What To Do When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing

By Elsie Boskamp
Aug. 11, 2022
Articles In Life At Work Guide

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If you’re like most people going through a rut, a big career change, or a life milestone, chances are that you don’t know exactly what you should do next. Not having a clear idea of what you’re doing, whether in your professional or personal life, is completely normal, even though it probably won’t feel that way when it’s happening to you.

To help guide you through times of uncertainty, we’ve rounded up all the best things you should do when you have no idea what you’re doing, whether you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life or struggling with imposter syndrome.

Key Takeaways

  • When you’re trying to figure out what to do next, put aside your expectations for yourself, work to change your mindset, and step out of your comfort zone.

  • If you feel stuck in your career, set achievable goals and work toward those.

  • If you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, remember that no one always knows what they’re doing, ask for help, and try new things anyway.

What To Do When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing

12 Tips for Figuring Out What You Should Be Doing

If you’re wondering what to do when you don’t know what to do, look no further. Whether you’re looking for ways to fight imposter syndrome or searching for techniques to help you move forward in your career, figure out your next step, and squash those feelings of uncertainty for good, you’re in the right place.

Here are 12 of the best tips you could use to finally figure out what you should be doing:

  1. Stop comparing yourself. When it comes to imposter syndrome, low self-confidence, and strong feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty in life, comparing yourself to others will only hold you back more.

    To help you get over this rough patch and gain the clarity you need to decide what to do next in your life or your career, make a conscious effort to stop comparing yourself and your abilities to those of your peers and colleagues.

    When you find yourself thinking that other people are better than you, try to change your mindset by thinking of one positive thing you did during the day.

  2. Don’t try to follow a timeline. Feelings of doubt, self-sabotage, and wariness sometimes come to fruition when people believe they are expected to follow a predetermined timeline in life. If you’re worried about not knowing what to do with your life, try not to worry about following any specific schedule.

    Instead of getting bogged down with thoughts of “I need to find a career right after college graduation,” or “I need to have a house by the time I’m 30,” try to focus on smaller attainable goals and take comfort in the fact that everyone accomplishes things at their own pace in life.

  3. Don’t worry about what others think. Just as you should stop comparing yourself to others, you should also work to stop caring what others think of you. This is especially important if you’re suffering from imposter syndrome.

    Instead of worrying about people thinking you’re a fraud or discovering that you’re not as capable as they thought you were, focus on being the best employee and person you can be. When you stop focusing on what others think of you, you’ll be your most confident and capable self.

  4. Focus on yourself. Whenever you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, it’s important to focus on yourself and take conscious steps to improve your mindset and your life. Giving yourself extra attention that you normally wouldn’t is an excellent way of figuring out what you really want and understanding why your life is the way it is.

    Some of the best ways of focusing on yourself and determining what to do when you have no idea what you’re doing are reading self-improvement books, reflecting on your day each night, keeping a journal, and listening to motivational talks and podcasts.

  5. Change negative beliefs and behaviors. Negative beliefs and behaviors are to blame for the majority of people who are feeling uncertain about their abilities and who don’t know what to do with their life or their career.

    Changing the way you think by driving negative thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors from your mind can help you find clarity and gain a deeper understanding of where you’re meant to be and what you’re meant to do.

  6. Try new things. Whenever you don’t know what to do or you’re simply just feeling down, trying new things can give you the fresh new perspective you need to move on to the next chapter of your life.

    When you have no idea what you’re doing, try to challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. Trying new things may feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar at first, but it’s also a surefire way to realize your passions and capabilities.

  7. Become aware of your actions and your environment. Sometimes people experience feelings of uncertainty because they get so preoccupied with their daily routine and, in turn, wind up leading a largely disconnected and detached life. If you’re one of the many Americans feeling like they have no idea what they’re doing, this could be the cause.

    Tuning into your surroundings, yourself, and the choices and actions you make can help you become more aware of your goals and desires, thus guiding you in the direction of fulfillment and conviction.

  8. Weigh your options. Whenever you find yourself at a crossroads in life — like when you feel like you have no idea what to do with your life — it’s usually a good idea to take a step back and weigh all of your options before making any rash decisions.

    When you’re not sure what your next step in life should be, some options you might consider could be going back to school, changing your college major, exploring new career paths, seeking advice from professionals working your dream job, or experiencing a new place or culture.

  9. Engage your mind. If you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, try engaging your mind by learning something new, traveling to a new place, or talking with new people. Tuning into your creativity and embarking on a journey of self improvement are great ways of engaging your mind and determining your next step in life.

    Just as it’s important to try new things when you’re feeling uncertain in life, it’s just as important to do things that also engage your mind and encourage you to think differently and look at life from a new perspective.

  10. Find an appropriate work life balance. Most people who feel like they don’t know what to do are experiencing anxiety and stress because of their career. If this is happening to you, it’s important to remember that life is more than just a job.

