Ever have those times when you’re noodling something non-stop? Maybe you’re trying to figure out your life purpose or choose the best model for your business. You’re trying to decide whether to stick with your day job or go back to school. You’re trying to uncover the limiting beliefs that get in your way or parse out the big themes in your dreams.
Whatever it is, it matters. A lot. And so you’re giving it all you’ve got.
You’re like a dog with a bone, trying to figure it out this way, that way, grrrr, grrrr! You’ve made lists. You’ve asked friends. You’ve hired consultants. You’ve bought books – and read them, complete with highlighter in hand. You’ve journaled your heart out. You’ve cried your heart out. And still, nothing.
You’re exhausted with the effort but still, you’re committed. If you could come up with one more exercise, one more perspective, one more conversation, you’re sure the clouds would part and there, finally, would be the answer.
In the meantime, sometimes you just want to shake your fist at the Universe for not giving you a direct message. You’re showing up – every day you’re showing up. Why hasn’t the answer come through?
I’ve done this a million times. Probably a million and seven. Here’s what I’ve learned.
What To Do When (Despite Your Best Efforts) You Don’t Know What To Do
Stop asking your brain to figure it out. Let another part of you have a shot.
No wonder you’re exhausted. Your brain is on a treadmill working overtime when it’s actually someone else’s job to tackle this one. If your brain could solve this problem, it would have. Stop noodling and give another part of you a chance – your gut, your heart, your body, your intuition. You have plenty of other resources to draw on. Let your poor brain have a rest.
2. Take Action
Do something. Anything. Take the smallest step you think might make a difference and do it. Or take the bravest step or the easiest step or the one step you can take right now. Just take a step. Reminding yourself that you are capable of moving forward breathes fresh life into the situation and the feedback you get from taking action will give your brain more information to noodle!
3. Move Your Body.
All that percolation creates excess steam that can keep things pressurized and stuck. Move your body to release that pent-up energy and encourage flow. It’s amazing just how often we go for a walk or to a yoga class and seemingly out of nowhere the answer or the next step arrives. Our bodies are wise.
4. Change Your Environment.
Get outside. Take yourself to lunch. Sit under a tree. Walk a different road. Go to a coffee shop. Shift something external to shift something internal.
Thinking all the time is a bit like talking all the time. Perhaps the reason the Universe hasn’t offered up any insights is it’s waiting for us to pause long enough for it to get a word in edgewise. Indulge in quiet. Meditate. Sit with your journal and let the Universe guide your hand. Turn your dial from “transmit” to “receive.”
Almost all the times when I’ve struggled the most with over-thinking I’ve been trying to find a solution whose time simply hadn’t come. As frustrating as it is we can’t bulldoze our way through the big questions. Sometimes we have to grow a little more or a situation needs to develop or another player has to step into the game before the doors open to the next level.
Accept the simple and obvious truth: you don’t know what to do. Stop fighting it. Not knowing doesn’t mean this is the end. It might mean you wing it. It might mean you wait. It might mean you let someone else decide. It might mean you flip a coin. It might mean you “Let go and let God.” You’re allowed to not know. In fact, sometimes you’re not meant to. Yes, it would be so much simpler if we always knew the right step, knew exactly where we were going and how we were going to get there. It would be so much simpler but it would also be far less of an adventure.