Should I stay or leave this relationship? Should I continue working here or go after the enticing job I was just offered? Should I pursue a corporate career or become an entrepreneur?
Life decisions, whether short-term or long-term, big or small, can leave you stuck in “I don’t know what to do.”
But you can unstuck yourself with the following answers and tips.
Let’s dive in!
1. Find Your Mission
If you’re one of the people saying “I do not know what to do with my life,” this answer is for you.
Many people want to connect with their purpose. To do something they feel is meaningful in their lives. And that’s wise because you don’t want to spend the rest of your life on a job you hate only to have regrets on your deathbed. After all, work is a huge part of your life you’d want to do right.
The problem is that you might easily get confused about what to do when you think of it in terms of seeking your “purpose.” Especially if you think your purpose is supposed to involve all the different things you’re excited about right now which may be a lot of stuff. This sends you into a dilemma over the many roads to take.
But there’s a simpler way of working this out: A mission.
Instead of remaining stuck behind many options, you need to choose your mission in life. And the following video from the school of Life explains how you can do it:
2. Figure Out the Ends Before the Means
It’s easy to obsess over the details around how you’re going to do something that you forget what matters is getting the end goal done.
So if you’re stuck not knowing what to do about your situation, ask yourself, “What is my end goal here?” “What am I trying to achieve?”
For example, if you’re struggling in a relationship, the end goal isn’t staying or leaving, it’s about what you want to get from a romantic relationship. This means you should be focusing on relationship goals like:
- Relating with each other in honesty and open-mindedness
- Mutual respect
- Calm and constructive communication even when fighting
- A mutual desire to fight relationship challenges and not each other
Then you’d ask yourself, “Which of your goals are being met in the relationship?” “Are the met goals worth staying put to work towards more goals being met?”
If the answer is yes, “What is the way to ensure the remaining goals are met?” If the answer is no then it’s time to leave and after some healing, create the relationship you want with someone else.
It’s simple as that. You focus on the things you want out of a situation and you get a solution of “how you get there.”
So focus on the ends, not the means.
3. Work Around Your Values
Even when you don’t know what to do, reminding yourself of the values you subscribe to helps you do the right thing according to your beliefs which leaves you with fewer regrets and more fulfillment.
Values act like your boundaries. They keep you on the straight path even when the path itself becomes foggy.
If considering staying or leaving a relationship, you can choose to stay if you believe commitment to someone is more important – even if that means your needs would be met after a long compromise.
In case you don’t know whether to stay put or get the other job, you can stay because you love the company’s vision and culture or you can leave because your family’s financial crisis needs a remedy that the new job can offer.
You can apply this answer to your situation by putting your values at the forefront. That they become a light to shine on your path.
4. Take Action in Some Direction
“As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.” – Rumi
I know how tempting it is to wait to come up with a “perfect idea”. I know you may want to reach a point where you have a clear idea of what to do. I know you don’t want to make mistakes you’d regret later.
But this is where it takes a leap of faith to get out of feeling stuck.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want you making a rash move. But if you want to open up your mind to new solutions, you just need to make a baby step in any direction available.
Go for that interview and see how you like your potential new job, take a break from your relationship and see how it looks from a less involved perspective, try applying one of your skills to something and see how your purpose unravels.
A little action, a little step is all you need to live a fulfilling life.
5. Get Another Perspective
You only have a limited perspective of the world. Therefore, even in matters of how you live life, you’ll have blind spots that can leave you not knowing what to do.
But if you talk it out with someone else, your mind not only gets a clearer perspective but also, the person you talk to might give you insights that unstuck you faster than you thought possible.
Don’t overthink who is the right person for sharing. See who you have on this list and talk to them as soon as possible:
- A family member
- Your romantic partner
- Online chat group
Explore people’s answers carefully and make a move.
