What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do Next

Have you ever been completely overloaded and overwhelmed, so much so that you don’t know what to do next?

Even today, I have that happen all the time.

I fill up my goal lists with dozens of great ideas. I start several different projects, plus have my clients’ files scattered across my desk.

I end up with so much to do, its easy to get overwhelmed, and simply walk away, doing nothing.

Yet “nothing” isn’t going to get you closer to your goal. And “nothing” won’t help you move forward towards the life you’ve dreamed about.

Early in my career I had a mentor that I spoke with often, especially when I ran into problems with moving forward. At one point she said something that was so simple, yet so profound.

“You’re over thinking it. Just take the next logical step forward, and the rest will fall into place.”

That simple statement has helped me out many, many times since. I have used it again and again whenever I have felt overwhelmed, and not sure what to do next.

Here are the three steps I take:

Don’t Think About The Outcome

The bigger the outcome, the harder it is to take the next step. With so many steps and tasks to complete before you reach your goal, how do you know what the right step is? Because outcomes can change and fluctuate along the way, instead of worrying about the outcome as you are choosing a task, focus on what the right task is for you at this moment. There are always problems, resources and learning curves along the way. Sometimes you’ll be heavily influenced by what you learn – so much so your outcome may actually change. If you concentrate on doing each task to the best of your ability, you’ll come out positively in the end.

Focus On The Right Action Step

Especially with a large goal, you are likely to have dozens of different tasks; some you’ll love, and some not so much. Yet if you want to reach your goal, you have to accomplish every task. You can’t put off the tasks you don’t like forever. Instead, prioritize each task according to how it will impact the final goal. And when you have to do something, even if it’s not your favorite thing to do, find a way to get it done. There will always be more than one way to get things done; find a solution that works best for you. It may be to hire someone to do it for you. Or it may be to take a class or training program to increase your efficiency. Work to complete the task, and get it done.

Just Do It Now

I know so many people that put things off simply because they are scared they won’t do it correctly, or they won’t do it perfect enough. In almost every case, doing something now is better than nothing. Yes, if you do something, it might not be perfect. And that’s okay. Perfection is something you hold in your own mind, and create your own standards by. Others around you won’t judge you in the same manner, and in many cases won’t know that its not “perfect”. But if you don’t have it available, you won’t be found at all. Therefore it’s important to get off the sidelines and into the game. Learn from what you’ve done and how people react, change it along the way, and grow from there.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with your situation? How did you overcome it, and get things done?

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We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

Comments

  1. This is great advice. One thing I have found really helpful is breaking down vague task items into specific steps, using verbs. It’s pretty subtle, but it seems to make a difference. So instead of having contact Jane Smith, you’d say call Jane Smith, or email Jane Smith.
    For larger projects, like get new website, it’s hard to move forward on it without the next step broken down. So I might have call graphic designer to discuss web site design. and then, after you complete that first step, the next step becomes clear, and you can move forward without over thinking it.