    Finding an appropriate work life balance, either by speaking with your supervisor or looking for a position that allots you more time away from work, can be a great way to calm your mind and figure out what you should do next in life.

  11. Follow your passions and talents. When all else fails, follow your passions and talents. Whether you don’t know what to do in relation to your personal life or your professional life, it’s essential to stay true to your core values and do things that you truly love.

    Of course financial stability is important, but when it comes to figuring out what you want to do in life, following your passions is just as important. If you’re asking yourself what to do next, the answer most likely already lies deep within you.

  12. Visualize your goals. Ever heard the saying “fake it till you make it”? Well, when it comes to figuring out what to do when you feel like you don’t have a clue, this could really come in handy.

    By visualizing your goals and manifesting confidence and optimism even during times of doubt and uncertainty, or “faking it till you make it,” you’ll get a clearer outlook on the life you want to lead and the steps you need to take in order to get there.

Finding Success When You Don’t Know What to Do With Your Career

If you find yourself not knowing what to do with your job or your life, you may be fearful and anxious about your long-term career success. Although this can be a time of uncertainty in your life, it certainly doesn’t have to hinder your personal and professional accomplishments.

One of the best ways of finding success and fulfillment when you don’t know what to do with your career is by setting realistic and attainable goals.

When you feel like you’re stuck in your career, identifying your goals by attending specialized workshops and therapy sessions or creating vision boards using words and images that closely align with your passions and intentions is a great method of reconnecting with yourself and figuring out what your next step is.

Knowing what you want to do isn’t always easy, but creating an action list containing achievable goals, then tracking your progress, and sticking to your plan is a great step in the right direction.

Being hyper-aware of your uncertainty of not knowing what to do yet also recognizing your goals and taking the steps you need to reach them could be your key to figuring out what you want to do and continuing down the road to career success.

Imposter Syndrome

Sometimes, having no idea what you’re doing is rooted in a career or life change — like graduating college or getting a promotion. Other times, however, the feeling of not knowing what to do spurs from a deep-rooted belief people hold in which they view themselves as being undeserving of the success they achieve as a direct result of their own skills and efforts.

This belief, coupled with constant thoughts of “I have no idea what I’m doing,” is classified as imposter syndrome and is said to affect almost everyone at least once throughout their lifetime.

To put it simply, people who suffer from imposter syndrome think that their success is simply a matter of luck or coincidence and therefore believe that they have no idea what they’re doing and worry that others will soon uncover them as being fraudulent.

In actuality, however, the overwhelming majority of professionals with imposter syndrome have legitimately achieved results that lead to their success.

While professionals suffering from imposter syndrome are typically perfectly capable of performing their job responsibilities without fault, their thoughts of inadequacies can often hinder their performance on the job and, in turn, directly affect their job and long-term career success.

According to research, people with imposter syndrome often advance slower as they apply for fewer promotions and development training opportunities than their peers, struggle to show initiative and leadership skills, lack the motivation to work, and even overcompensate, leading to burnout and mental exhaustion.

Whether you have imposter syndrome or just simply don’t know what to do after a career or life change, there are plenty of easy fixes to help get you back on track and beat those feelings of self-doubt and skepticism.

Looking at your career as a journey, reframing the way you view success, and reviewing your previous professional and personal milestones are some of the best ways to beat the “I have no idea what I’m doing” syndrome.

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

It may not feel like it, but you can overcome imposter syndrome. Here are a few steps to take to help you do this:

  • Remember no one knows what they’re doing 100% of the time. Even people who have had the same job for 20 years still have moments of not knowing what they’re doing, so relax: You’re in good company.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t know how to do something, find someone to teach you. Whether it’s talking with a coworker or taking a class, being proactive in learning and growing is more important than knowing exactly what you’re doing all the time.

  • Be okay with not having a multi-step plan. Sometimes it’s good to not know what you’re doing. Trying new things whether you can see the end result or not helps you grow, even when it doesn’t work out perfectly 100% of the time.

Final Thoughts

If you find yourself in a position where you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, either in life or in your career, it’s important to take a step back and reflect on yourself, your decisions, and your life as a whole before coming to a conclusion or making any important decisions.

Whether you’re at a crossroads due to a big life event, a career change, a rough patch, or a case of imposter syndrome, there are plenty of techniques you can use to find the clarity, stability, and answers you’re looking for.

Working towards small, achievable goals, tracking your progress, following your passions, trying new things, engaging your mind, and focusing on yourself are all great ways to continue down a path towards success, figure out your next big step, and realize what it is you want to do with your life.

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Articles In Life At Work Guide
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Elsie Boskamp

Elsie is an experienced writer, reporter, and content creator. As a leader in her field, Elsie is best known for her work as a Reporter for The Southampton Press, but she can also be credited with contributions to Long Island Pulse Magazine and Hamptons Online. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Stony Brook University and currently resides in Franklin, Tennessee.

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