What to do when you don’t know what to do

Do you ever get that “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t know where to start” feeling?

It can feel overwhelming can’t it?

It often shows up when you are looking to make change or do something new.

This feeling in itself isn’t a problem. It is how you respond to that feeling that is important.

If you are heading in a new direction you haven’t been in before, it is perfectly normal to get that “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t know where to start” feeling.

It is a normal part of getting on the path to making change.

But the problem with it is this:

When people feel they don’t know what to do, they often do nothing. As a result they stay stuck where they don’t want to be.

If this sounds familiar here is

What to do when you don’t know what to do.

First of all, don’t beat yourself up about it or allow frustration to take over. It serves no useful purpose. It is natural to not know what to do when you start something new. Be kind to yourself.

Secondly, be honest with yourself about if you are using that feeling as an excuse to do nothing. If you are, make a commitment to stop making excuses. They keep you stuck and let you off the hook of taking action.

Thirdly, for the love of God do something!!!

Seriously, just do something. It doesn’t even matter if the first thing you do isn’t right. You are just taking the first step to finding out what to do.

Once you have decided on what you want the outcome to be, come back to where you are and just focus on the first step to move you forward.

  • Maybe the first step is just doing some research on the thing you want to achieve.
  • Maybe it’s hiring someone knowledgeable in that area to help you
  • Maybe it’s doing a brainstorm or a mini plan.

Remember:

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Sorry to those of you who were expecting some sophisticated masterplan as the solution to what to do when you don’t know what to do. But it really is as simple as just do something. Take a baby step. And each step you take will lead to the next one.

Let go of needing to know “how” before you start. The “how” will be revealed along the way as you learn stuff and take action.

So, what baby step will you take today about the thing you don’t know how to do?


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  • http://mindfulproductivity.net/shop/ Be

    …your step three is so true.  Half the time I dont even know what I am doing, but so long as I keep moving and am open to all possibilities I figure the rest of it will fall into place and it usually does! :)

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Yes, creating momentum and keeping it going are key. Thanks for dropping by.

  • http://www.mumsgotabusiness.com Heather

    So true, the important thing is to just keep moving.  Tiny, baby, micro steps are better than standing still.  Great post Ali – needed saying.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Heather,
    Glad you liked the post. I am a big fan of taking baby steps to keep momentum going. Helps keep overwhelm at bay too.

  • Martha

    Hi Ali – I read your post with interest, as so many of my coaching clients are in that place of ‘I don’t know what to do, so I’m not doing anything’.  I also think there is a fear of doing the wrong thing.  We could learn to forgive ourselves for making a mistake!

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Hi Martha
    You are so right. There are so many factors that contribute to people staying stuck. As you mention, fear is a biggy. Also things like lack of confidence, perfectionism, overwhelm and so on. I think the key is to be committed to getting to the source in order to find a lasting solution.
    Thanks for dropping by. Hope you and the family all keeping well.

  • http://www.theemotionmachine.com Steven

    Ali, this is spot on. Our ability to grow and develop as individuals relies on our capacity to take action in the face of uncertainty. Confusion is the first step toward understanding, so it’s perfectly alright to not know exactly what to do all the time.

    Wise words indeed. Thanks for this.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Thanks Steven. Glad you liked it. I think the challenge is to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable becauuse all change happens outside the comfort zone. Thanks for dropping by.

  • http://www.crackingconfidence.co.uk The Cracking Confidence Coach

    Hi Ali, I’m surprised not to have discovered your blog sooner! I’ve missed much…

    I love this simple advice… it can be really hard to understand this, especially if you are someone who must have a near perfect plan before you begin!

    I always think of the fact that it’s easier to turn something that’s moving, even if it’s all the way around, than it is to get it moving in the first place.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Hi Dan, welcome to the site. Yes, the striving for perfection can be a real killer. Makes me think of this quote: “Strive for progress, not perfection” – author unknown. Thanks for dropping by.

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Hi Dan, welcome to the site. Yes, the striving for perfection can be a real killer. Makes me think of this quote: “Strive for progress, not perfection” – author unknown. Thanks for dropping by.

  • http://www.devacoaching.com Sandi Amorim

    “for the love of God do something!!!”
    Love it Ali! 

  • Ali Davies

    Glad you liked it Sandi. Sometimes doing anything is better than nothing to break the cycle and get momentum going again.

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  • Bogar Ardiansyah

    Hello ma’am. I’m not into business or the likes. At least for now. But
    in my everyday life there is a point when I really know where the stair
    is. But somehow it is not so familiar to me. Yet it is what I’ve been
    doing all the time. I know how it’s done. the concept and everything
    about it. And then I’m stuck.

    I’ve been able to overcome that problem with a bit of
    courage to take another stair. Another possibility. I think it is not
    just for being your self. But also for being able to chose your own way.
    even if it is not your style.
    Have a good day.

  • Joyce

    I’m asking for advice .. Please…I’m 57 and 2 yrs ago I changed my life. I retired from stressful job, sold my home, bought a rv and have been traveling since..but 4 months ago I came home at request of my son …to visit…but now I feel stuck…I feel unproductive…I feel like I should be doing something …I am single and I think I didn’t enjoy the traveling by myself … I’m just not sure if I should continue to travel or settle down by son and get part time job to fill my hours….I feel stuck….please I really need suggestions….I do not have to work I can live off my pension but I feel so at a loss on how to spend my days now,

  • Yvonne Wood

    Have you looked into a business opportunity helping families eliminate debt and retire financially secure like yourself?

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Hi Yvonne, that isn’t an area I specialise in.