There are many times in life when we just don’t know what to do, whether that’s from having seemingly endless options or none at all. Sometimes taking the next step can be paralyzing. Here’s what to do when you don’t know what to do or you’re thinking “I don’t know what to do with my life.”
What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do
Here is a great quote about this issue from Rainer Maria Rilke:
“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. “
You might think his answer is frustratingly philosophical, but he actually has a good point.
Knowing what questions to ask in the first place is a very good place to start, and from there, sometimes all you have to do is live your life.
You can’t think your way into the answers; you have to take action.
Of course, it would be pretty neat if we could just sit down and think for a few hours about how we want every single detail of our lives to play out, but it doesn’t really work like that. 😃 Instead, we start with an inkling of an idea or a vague interest in something, we try it, we pivot, we shift gears, we try something else, and we keep trying until we discover the things that work for our life.
It helps to know what questions you’re trying to answer. If you don’t know what to do with your life or you’re thinking “I don’t know what to do with myself,” then maybe the question is simply, “What should I do with my life?” or “What career or passion should I pursue?”
What to Do When You Don’t Know How to Make a Decision
If you’re making a decision about a different matter, you might have to actually get out there and experiment and try things before you figure it out.
If you can’t figure out how you feel about something, pay attention to signs from your body. Do you feel dread or anxiety or like your throat is closing up when imagining your future down a certain path? Or do you feel light and fluttery and excited?
What’s the SMALLEST action you can take today to better figure out what to do?
Doing a little internet research is an easy place to start. If you’re deciding on a career path, see what other people have said about your potential jobs and what “insiders” say about it.
Make a list of a few different paths that you could take or different decisions you could make in this particular area. Can you try out any of these options in person with a low level of commitment? Before deciding to dedicate your life to becoming the prima ballerina of the Boston Ballet, try signing up for a dance class and see how you like it. 😃
The point is, you usually have to take action to figure things out in your life. Even if you hypothetically were told at 18 what you are meant to do with the rest of your life, without having the first hand experiences, you wouldn’t really know what to do with that information.
How to See New Possibilities for Your Life
Sometimes when we’re depressed we get stuck in black and white thinking and only see a limited range of options, or none at all, for our particular situation. But looking at happy and positive things makes us see new possibilities!
And sometimes when you’re in the throes of depression, a little spark of hope can mean everything.
One time I was on a call with a potential client for my other business, and at the time I was finishing up my current projects and didn’t have any new clients to work with. So naturally, I was getting a little worried, but after getting off the phone call, I felt like no matter how it turned out, I was much more hopeful and started seeing new possibilities for how I could drum up business again. It gave me hope, and my brain started working out new ideas and exciting possibilities.
It wasn’t even that something monumental happened; it was just a small phone called that shifted my thinking from worry into possibility. Sometimes all it takes to go from panicking about something to feeling inspired again are small things that for a moment, shift our perspective just a little and move our thinking into better territory.
Action step: If you find yourself worrying or stressing out about something, try doing something different. It doesn’t have to be a big action, just get out of your current stuck energy.
Go for a walk, read a book about something completely unrelated to the topic you’re worrying about, clean something (it’s very therapeutic!), or just get out of the house and be around people. Sometimes these little action steps can mean the difference between staying stressed out, anxious, and depressed, and seeing new possibilities for your situation.
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How to Make Life Decisions | How to Make a Big Life Decision
When you’re at a crossroads in life, making a decision can be confusing and completely overwhelming. But usually, your intuition knows more than you think you do. Here’s how to make life decisions.
I believe that you already know what you want to do. You already know what decision you want to make.
The truth is, you probably already know what you want, deep down, but it’s buried so far under layers and layers of expectation, societal pressure, and mountains of living up to other people’s standards that you don’t even know what you want anymore.
The problem isn’t that we can’t make a choice, but that there are so many outside influences putting pressure on our decisions. It’s almost as if making certain decisions in life is defying all of society, even if it’s just making one decision for our own life.
It’s easy to take the path of least resistance, but if you’re making a decision that goes against cultural norms or isn’t what others expect of you, it takes a lot more courage to willingly take that risk and make that decision.
In one extreme, you could live your life exactly along with social norms and never stray from the path, or on the other extreme, you could make a decision to do something different than most people but that you know deep down is what you really want.
When it comes to following your dreams, most of the decisions you make will be counter-cultural if you want to continue down this path.
Try flipping a coin over a decision you’re trying to make. Not to actually see what side it lands on, but to see what your heart is hoping for when the coin is in the air.
“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Dr. Benjamin Spock
If you’d like more help figuring out what to do with your life, check out our Figure Out Your Life class.