Checklist for When You Don’t Know What to Do

8 Steps for Moving Forward
Man on a path that suddenly changed, and he doesn't know what to do.

No matter what path you’re on, totally unexpected things will happen somewhere along the way.

Sometimes, the surprise is minor. It’s not something you expected, but it’s something you’ve seen before. Maybe it happened to a friend or a colleague, and you remember how they handled it. You make some quick adjustments, and you’re back on track.

But sometimes, the unexpected problem is major and completely throws you for a loop. You have no idea how it happened, why it happened, how big the impact will be, or how to move forward. You are totally disoriented and just don’t know what to do. 

Dealing with Emotions

When you’re caught off guard or going through big changes like this, all sorts of emotions tend to flare up. Fear, anxiety, hopelessness, grief, disappointment, and doubt can all come flooding in, and you get so overwhelmed and exhausted that you can’t even think straight.

The longer you allow these emotions to control you, the further off track you’ll drift, and you’ll start to lose some of your hard fought gains. The problem will only compound and make it even more difficult to get back on track. You miss a few days here, cancel a few appointments there—before you know it, your momentum has faded, your focus is gone, and your enthusiasm has waned altogether. 

But don’t panic—if this is happening to you, you can snap out of it! You can get through this; you need to get through this.

Everyone Goes Through Tough Times

You need to realize you are not alone. Everyone goes through tough times and has moments when they don’t know what to do. Everyone.

Some of the most successful people have overcome the biggest challenges to get to where they are today, and they are stronger because of it. 

You have a unique purpose on this earth. The sooner you get back to it, the better. You will be happier and more fulfilled once you do. 

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Here are 8 things winners do to get through tough times. 

1. Call A Time-Out

When you don't know what to do, stop and take a time-out.At the first sign of trouble, call a timeout. Stop everything. Quiet the voices around you so you can think. It’s time to regroup. If you need to, go to a place where you can be alone for a little while. Sometimes even taking a long walk by yourself gives you a chance to reboot. 

Take a few deep breaths, let your emotions fade, and switch to a more logical thought process. Tell yourself, ‘Hold on. Calm down. Getting upset isn’t going to fix anything.’

Now that you’re calm, you will be able to think more clearly and find ways to move forward. 

2. Get Back To Your Roots

Until you get your mind off of what has gone wrong and back on what you want to happen, you will stay stuck. 

Remember, your goals, targets, dreams, and purposes are what make up your long-term focus. What just went wrong is a temporary interruption. Of course you have to deal with it, but don’t let anything eclipse the importance of where you’re headed, and why you’re headed there.

Don’t let anything eclipse the importance of where you’re headed, and why you’re headed there. Click To Tweet

This isn’t to say that whatever has gone wrong isn’t huge, or even tragic, but you get to decide the kind of consequences it will have on your life, not the other way around. 

3. Get The Facts

Look for answers by asking yourself the right questions. 

  • How bad is this, really? 
  • How disruptive is this going to be? 
  • Is this something that will take a lot of time or a little time to fix? 
  • Is this your problem or someone else’s to solve?
  • Will you need help? And, if so, who can you get?

Get all your options on the table. 

Choose the way that allows you to solve the problem without making it worse. The idea is to get it solved as quickly as possible and then get back moving ahead at full speed. 

4. Get Advice

Ask your peers, mentors, and advisors what they think. Go to people you trust—people who share your values and have your best interests at heart. 

When you're stuck and don't know what to do, ask others for help and advice on your situation.Chances are you’ll find someone who can relate to your situation. You may even find out they’ve been through something similar and overcome it. 

They might think of something you haven’t thought of before or show you another way to look at the problem that doesn’t make it seem so overwhelming. 

Remember, we weren’t created to be alone. Don’t let a problem isolate you. Even just sharing what’s going on with someone who can sympathize and comfort you can be just what you need to face the problem head on!

5. Pray For Wisdom

Even if you’re convinced you know how to handle this, and you have everything you need to do so, it’s time to call in the heavy artillery. 

God knows exactly what you’re going through. Pray to Him for wisdom and guidance to help you come out of this a stronger person. 

Sometimes, God allows overwhelming things to happen to us to remind us He is ready, willing, and able to get involved if we will just ask. Sometimes, He will use these unexpected situations to remind us of all we are capable of with Him at our side.

Sometimes, God allows overwhelming things to happen to us to remind us He is ready, willing, and able to get involved if we will just ask. Click To Tweet

6. Play To Your Strengths

It’s important to objectively recognize your strengths and consider how these might help you in your current situation. When looking at your options, think about which ones are best suited to your strengths.

Now is not the time to worry about what you’re not good at and what you don’t have. Now is the time to check out your resources, use all the things at your disposalespecially things you are good at—and use them to your advantage. 

7. Trust Your Gut

Don’t let yourself be bullied. Trust your gut and move forward with confidence. 

You know the situation better than anyone. You’ve taken the time to think about your options and you know what’s going to work the best for you. So have a little faith in yourself. 

Don’t let anyone guilt or coerce you into something you’re not on board with. 

8. Take Action

No matter what, get moving. Sometimes just one step forward will change your perspective on everything. A rabbit frozen in headlights on the highway gets run over. Don’t be that rabbit. 

Even if it’s just a baby step, do something positive to help get you out of this rut. The sooner you start making positive progress, the better you will feel. If you find yourself blocked from moving forward in one area, move forward in another. There’s always somewhere you can take action, some way you can make progress.

Don’t focus on the blockade—focus on the openings. Click To Tweet 

So if you only take one thing away from this list, let it be this: keep moving forward. 

Keep going when you don't know what to do—keep moving forward.Our confidence in ourselves is often undermined by our previous failures. We can feel like we have no chance to succeed, because once upon a time, we didn’t. The thing about failure, though, is that you can define what it means.

You can decide that your failure means you can never succeed, or you can decide your failure was a valuable learning experience that has better equipped you to win this time! Click To Tweet

So get moving! Assess the situation, identify your options, choose one and implement it with everything you’ve got. Commit to your decision and, no matter what, keep moving towards your goal!

Did you try any of these steps—or all of them? How did they work for you? Do you have any advice for someone going through something like this?

Leave us a comment and tell us about it! We’d love to hear from you.

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