What To Do When You’re Not Sure What To Do.

We’ve all been to that moment in life where your mind screams “Say something,” anything, it seems.  “Take an action, make a plan, respond in some fashion or form so that you don’t just start screaming at the top of your lungs and feel like you’re never going to stop.”

Do something.  Do anything.

When you don't know where you're going, what road do you take to get there?

But what?

It’s the point of no return, the final curtain…and you have no idea what is next in your life.   Maybe you’re eighteen, maybe you’re eighty, but it’s still there all the same.  Not sure what to do.

Doctor:  “You have cancer.  The prognosis is dim that we’ll be able to cure it, but manage it?  We can try.”

Patient:   “Damn.”  (Starts laughing hysterically.)

or maybe this……

Her: “M.S. is a hard disease to live with, but it’s not always fatal.  It’s a life change in most cases, a general and slow degradation of your nervous system by destruction of the Mylar on the nerve surface.”

Me:  “Mylar?  Like the stuff they make envelopes out of?  Oh, no, that’s Tyvek.  Untearable paper.”

or even….

Him:  “The recent budget crisis has us tightening the belt, and I am sorry to say that we’re letting you go.”

Her:  Thinks of all three kids at home, no child support and the bills no her dining room table.  She has no response other than absolute shock.  She’s done a great job as the newest member of the staff.  It didn’t matter.

Wanting to do anything in the face of a personal crisis can take you further from your goal if you’re not mindful.  Stop, pause and gather your thoughts.  List for yourself the possibilities on one side of a paper, the downfalls on the other, then breathe again. What is motivating your confusion?  Write that down, too.  Your just randomly gathering thoughts in your panic, so it’s okay.  Let them all out on paper.

The statement, “You can do anything you put your mind to,” leads us to believe that all you must do is imagine what you’d like to accomplish, set your mind to the task, to watch success come to us.  Setting your mind to the task is not the most important thing – you have to know what steps the task entails. “Focused intentions” combined with positive actions is a powerful force.  If you just understand that statement “If I pray hard enough, this will happen,” you’re off base because it fails to mention the difficulty and necessity of focusing your mind on a specific steps within the goal.

Most of us don’t know what we want…we know what we don’t want.  I don’t want to be divorced, my parents are divorced.  Okay…..but do you want to live your life with a person that makes you half way happy half of the time? We think we know what we want, but we really don’t.  What we don’t want? We don’t want a boring job, mate or life. We don’t want to be poor and go without, or struggle every day. We don’t want to disappoint our loved ones by being less than what they expect – or ourselves for striking out into the unknown and the possibility of failure.  The surest way to keep a boat safe is to keep it in the dock – until a storm comes, and then it’s most likely going to bash itself to pieces on the cage you’ve built around it.  (It’s a metaphor for personal safety, think like the boat for a sec.)

There is a Taoist term that roughly translates as “the action that arises of itself.” It’s called Wu-Wei.  Wu-Wei is the idea that when we are wholly present and let go of the situation, our Divine presence will show us something that is beyond the next ten feet in front of you. Christianity, like Taoism, has a vested interest in “God has a plan for your life” meaning that there are really no random occurrences in life, just pathways that you are learning from.  In the philosophy of Taoism, everything has its own nature, it’s own essence, already within it. Down to the pain and loneliness, the happiness and moments of joy, all has wisdom and life attached to it – everything matters.  Our journey is to learn in pace and grace on the voyage, to keep the natural balance of person-hood. To quote from “The Tao of Pooh”, by Benjamin Hoff, “the more man interfered with the natural balance produced and governed by the universal laws, the further away the harmony retreated into the distance.  The more forcing, the more trouble… Only then did life become sour.”

Here are five hard and fast things that you can do when you don’t know what to do.

1. Cover the basics.  Have you drank clean, fresh water?  Have you breathed outside, fresh air?  Have you been in natural sunlight for at least ten minutes today?  Have you eaten proper amounts of protein and carbohydrate?  They are basics, but that just means fundamental to a clear head.  If your day has consisted of three cups of hot java with a doughnut or sugary cereal, you’re already not thinking clearly.  Water.  Breath air in through the nose; hold it; out through the mouth.  Repeat that four times.  Enhance your calm.

2.  Make a statement to the positive.  “There is something good possible in this situation.”  Look for the upsides, and begin listing them.  Power of positive thinking is not wishful thinking, so be realistic within “possibilities.”  For all of you in the “letting go” phase of a relationship, I cannot wishfully, positively think that I hope my ex is found on the moon, his cold and lifeless corpse nailed to the lunar surface, frozen and devoid of air.  I can, however, imagine that I (more importantly, focusing on my life) am found on Atlantic Beach at sunrise, Christmas morning, having the time of my life with hubster Brian, sis Donna, and all of our accumulated family at the new beach house.  That gives me the third, important step.

Brian and I make life decisions together through communication...and casting the vision of what we're expecting the outcome to be, along with all the actions that cause a positive result.

