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What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do

Part 3 of 10

Two bunches of colorful balloons floating in the sky.

Welcome back.  If you made it this far, you have recognized that you are stuck, taken time to reflect, did some deep breathing and now you are ready for the next step.  At least, I hope you are ready.  This one will be hard.  Be ready to let go.  I know that every one of those shiny ideas are precious to you.  How do I know?  Because I too treasured all of my ideas.  Each one a newborn child needing sustenance and love.  There is not enough milk.  How do you decide?  Thankfully, we are not dealing with children, but with ideas and mindset.  If we have the mindset of either/or, there is always going to be a sense of loss.  When we have brainstorming sessions in my day job, there always are ideas that are not in scope, but important.  We put them in a parking lot to revisit later.  The idea is part of the bigger picture but at that point works better in the background rather than the forefront.  My friend Yinka Ewuola pointed out that the Latin root of priority means the first.  She does not believe in priorities since, it is a singularity.  Contrary to popular belief, we can only do one thing at a time well.

It seems counter intuitive, but the harder I try, the longer it takes.  Ever try to wash a pot with stuck on food?  How long does it take?  Compare that to letting the pot soak for a bit.  Sometimes, you need to let your challenges soak for a bit before you try and scrub them out.  Your surroundings are a hint to the state of your mind.  I am going to disavow my surroundings, but I may have a cluttered mind at the moment.  Is what you are doing something you want to do or are you scouring a pot with stuck on food working harder than necessary and getting nowhere?  When you have clarity, it is easier to align your thoughts and actions.  As you get centered and grounded perhaps you will find it easier to reflect on the things that you do not want to do.  What things do you have to let go or put in the parking lot?

I often feel that Life is driving, and I am just a passenger.  When you do not know your destination, it is easier to let someone else take the wheel.  It is also possible that you are driving and do not have a destination in mind but there are no rest stops, so you keep going, wasting gas.  The story we tell ourselves is important because it can change the journey.  Ever been stuck in traffic?  How do you respond?  Do you curse and complain about how late you are going to be?  Or perhaps you give thanks that you will get to catch up on podcasts?  Do you remember the routine trips?  I can still tell you about the time our van broke down on a family trip.  We were stuck on the side of the road for hours and I remember holding my bladder until I got home because I did not want to go by the side of the road.  I also remember the road trip where we were crossing a bridge and I thought we would be flooded out.  In both tales, my takeaway was my resilience.  Obstacles do not have to derail the journey.  The story I tell myself is that obstacles are opportunities for creativity and growth.  What story do you tell yourself about your obstacles?

I think that part of the reason we are afraid to achieve clarity is because it makes us responsible for our decisions.  What if the outcome is not what I wanted?  You can blame and shame yourself or you can learn and grow.  Are you enjoying living life on other people’s terms?  Energy is neither created nor destroyed but how it is spent is important.  Is your energy working for you?  It is also a matter of perspective.  Carpooling saves energy because it can reduce the number of vehicles on the road.  However, a fully load car also uses more fuel.  Where do you want to spend the energy?  Your brain, trying to process all those ideas from your Shiny Object Syndrome is not going to be as effective as a brain focused on your real priority.  I’ll take a page from Marie Kondo.  Look at the ideas that do not spark joy, thank them, and let them go.  It is okay to mourn the loss.  Letting go is hard but it also creates space for something new.  Namaste.

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