What To Do When You Don’t Know What You Want
I love to have things under control. That comes as no surprise to the people who know me. I was the kid who would corral the rest of the kids and create an imaginary marching band; with me as the director, of course. School projects? I had those taken care of. I had this knack of knowing which team member would be best fit for the different roles and divvy up the work.
Even once I started working in the corporate environment, I was volunteered for a leadership position in an employee resource group before I had even joined the group!
I always kind of knew what needed to be done. I always knew what I wanted to do.
So, what happens when you don’t know what you want?
Here’s the <very quick> backstory. I started my blog thinking I would write about the books that I had been reading. I imagined I would then start a SilReview service, kind of like Cliff Notes but for business and personal development books.
That then transitioned into being a success and motivational coach for budding entrepreneurs. That shifted into being a career advancement coach for professional women. And then that transformed into being a leadership trainer.
Which then left me wondering — what the heck do I want to do?
I was good at all of those roles. I was also a FANTASTIC financial analyst. I was an inspiring leader in my community. I was so many things for so many people. And there were so many things that other people wanted me to do.
But the one thing I didn’t know was what did I want to do?
How many of you have been in those shoes? Where people expect and demand things of you — things you could provide — but you don’t know if you want to play that role anymore. Scarier yet — you don’t know what role you want to play.
How do you go about figuring it all out? Here are the 3 steps that have helped me along my journey.
#1 Keep Doing What You’re Doing
Whatever you do, do NOT cave into analysis paralysis. Look, it is so tempting to cocoon yourself and hide away from the world. There’s that song by Avicii that goes “Wake me up when it’s all over. When I’m wiser and I’m older”.
WRONG. Don’t let life just pass you by. Don’t hide away from it just because it is messy and confusing. That’s life.
So step one is to continue doing whatever it is you’re doing. Do you have a job you’re currently working in? Keep working it. Take care of your basic needs. Make sure your financial needs are being taken care of. Fulfill your promises to those around you. Do what you gave your word that you would do.
There is no need to change everything just yet. You don’t know what you’re going to change it to.
It’s kind of like realizing you want to renovate your house. If you’re not sure of what upgrades you’re going to make, you shouldn’t start demolishing anything. Keep taking care of the house, paying the bills, cleaning the rooms, etc…
#2 Carve Out Time To Ponder
This is the part where you start on the road to figuring things out. If you’re like most people, you probably are so busy, you don’t have time to think. It’s the constant rat race of waking up in the morning (brownie points if you wake up early and go to the gym), rushing to get dressed/eat, if you have kids make sure they are up and going, then rushing to work, and then rushing home (hello rush hour traffic), and being absolutely exhausted at home.
Your brain is being overworked. How can you problem solve when it’s running on empty? Your brain is like the super computer of computers. All electronics need to have their down time. They need to be restarted. If you have too many apps running in the background, your entire phone/laptop will slow down.
So carve out some time to Be Still. Start scheduling time in your day where you can give your brain a rest. Start small. Perhaps 2–5 minutes at a time. I have found it very helpful to be in nature — walking, staring at a lake, listening to the crashing of the waves — you name it.
Once you have reset your supercomputer, then tackle the question. Ask yourself, “what do I want to do?” Ask God for guidance.
When I reached a major turning point last year, I started doing this on a daily basis. I was inspired to share this process with others in the Be Still Journey. It’s a free 31 day journey that will help you problem solve, become a more creative thinker, and find a deeper trust and peace.
#3 Start Taking Small Actions
As you do steps 1 & 2, you’ll start getting ideas of things that you should be doing. Or certain opportunities will come your way. They might not be THE answer, or THE thing that you will eventually do. They are a path towards that answer.
So start by taking action! Are you looking to change careers? Perhaps a free networking or speaking opportunity will come up. Take action! Go to the event. Speak on that topic.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve spoken on mindset, interviews, networking, live streaming, social media marketing, office politics, emotional intelligence, creative problem solving, and various other leadership topics. I coached women, men, entrepreneurs, employees, and even athletes! I was all over the board!
I took consistent action. I kept trying new things. I played with the opportunities that came my way.
You see, you can sit around and ask for guidance all you want. Clarity won’t come from sitting still. It will come through doing.
As you take action, it will bring you better clarity. You’ll get a sense of what type of activities you do want to be involved in. Perhaps one of the activities that you do will lead you to a person, who will then lead you to where you ultimately want to go.
You never know. So start taking action.
Oh, and don’t demand too much of yourself. I’m not saying don’t set goals. I’m saying don’t punish yourself for not meeting each and every one of your goals.
Life doesn’t always happen on our own timetable. I’ve learned it happens in God’s timing. And, looking back, I can see that His timing is best.
So take time out to be still. Start taking small actions. And be patient with yourself.
It will all work out in the end.