What’s Next? How to Find Your Direction When the Future Is Uncertain
September 16, 2019
Lately, one of the things I’ve been struggling with in my life is my professional direction. I’ve reached a point in my career where I have accomplished a lot of my initial goals, and I have found myself asking, “What’s next?”
Maybe you’re in a similar place, whether it has to do with your work, school, or personal life. I think human beings work best when they have a direction and are working toward it. Not having a direction is a tough place to be. Most of us have energy and need to be moving. When you aren’t exactly sure what direction to go, the energy can build up and cause anxiety.
3 Things to Do When You’re Struggling with Direction
What can we do to help ourselves find our direction and get moving again? In my own life, I have found three things to be helpful:
- Build your “uncertainty muscle.” I don’t know about you, but I like it when I know exactly what I’m doing. It feels more comfortable and certain that way. But the reality is that life isn’t always like that. You have times when things are more certain, and you are in a groove. But then there are other times where things are less certain, and you aren’t sure which way to go. These times of uncertainty happen for everyone. So, it can be helpful to learn to sit with the uncertainty a bit. Can you build your muscle for dealing with uncertain times?
- Reframe the uncertainty as an opportunity. When I’m searching for the next step, my immediate reaction is to get frustrated and upset. “I don’t know what to do next,” I tell myself. “What if I never find my motivation and direction again?” With questions like these, there is a negative evaluation, as if not having a specific direction is a bad thing. But there’s another way to look at it. Perhaps not have a specific direction right now is an opportunity to explore and discover something new. Maybe this time of uncertainty can give you the opportunity to figure out a new direction, or come up with a new plan. You may not have had the freedom to discover this if you had your head down, moving one foot in front of the other.
- Go back to your values. When I’m struggling with direction, it is a good reminder to go back to my values. Values are the overarching things in my life that I think are most important. It can be helpful to remind myself of my values, or even do some exercises again to discover my values. (Values don’t always stay the same over the course of your entire life; they can shift and change over time.) Once you get a clear sense of your values, you can evaluate different courses of action. How well do they line up with your values? In the long run, if you closely match your daily activities with your values, you will sustain a high level of motivation and energy over time.
What is one place in your life that you are struggling to find your direction? Could it be that you need to build your “uncertainty muscle?” Could you reframe the struggle as an opportunity? Could you do some work on your values?
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