being present.

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A few weeks ago, amid a time of reflection, it became apparent to me that I have a tendency to put everything under the microscope. While I have embraced Steven Covey's helpful habit of "starting with the end in mind," I wonder now if perhaps I have also taken it to extremes. The reason I say this is that sometimes, I can lose the joy of the moment. I can lose being fully present and just having fun, without the need to critique or carry out due diligence on every thought, idea, situation, relationship etc. that enters my life.

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There's a reason I put things under the microscope, however. And that's because I am so focused and determined to not waste time. I want to make conscious decisions underpinned by my personal mission statement, and aligned with my highest set of values. One personal value which puts me in my "sweet spot" being of contribution- either to others, myself, or a cause that I believe in. Therefore, I tend to filter decisions through this, to fulfill the essence of what I want my life to represent.

This way of living and thinking has served me well most of the time. For example, I am not one to waste months and months on something or someone I don't believe in. I look ahead at the fruit, and decide whether it's something I want to continue to give my energy to. However recently, during a time of reflection, I noticed that in my endeavor to know all the answers, to analyze everything, and to put every idea, thought, or relationship through scrutiny also means I can lose the present moment. The truth is that, sometimes, I don't need to know whether something has the longevity to serve me in the long run. There is happiness and fulfilment in not having everything figured out.

Perhaps you over-analyze every decision too. Perhaps you too find yourself stuck in the future picture versus the current moment. By my own admission, I am trying to find this sweet spot between "starting with the end in mind" and being present. I am trying to not be so critical and detailed in each and every choice so that I can perhaps relax a little and enjoy the moment.

I decided to catch up with Dr. Russell Kern to share his perspective on finding the sweet spot between life, work, and decision-making in a way that sustains fulfilment. Russell is a scientist and is the Executive VP and CSO at International Stem Cell Corporation. He balances a busy life while finding medical breakthroughs. As someone who is used to analyzing things under a microscope, I wanted to gather his perspective on how to be less analytical and tactical in life. Not only has Russell gained business and medical respect within the industry, but he's also had to become a student of personal growth in the process.

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Here are excerpts from my conversation with him:

Dr. Russell Kern, Executive VP and CSO, International Stem Cell Corporation. Source: International Stem Cell Corporation

How have you found the sweet spot of creating a life you love while also championing groundbreaking medical solutions?

Thank you- I love this question. Work/life balance is key. Always make time for both, so that you can stay sharp and focused. Since I work on various projects concurrently, I believe that keeps my mind sharp and motivated. With that said, I do find myself coming up with some of my best ideas while away from work. When you do something that is your true passion, it becomes part of your life. I don't necessarily separate the two, but I do make time for both separately, so I can focus when I work.

How have you managed to enjoy the moment while running a company that is constantly finding solutions to problems?

I believe finding solutions to problems requires a lot of imagination. My team and I can sit for hours discussing solutions to problems- then, we move forward with a plan. There's a level of anxiety when waiting for results, but when those results come, that's what I live for. I don't care whether the results are good or bad, I find it satisfying because it's data I can work with, and with any result, you learn something. As a lifelong student of science, you can't ask for more. As a scientist, I am very curious. It is very enjoyable when a puzzle is being put together, and we are getting answers. Most people enjoy finishing a puzzle, while I enjoy each piece of the puzzle as I put it together. The information I get from each piece of research will bring solutions to the problem at hand. For example, one of the companies I run is Lifeline Skin Care. We are always looking for cutting edge ways to improve skin health to help people look and feel great. We run through months of testing and retesting to make sure we have the right solution. At the end of the day, it's all worth it.

For someone like me who has a tendency to over-analyze everything, what are your words of wisdom to help move someone forward?

Scientists are known to be over-thinkers. You cannot think too much in science, or else you won't be able to move forward. You can't over-analyze. When you receive questions, you must promptly answer, so it doesn't leave time to over-think. Always challenge yourself, and don't second-guess yourself. Additionally, I take time to focus on each individual piece of work, while I always have various projects going at a time. Solely focusing on the task at hand helps me to precisely find an answer without second-guessing myself.

How have you managed to be present so you can enjoy the small moments despite your medical responsibilities?

To sum it up in one word: teamwork. I have a great team, and we've worked together for a long time, which gives me the opportunity to have a work/life balance. I trust and value my team, as they allow me to have this. I know when I give my team a task that they are going to successfully complete the job, without having to micromanage them. Without my team, I wouldn't have the balance I have between home and work. As the late Steve Jobs said, "It's not a faith in technology. It's faith in people." I live by that.

You've been working in the medical field for many years, and you have over 40 publications in the field of Parkinson's disease and stem cell biology. How have you managed to stay focused and hungry to keep working until you find a solution to neurological problems?

First of all, my accomplishments cannot be all credited to me. My family and team at work have a lot to do with it. I do it mostly for future generations, my children included. They are the future of this world way beyond us. With that said, I love a challenge, and I work hard. In this field, you have to enjoy what you do, and do what makes you happy. That's what keeps me focused. While I work many hours, everyone needs some R&R to refocus and reevaluate. This is why my team is so essential. I can rely on them when I need to take a break and refocus again. I'll leave you with this, "To do more for the world than the world does for you, that is success."

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