“I have no idea what I’m doing.”
I’ve felt this more than once. As I enrolled in degrees that I had no plan for. As I applied for jobs I couldn’t get. As I stumbled and swept through life, feeling like I was drowning. I had no idea what to do with my life.
I have no FUCKING idea what I’m doing.
Have you ever felt it? Looked around at all the people who seem to know exactly who they are and what they want? And you somehow feel, less than. You feel inferior to the people who know what they want. Who seem to have it all figured out.
Here’s what to do…
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1. Embrace the stupid
There were times in my life when I felt like I knew what I was doing. I was so certain. I was a young, cocky kid, pretty sure he knew everything there was to know about the world.
I was religious too. So not only was I certain. I was a sanctimonious asshole. You would have loved me.
The older I get, the less certain I get. The older I get, the less I know what I’m doing.
That’s totally fine.
Embrace the stupid. It will take you a long way in life.
And the people who are so certain of themselves, the sanctimonious asshats… they’ll fall sooner or later.
2. Flex your superpower
Not knowing what you’re doing is more than just okay. It’s the secret source of your power, if you want it to be.
You know that moment in class when the teacher explained something? It made no dang sense to anyone… but no one had the guts to stick up their hands and ask?
In a world of people faking it, admitting that you don’t know is rare. And that’s what makes it a superpower.
Because when you can admit that you don’t know what you’re doing, you can ask for help. That puts you head and shoulders in front of the people who are too embarrassed to ask.
Ask for help. Be dumb. And learn. It will give you everything you want in this life.
3. Try some stuff
So often, that feeling that we don’t know what we’re doing comes from the myth that there’s something we should be doing.
Isn’t there a calling or a passion we’re supposed to be finding? Aren’t I a unique snowflake who needs to find out exactly where I fit, or my life will be miserable?
It’s great that so many of us have been raised to think that we matter, because of course we do. But not because there’s some universal plan for our lives we need to step into.
Sorry, I spent a lot of time as a minister and I had to let that one go. People get cancer, die in car accidents, and get terrible haircuts that hold them back.
Do you think any of them believe that their unique purpose was to get cancer or die?
Once you let go of the idea that you have a unique, snowflake purpose you need to fall into, it’s incredibly liberating.
And what’s left is amazing. Because ultimately, all you can do is try some shit and find out what you sort-of like. You’re not going to be good at all. You’re not going to like it all.
4. Get a role model
Or, if you don’t want to waste a lifetime of trying shit to see if it sticks, you could always start modeling some people who have done it.
This might mean finding a role model or a mentor who has walked a path you think is interesting. Again, there’s no right answer. There are just interesting options.
Try having an informational interview or just a goddamn coffee with somebody whose life resonates.
5. Serve someone
A lot of our ideas about purpose come from a sick, self-obsessed culture that rips us apart. You want to know how to find some meaning? Stop worrying about yourself and go serve someone. Help somebody else. Make someone else’s day better.
Not only will you realize that nobody else knows what the hell they’re doing, but you’ll also see that connection is more important than anything else.
And by finding someone to serve, someone to help, you’ll connect to something bigger than yourself.
6. Get a coach
How about finding a coach? Last year I spent $10,000 on a coach. And it was worth it.
Because my coach helped me recognize something that I was chasing, that wasn’t really me. Something that made me miserable.
I had accepted a lie that the only way I could be happy was being some sort of thought leader and writing smart books.
Working with a coach, I realized it was bullshit. I wanted to be creative.
Finding a coach can be an awesome way to get some clarity.
7. Admit who you are
Riffing on my last point, I’m a creative. I don’t want to be an intellectual.
So when I try to surround myself with intellectuals and felt like I was failing miserably and didn’t fit in, it could have been imposter syndrome.
But actually, it was something more. It was me realizing that it wasn’t who I was or wanted to be.
I was the kid writing music and poems, plunking out a novel on my parents’ old mac. I painted for God’s sake. And that creativity made me happy.
So when I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, in part, I just had to be honest about what I already knew about myself.
You’re probably like this too. You might not know what career you want.
That doesn’t mean you have no idea who you are and what you want out of this life. Make a list of everything you know to be true about yourself.
And then see if you can spot any path forward from those things.
8. Take the next step
So not too long ago, I was watching this powerful film. Epic really. It’s called Frozen 2. In it – spoiler alert – Elsa dies. And her sister has to figure out how to move forward.
So she focuses on one thing only.
Do the next right thing.
Now there’s a life lesson if one ever existed. You don’t need to know the master plan. You don’t need to know what you’re doing. Who gives a shit?
Even if you thought you knew what you were doing, it will change a million times in the next 10 years.
Just focus on doing the next right thing. Take the next step forward. And trust that you will figure it out as you go.
If you have no idea what you’re doing, congratulations. You’re in great company. Neither do any of us. I hope this post helps you think about it, and feel better. Remember, embrace the stupid. And take the next step.