6. Know It’s Okay to Not Know the Future
Uncertainty sucks. In these moments you’d wish you wish you knew the future so that you could take the right direction. You wish you could simply figure out where you’re going and precisely what could take you there – with absolutely no mistakes if possible.
But all that is a pipe dream. While many people claim they know where they’re going and they’ve set goals to get there, mostly it’s just a rough picture and for the most part, no one really knows what they’re doing.
Read most autobiographies of successful people and you’d realize it.
Most just worked around their values, worked hard in the process, and while they were busy living life the best way they knew how, a grand opportunity knocked.
So don’t worry, not knowing what to do at the moment is okay. Not knowing what the future holds is totally normal. Be at ease and work hard with what you have and see where life takes you.
7. Ask Yourself These Questions
When you’re feeling like you don’t know what to do, that’s the perfect time to ask yourself questions. But they have to be the right questions.
- To be honest with myself completely, what really makes me stuck?
- Without thinking much, what would I change about my life right now?
- How much time do I spend working on the things I love?
- What’s really stopping me from going after what I want?
- If I took a leap of faith on this thing, what’s the worst that could happen? Isn’t it worth getting unstuck?
- What are the things I’ve kept saying I want to do but don’t actually do?
- If my ego, money, and status weren’t a factor, what would I do with my life?
- What would I do if I knew I wouldn’t fail?
- Do I feel stuck because I’m settling?
- What am I holding onto that I urgently need to let go of?
- Who has a personal life/career/relationship/skills that I admire? Why?
- What things are most important to me?
Whether you’re having an existential crisis, are feeling stuck in search of your life purpose, or are feeling conflicted between two options, these questions can help you discover the right direction to follow.
8. Jump at the First Opportunity You Get
When feeling stuck, you might be tempted to just spend time waiting on the perfect opportunity. However, this leads to more feelings of helplessness and even a rash decision once you get too impatient.
That’s why you need to dare yourself to jump on the next opportunity life throws at you. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
- At best, this could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting your whole life for (even though it may not seem so at first)
- At worst, this chance could teach you lessons you need to seize the next opportunity with more clarity and calculation
So what’s stopping you?
Many successful people got there after seizing an opportunity they didn’t know would take them to such heights. They got into industries they didn’t study for and provided exceptional value. And that value made them known to the right people.
If you’re feeling like you don’t know what to do, it’s smart to do what life presents you now so you can get out of helplessness to action. And then back on track with your goals.
9. Work on What You’ve Been Putting Off
Do you have a project/decision you’ve been procrastinating? Then that’s what you need to do now that you don’t know what to do.
Commonly, when we put off doing something for so long, life gives us opportunities to get it done because it’s necessary to make us successful and happy. Let me explain further:
- You might start reading a book you’ve been putting off because you got suspended only to realize the lessons you need to move forward are in the book
- You may lose your full time job only to discover your purpose after volunteering at the children’s center you’ve meant to volunteer in for so long
- You might lose track of your goals after a long burnout which pushes you to go for the retreat you’ve been procrastinating. While taking time off the normal routine, you gain more clarity and strength to follow through with tough but necessary decisions in your life.
You get the point.
Sometimes the supposed challenge of not knowing what to do is a gift for remembering what you needed to do.
10. Find Your Gut Feeling
Your gut feeling comes in handy mostly when you don’t know what to do.
However, your intuition isn’t perfect. Therefore, before following your gut feeling, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you ready to listen to your gut or are you being hasty to avoid thinking things through?
- Is there a way you can find the information you need to further confirm your gut feeling?
- Can you differentiate an impulsive decision (Like quitting your job after a bad day at work) and a gut feeling decision (Like quitting your job since you’ve been in quiet desperation over it for a long while plus you’ve got reasons why it’s not a good fit for you)?
It may sound silly when people throw around this phrase but you can indeed trust your gut. Just smartly so.
11. Sleep on It
To avoid making impulsive decisions especially in difficult situations, you can go through the above strategies and then sleep on it.
