What to do when you don’t know what to do
The time will come when you will face the daunting challenge of not knowing what do do. It might relate to your career, your marriage, or any number of things. It is unlikely that a person will not face some hard choices in life, feeling like they aren’t sure what to do next.
There are things to remember when you are feeling overwhelmed or clueless about what your next step should be. First and foremost, don’t beat yourself up for not knowing what to do. Remember, being human means we are imperfect creatures, plagued with uncertainty and questions about the world around us.
It’s best not to tackle too many changes all at once. If you’re looking for a job and trying to decide whether to stay in your marriage, slow down some. Take one step at a time, and deal with the most urgent problem first.
Making too many significant life changes at once is extremely difficult. Sometimes, it can’t be helped. However, if you have the choice, spare yourself that much stress and put off what you can.
1. Don’t Panic – Cope
There are times when it takes all of your energy to survive. However, you deserve more than simple survival. When you are in a tight spot and feeling depressed, you have to learn how to cope.
Different things work for different people. Exercise is a tried and true solution for burning off some of your anxiety. Walk around your neighbourhood, jog or do whatever you like that gets your blood pumping.
One of the significant benefits of regular exercise is that it helps you sleep. There is no doubt that worrying can keep you awake at night. Exercise can work miracles for improving your sleep and mood.
Another coping mechanism that many of my friends swear by is meditation. Once you get the hang of it, you will notice that you feel calmer about things. Find the type of meditation that works for you and relax.
Join a support group if you need some guidance. You can learn a lot from people in the same boat. Reaching out to others is an excellent way to share and also get what you need emotionally.
2. Recognize that Failure Is a Normal Part of Life
We all fail in life, right from the beginning. Even the best of us fail at some things. Accepting failure as a regular part of learning is critical if you ever expect to achieve your goals. The pain of failure is necessary and inevitable.
Once you accept that fact, it becomes much easier to “grin and bear it.” Failure is a natural stepping stone that leads to success. The most successful people you know have also had their share of failures and setbacks.
The only real failure in life is to quit and stop trying. That’s when you lose hope and stop living. Life is an adventure as long as you keep the experience alive and don’t give up.
3. Examine Unhealthy Habits and Make Necessary Changes
You know that little voice in your head that tells you not to do something. You should listen to it. That voice is trying to take care of you.
Whether you’re drinking too much or eating like a pig, stop it today. It is almost impossible to think clearly when your body is sluggish or hungover. Treat your body with love so that you can make the right decisions.
I’m not talking about adopting a monk’s lifestyle and abstaining from life pleasures in moderation. Have a glass of wine and eat dessert on occasion. Just don’t try to hide in that bottle or mountain of ice cream.
When you are at a crossroads in life, you will need all of your energy to move forward. You don’t want to complicate your life with bad habits that are making you feel worse. Take control of your life and stop making your struggles even harder.
4. Decide What You Don’t Want
While we don’t always know what our next step should be, we usually know what it shouldn’t be. Start where you can as you figure out what to do. Knowing what you don’t want is a giant first step.
Sometimes it is easier to decide what you don’t want. Writing down a list of unacceptable options might be what you need to steer you in the right direction. Keep this list close by as you try to decide what opportunities to pursue.
Be brutally honest with yourself as you make your list. Don’t go so far as to be unrealistic though. For example, if you don’t like having a boss, but you’re broke; you can’t start a business yet.
In a situation like this, it pays to be creative. You have to think outside the box. An acceptable compromise might mean working outside of the office with little supervision.
5. Have an Honest Talk with Yourself about Acceptable Options
Tune in to your thoughts, to discover your innermost desires. There are clues about what you want. Instinctively, you know what you want and need.
Do you have a hobby or talent that gives you much pleasure? What kind of compliments do you get and for what? Examine all the clues you get that tell you who you are.
Putting your desires into words can be the hardest part. If you dread going home to your spouse after work, then that’s a clue. You need to think about where that dread is coming from and what you can do to improve the situation.
Do you need to make a change? Are you bored with the relationship? Do you feel loved or taken for granted?
Answering these types of questions will provide you with answers about your relationship. Most relationships hit some bumps along the way. Be careful not to be impulsive and ditch the relationship when you need to make a few adjustments.
You don’t want to be that person who wakes up one day with regrets. Giving up on a loved one too quickly instead of learning to communicate better is always a mistake. Some people repeat the same patterns over and over again instead of working the problem out.
6. Identify Conflicting Goals that Are Setting You Up for Failure
A common problem that crops up when you decide to make life changes is to set conflicting goals. It is similar to biting off more than you can chew. If you choose to spend more time with your kids and also commit to working more hours, it can’t work.
That’s why it can be challenging to tackle too many significant life changes at once. Substantial changes like starting a new business aren’t compatible with focusing on a new romantic relationship. Take one step at a time to increase your odds of success.
7. Identify Life Patterns that Are Causing Problems
We all have life patterns that hold some answers for us about what is working and what isn’t. I finally recognized a destructive pattern in my life and changed it. I didn’t particularly appreciate working in an office with a boss leaning over my shoulder.
It took me years to identify this pattern of failure that always led to me quitting. Since realizing this important fact, I have learned to adjust when looking for career opportunities. Now that I’m self-aware, I no longer put myself in that position.
