Sign of adulthood: making my own birthday (cup)cake...and doing all the dishes after. #birthdayadventure #tomorrowstheday

Instructions for when you don't know what to do next.

First, do something really fun. Whatever you deem to be FUN counts.

Then, sit down with your journal and take 3 deep breaths.

Ask yourself: If I really could do anything, what do I want to do?

Start writing.

Ask yourself: What's the bigger picture I'm working towards? (it might be: 8 hours of sleep, paying off debt, leaving the dayjob)

Ask yourself: What could I do today that would get me closer to that big picture?

And that's it.

There's nothing you can read or class you can take that will give you answer clearer than what you'll find out fromanswering those questions calmly (calm is vital! If you're freaking out, your answers will be doomdoomdoom.)

You see, I work with makers who insist that they do not know what to do next. They're not sure of the next step to take in their business or their life, and they write me to ask if working with me is going to help them figure that out.

I used to write back: No, only you can know where you want to go.

That's true, and in my work, I don't tell anyone what they should do. You gotta find that for yourself.

But after a recent solo-session with a Captain, I realize that's not quite right. Noone knows where they're going. What I do is ask the above questions (and many others), and listen. I spot those moments where you're enthusiastic and bold and I reflect them back to you.

And that's how you figure out the next step.

So now I tell those not-sure-what's-next makers, “Yes, together we'll find the next thing. I've got strategies and techniques to make the doing it more effective, but you have the compass. Together we'll use both to create a path.

But the point is, everyone thinks they don't know what do next. Thus, it's totally ok that you don't know where you're going. It's ok to feel like this 10 times a week. When you do, instead of flopping around in confusion or frustration, stop + reorient yourself.

If, right now, you're thinking you really don't know what to do, and your compass is spinning wildly, take a break from the internet. Set aside a half hour, and ask yourself the questions above. Collect yourself, your thoughts and your enthusiasm and reset the compass.

You're allowed to do this as often as you need to. It's not a sign you're lost. It's not a sign you can't do this.

It's a sign of life.



PS. I've been shy about offering my solo-sessions before (although some curious souls manage to find it every month) because, you can orient yourself and make a map on your own. You can ask yourself questions, listen to your inner voice, and spot your own enthusiasm.

But man, that's hard. And you don't have the experience of having worked with hundreds of small businesses. And the fact is, answering my questions and talking to me for an hour is a lot faster and effective than arguing with yourself. So if you'd like to combine my experience + strategies with your own compass, check this out.



3 Comments on When you don’t know what to do.

  1. Tanith
    June 13, 2013 at 6:32 pm (11 years ago)

    I have this quote from Wendell Berry on my classroom wall at the moment, and naturally your post made me think of it:
    “It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
    It makes me think of uncertainty as something exciting and full of potential.

  2. Tara Swiger
    June 14, 2013 at 9:33 am (11 years ago)

    Oh! I love that quote! Thanks so much for sharing it, Tanith!

  3. Tanith
    June 15, 2013 at 5:12 am (11 years ago)

    You’re welcome!