Saturday, March 5, 2016

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

Inertia. It can hit us all. And when it does, we often don't know what to do. Oh, we're willing, often desperately longing, to do something, but we just don't know what. It can get to the point where it's terribly upsetting—your life is stuck and you're wanting to get out of the quicksand, but you just can't seem to move.
"Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might..." —Ecclesiastes 9:10
There you have it. When you're stuck, do what's right in front of your nose. Which isn't to say that's what you want to do or are capable of doing. No, not at all. It's just saying that for now you need to do what's right in front of you and do it as well as you can and that will lead to the next thing.

Some years back I was seeing a psychiatrist and I told him I was lost in my life, especially regarding what do for work. He said, "If you can't make a decision as to what kind of work to do, make a decision to work." In other words, work at something. That I could do.

A friend in a self-help group once gave me his secret for overcoming inertia. He said, "Do the irreducible minimum—and you may find you want to continue." I tried it. It works. I don't know how many times I've used his advice. Say I don't feel like writing. I'll tell myself, 'I'll sit at the computer for ten minutes.' Well, it's usually a couple of hours later and I'm still working away. Or how about doing your taxes? I'd tell myself I'd sit down and look at all the tax forms for no more than fifteen minutes. Again, hours later I'd find myself sealing the envelope to the IRS with my completed return and check in it.

Doing something takes the pressure off. It gives you a sense that although maybe you're not going exactly where you want to, you're at least going somewhere positive. (I remember a bumper sticker I once saw. It was of Cap'n Crunch standing on the bow of a ship, sword extended, and the caption below it read: "I may be lost, but I'm movin'!") So, can't find the spouse of your dreams right now? Okay, maybe not but you can go to the gym and work out to lose those five extra pounds that will make it easier to attract that spouse. Can't land your dream job at the moment? Work on your resume. But it doesn't even have to be situation specific. Mow the lawn. Clean the kitchen. Anything at all. Just do something.

There's a saying: "No honest effort is ever wasted." You'll find if you just do what's right in front of you, you'll feel better about yourself and it will lead you do something else. You'll be on your way.

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