Six things to do when you don’t know what to do.

Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash

Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:  You’re not happy in your current job but aren’t sure what else you’re qualified to do.  You’re not making enough money but you can’t afford to quit.  You want to do something meaningful but you haven’t found your “passion”.

Go back to school?  Start your own business??  Join the circus??? 

If you’ve become paralyzed by indecision, the best strategy may be to stop, take a breath, and come at the problem from a different direction.  Here are some ideas to get you moving:

Dive deep into a new subject.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  Pick something that interests you (work-related or not) and start learning everything you can about it.  Explore it from different perspectives and thru different mediums.  Follow footnotes and interesting asides.  See where it takes you.

Get an activity tracker and start walking.  Feeling aimless drains your energy and you may find yourself in a sedentary rut.  An activity tracker (I like the FitBit) will help you focus on getting up and out.  And walking will clear your mental fog and get you thinking big thoughts.

Declutter.  Our physical space and our mental space are deeply entwined.  Clearing our  material baggage has a magic way of clearing our psyche as well.  Purge ruthlessly and then examine what’s left.  It may hold clues to what really matters in your life.  (Marie Kondo’s book on the magic of tidying up explores this in depth.)

Keep a time log.  “I don’t have time.” is probably the biggest excuse we use for not moving forward.  But you probably have more than you think.  Track everything you do for a week and see where your time is really going.  Then evaluate what you can change to make time for something new.

Start a blog.  Pick something that interests you and start writing about it.  It doesn’t have to be ground breaking stuff, but commit to writing something on the regular.  Explore other blogs and start connecting with people online.  Be open to the process and again, see where it takes you.

Volunteer to work with someone from another country.  Volunteering is good experience in general, but working directly with someone from another culture – tutoring a non-native speaker, for example – is an excellent way to put your own life in perspective.


How about you?  Have you ever felt aimless?  How did you deal with it?


(This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.)


7 thoughts on “Six things to do when you don’t know what to do.

  1. Pingback: Best Blogs 16 Jan 2015 | ChristopherinHR

  2. honoria plum

    I quite agree with these ideas, but…. I’d like to see some things to do that will help to get out of the cruddy job? No amount of extra curicular hobbies will make up for spending 40 hours of every week doing something, or being somewhere you hate. It is also draining energy that you need for other areas of life. Also, many of us have time consuming responsibilities outside our work that make it incredibly hard to find personal time. For example, i get up at 5am to make time to write because I’m passionate about doing it. But it means I don’t get enough sleep. It’s also the only time I could make for exercise, so It’s not the best choice for my health. I’m not being negative. The ideas you’ve presented here are fabulous. But reality for many people outside their working lives is tough. Doing a job you love really matters!

    1. Bernadine Post author

      This is a great point and an issue I know many people struggle with, so thanks so much for commenting! I think the first step is to break the paralysis and just start doing something – hence this post. But then, yes, at some point we’ve actually got to find a job that isn’t cruddy, that we enjoy doing and, ideally, gives us energy instead of draining it. That is no easy task! There are lots of ways to approach it but one piece of advice I give is to start by really defining what you like and dislike about your current job – very specifically. Then, hopefully, there are tasks that you can build on incrementally, to make your day more rewarding until you can make the jump to something better. I definitely plan to write more on this topic, so stay tuned. Thanks again for reading and commenting!


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