Life patterns in relationships can also provide clues about the best ways to move forward. If you are always falling in love with a person you need to rescue or change, that is a clue. While not all patterns are bad, if things aren’t working out then check for patterns.
8. Keep the Faith that You Will Find What You Want
Giving up on your dreams is not an option. You deserve to have what you want in life. A satisfying career and a wonderful relationship are within reach.
It may take some time, or you might waltz into the perfect fit once you know what you want. Depending on the urgency of the situation, you should take the discovery time you need. Whatever you do, be sure to get closer to your ideal career or relationship.
9. Honor Your Values in All Decisions
Situations that run counter to your value system can arise in both business and at home. When this happens, you can quickly feel like you’re in crisis mode. I’ve run into this problem on multiple occasions.
We are complicated creatures with moral codes that define us to a large extent. Under no circumstances should you feel forced to compromise your morals for a company or a relationship. That’s why it is helpful to approach new situations keeping this fact in mind.
Too many business enterprises will do anything to get ahead. I have witnessed much deception in sales with companies that overpromise and underdeliver. This is unacceptable to me, so I have come up with some questions to ask upfront.
Nothing is foolproof in terms of knowing for sure what you are getting into with a new job. However, if you go into an interview with good questions, you can often get the information you need. Remember that you are interviewing them too.
Your values must line up in personal relationships too if you want a future together. The health of your friendships, romantic liaisons, and working partnerships depend on having similar value systems. Clues about a person’s morality are usually there if you look for them.
Past behavior can be the best predictor of future behavior. If your new friend is always criticizing others, then there’s a clue. You’re probably next, once they get to know you better and let their guard down.
10. Sleep On It Before Making a Hasty Decision
When you are in pain, it is far too easy to grab any life raft that floats by. Unfortunately, a hasty decision can put you right back where you are soon. Even if you don’t have weeks to think it over, try sleeping on it.
Have you ever noticed how often you wake up with good ideas and answers to problems? There’s a reason for that. When we go to bed with things on our mind, our subconscious goes to work on them while we sleep.
You can’t always count on this happening, but it’s worth a shot. If nothing else, some extra sleep will give you a fresh outlook on the decision. By taking some extra time to think about something, it is less likely you will act impulsively.
11. Talk It Over with a Good Friend or Caring Family Member
There is no substitute for getting a second opinion about an important decision. Good friends can provide a fresh perspective and offer an objective view. Since we all have biases and can be blinded by them, we all need outside input.
It is essential that you be open to what they have to say without being defensive. What makes their input so valuable is that it is honest. That’s why you have to ask them to be brutally honest with you.
Talking about your decision over with one or two trusted friends is always a good idea. Don’t make the mistake of getting too many opinions. That much input can serve to confuse you even more.
12. Take Action and Avoid “Analysis Paralysis”
Some people tend to put off deciding because they are afraid of making the wrong decision. While this is understandable, it can cause a big problem. Remember that choices don’t have to be permanent, and that will take some of the pressure off.
It is common to get cold feet when the decision seems so important. By taking a tiny step forward, you can gather more information. If you’re not sure about a job, you should still go on the interview.
The same advice applies to personal relationships. If you aren’t sure about that potential romantic relationship, go ahead and go on a date. You don’t have to have all the answers for a decision upfront.
13. Ask Yourself How You Can Contribute to the World
Most people have wondered about what the purpose of life. If you have blood flowing through your veins, you have more than likely asked yourself, why am I here? During times of change, you tend to consider the big life questions.
I believe everybody has something important to give to the world. The good news is that many of your natural gifts can be monetized. If you were a math whiz in school, maybe you should try teaching.
If you’re good with your hands and problem-solving, the world is waiting for your invention. We all have gifts that we ignore all too often. Look inside and think about ways you can serve, and you might realize your next career move.
14. Get Honest with Yourself about What You Want from Life
Until you are honest with yourself about what you really want, you are destined to be lost. It is common for people to drift through life trying to please others. This practice rarely makes you happy.
I’m not suggesting you should disregard others in a selfish quest that will repel the essential people in your life. However, it is your life to live. You have to live it based on what you need and want in life.
In your quest for a new career or relationship, there is no shortage of helpful guides.
Some online courses and tests can help you get to know yourself better. Living in the age of information has its benefits.
15. Enjoy the Process
Once you realize that change is what life is all about, you can enjoy it. When I look back at major transformational periods in my life, I remember the excitement I felt. The trick is to get past the fear so you can enjoy these growth periods.
Keep the “big picture” foremost in your mind. You are seeking to improve your life. As painful as it can be, it leads to a happier and more fulfilling life.
When fear starts to get a grip on your good mood, remember other times where you rallied. You can draw on past successes. You are always stronger than you think.
Change is a significant part of the human condition. There is no denying that fact. Learning to embrace that truth is liberating.
The more you live life to the fullest, the easier it gets. Take inventory of your past successes, and you will feel more confident. When it is time to make a significant change, that doesn’t mean you failed.
Change is a sign of growth, not failure. Life is a series of decisions that lead to a better life and more fulfillment. Rest assured, you will always figure it out and move forward.