Sleeping on it according to Live Science helps clear our conscious biases and invites a more goal-directed unconscious thinking. It also helps our bodies and minds recharge on a good night’s sleep or even a nap. The thinking gets clearer and more calculated.
So whatever you do, if you can make a decision after some sleep, definitely sleep on it.
12. You’re Not Alone So Relax and Deal Patiently
It’s inherently human to think you’re alone in this. That no one in the world has ever made the dumb mistakes you’ve made and that you alone don’t know what to do.
But this thinking only increases stress and affects your decisions and well-being negatively some more.
But you need to recognize it for what it is. You’re merely having a side effect of any human suffering: negative thoughts.
The liberating reality is, the majority of people in the world, no matter how smart they are, often feel they don’t know what to do with many aspects of their lives.
- While not everyone will struggle with finding their life purpose, they might find having healthy relationships too much hard work.
- While not everyone struggles with indecisiveness in taking a new job, they might not be blessed with a variety of career options as you
In a nutshell, struggles differ but from time to time, everyone feels like they don’t know what to do.
You can prove this by asking even someone you really admire, “Have you ever felt like you don’t know what to do?”
You’ll get sobering answers to help you understand that you’re not alone. And if the rest of the people, even the ones you really admire made it beyond “I do not know what to do,” then you too can.
13. Stay Comfortably Uncomfortable
Last but not least, you have to understand that to grow in a life of fulfillment, you have to experience discomfort, and therefore, must learn to be okay with it.
After all, “Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth.” – Bryant McGill
So when you’re feeling uncomfortable not knowing what to do, remember, this is the right opportunity for growth that’ll lead you to achieve success and happiness.
You can also read on Ways Out Of ‘I Don’t Know How I Feel’.
More Answers to I Don’t Know What to Do
Want to know more about what to to do when you don’t know what to do? Stick with me a little longer!
What to do if you don’t know what you love? I don’t know what to do as a career
If you don’t know what you love, these steps can help you discover your passions and lead you to your dream job:
- Remove money and status out of the equation
- Get to know who you admire professionally and why
- Outline what you’re naturally good at that gives you joy
- Get in touch with what you loved as a child
- Get feedback from your family and friends
- Start experimenting to know what you enjoy in reality
- Drop pretense and unapologetically do you
I don’t know what to do with my life – I do not know what to do with my life and I’m scared
Firstly, you need to understand that it’s impractical to know what your whole future holds so stressing yourself to understand everything you want to do with your life is unnecessary. However, you can find your mission around the values you stand for, find a problem or two you’d like to solve in the world, and seek the way you want to solve it. You can learn more in strategy #1 above.
I dont know what to do with myself
Especially if you’ve shifted from a relationship/job/ environment and are transitioning to a new life of your own, you’d feel at loss on what to do with yourself. However, you can create an amazing life by reconnecting with your hobbies, creating new relationships, working on unfinished projects, and jumping on new opportunities to create a flow.
What to do if I don’t know what to do? I don’t know what to do right now
Here’s a recap of what to do if you don’t know what to do:
- Find Your Mission
- Figure Out the Ends Before the Means
- Work around Your Values
- Take Action in Some Direction
- Get Another Perspective
- Know It’s Okay to Not Know the Future
- Ask Yourself These Questions
- Jump at the First Opportunity You Get
- Work on What You’ve Been Putting Off
- Find Your Gut Feeling
- Sleep on It
- You’re Not Alone So Relax and Deal Patiently
- Stay Comfortably Uncomfortable
What Are You Going to Do? Final Thoughts
Finding your mission in life is the best bet for knowing what to do with your life. And remember, the ends of anything are what matters more than the means.
Above all things, taking action is what gets you closer to your dreams.
So now that you’ve learned answers to “I do not know what to do,” what’s your next step? Let’s talk in the comments! And don’t forget to share this with your friends to change lives!