3.  Vision Casting works.  You need a goal in your life, or you’re just floating along.  Are you living your life as a creator, choosing your life step by step and day by day, or is life living you? What is your main goal in life, the thing that motivates you as a human being?  I am at heart a writer.  My novel is the motivating factor in my life, that goal that I’ve set for myself.  Everything in my life works toward that goal; my family and friends all know my writing cycles and respect them; my husband and soul sister D proof read for me and keep up with the world that I inhabit as I’m creating a new reality.  The music that I listen to, the clothes I wear, all  of it is conducive to the creative process.  There are also other areas of my life that I want writing to compliment – for instance, my husband has started writing (a first) and reading for fun.  Our daughters are the most important people in the world to us – we put time and effort into keeping our family a cohesive unit.  It all takes planning, strategy.  I follow a life coach who offers a free book download for “Creating Vision Boards,” a task that I originally learned from life mapping in my first graduate degree.  You’ll notice from Christine’s video that we both believe you create your life, not just respond to it.  Visit her at www.christinekane.com and sign up for the book download.  Take the “wall” that is in front of you and back away from it.

4.  Listen to the winning strategist of others – but follow your instincts.  I listen regularly to people like my own life coach Tim Shurr (www.timshurr.com) and Anthony Robbins.  Christine Kane is an extraordinary resource for women.  Finding a life coach that can help mentor you is an important step if your plans are big time – if you want to make significant ground from where you’re stranding, or even just stop a habit like smoking or an addiction, this is the place to go to start.  We all have one thing in common as life coaches that I’ll tell you right now – you have to be grateful.  If you’re here, living and breathing, you can still create your own destiny.  I started in the far side of the poverty tracks in a single wide trailer, with no real hope or prospects.  Today, life is massively different for my family and I, with a beautiful home, wonderful family and some really out there life experiences.  I am grateful for my life.  It begins with the power of positive thinking and the willingness to give it your all.  I often don’t know what to do – so I rely on strengthening my strengths, and asking help where I am weak – places where Brian and Donna are both really strong.  We pray in the tradition of our faith.  I only worry about the next “ten feet” in front of me, but I keep that vision casting goal here on the chart in my office.  Try Christine’s book to create your own chart.

5.  Do no harm.  I  had a really difficult conversation with a person from my past a few months ago that cleared up a tough time in my life last winter.  I finally got to ask that question that bugs us all ” “Why?”  This person had really injured me, simply disappearing from our close friendship one day, from Skype, Twitter, Facebook, you name it.  I was totally blown away at the lack of real human respect and total disregard for the fabric of life.  I am through it now, and this person is not part of my life or future, just a small part of my past.  The whole situation is a valuable lesson in letting other people control you, and offering your love to people you don’t know well.  Take your time to vet those candidates for friendship or love.  Know what they are before you sign on.  As it turned out this “action” was the recommendation of a pastor who had good intentions and absolutely no empathy for human beings.  It was received as “Law” by my friend with more than a few co-morbid mental illness, something I was aware of.  “Do no harm” is both the creed of the medical society (including mine) and the Wiccan, Buddhist and Taoist religions. Do not harm. Don’t  discard humans like an unwanted trash bag, no explanation, no word.  Even if you have to cut ties in your world, do us all a favor and don’t damage people. Walking away from someone that is hurting you may require that you say good bye in a note, or from a safe space.  If you’re being abused, get out now.  If you’re in a relationship that constantly makes you jump through hurdles, damages your self worth or creates addiction/codependency?  Think again, long and hard.  This is life, not a dress rehearsal.  It’s over in a blink.   How to leave gracefully?  If you’re done?  Set boundaries, make yourself clear and say good bye with honor.  If you’re going to burn the bridge, do it with integrity, especially if you’ve made promises that other person believes.  If it’s a job or social situation that is limiting you, act with grace, give proper notice and do it right.  Life is a big circle, and you don’t want to be romping through the “shit you left behind.”

Dancing with Max, Taryn and Storie at my daughter's wedding. A truly fun moment.

Finally, create good Karma.  This photo to the left isn’t staged – I was dancing with some kids and was wonderfully happy.  What kids, you might ask?

In this photo, I am dancing with Max, the youngest son of my first husband from his second marriage to “the other woman.”  Instead of anger and bitterness, all I have is grace and love for their family, specially for the absolutely wonderful children they share.

It’s the first time our joint family has gotten together to celebrate Shea’s wedding to Clayton.  I think that my former husband appreciated the fact that I played tag, ran and played with the kids non stop – all five of them when you include mine.  Wow, what moments those were.  I wasn’t thinking “the children of the woman that you left me for.”  I was thinking…..wow, what great kids.  They’re beautiful and amazing.  Visiting with he and his family was a blessing. More love.  Yea.  Seriously, that was my thought process, and the event we all celebrated stayed the focus….the first of my babies to get married, and to get married to a boy that I have called my “son” since he was about 17…and now he’s 24. 🙂  I was – and am – grateful.  Beyond grateful.  I worship in sheer thanks.

But how does this overly happy story figure into the life scape of vision casting?  Fourteen years ago, when I was crying in the car, newly divorced, I couldn’t have seen this day I am living.  I had to trust, chart and know that god was going to light the way a step at a time, based on my decisions.  I chose to live in positive light and energy – I chose to harm none.

Steve Jobs is a man that I greatly admire.  He gave a commencement address at Stanford a few years back, and talked about what he did, when he didn’t know what to do…

“I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

“I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

“During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

“I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

Find the entire text of Steve’s remarkable speech at http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html

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