Do you ever have days where you just feel like you have no idea what to do?
That’s a big, broad question, but I have a feeling you might know what I mean. Some days, sometimes, life just feels overwhelming and action – any action – feels impossible.
I’ve been feeling this a bit lately. Some days, I’m a clarity and action machine. But some days, I’m just like, “but what next?” And for someone who loves action, that’s a really uncomfortable and frustrating place for me to be.
I think part of the reason this feels sticky for some of us is that, especially most recently, our culture is obsessed with action, with hustle. So when we slow down, take time off, don’t stay in perpetual motion, it feels weird and wrong. It almost feels confusing. Also, we feel lazy. And then, since we’re still surrounded by people and action everywhere, we compare our experience to that and it feels even more like, “well, what’s wrong with me? Why don’t I know what to do? Why can’t I do it?”
Some of it, to be sure, is bluster. Not everyone really knows what to do. And even when they know, they’re not capable of doing it every single day either. Not everyone in constant motion is in effective or productive or aligned motion. There are two sides of the “action for the sake of action” coin.
I’m a big believer in One Thing a Day. More specifically, I like and use a Top Three nearly every day, but I give myself credit for just one of those three things. Gosh, it sounds so, so small, especially when I read that back to myself. Like, one thing a day? That’s it? But yeah. That’s it.
Allowing for One Thing to be OK makes the space for everything to be OK.
And on those days when everything feels impossible – guess what? If I can do even one small thing – knowing that it’s the right thing – that means that day, everything is OK too.
Now, to be totally clear – that doesn’t give me an excuse to only do one thing every day. It doesn’t mean I’ll slack off on my responsibilities, my dreams, my action plan. But it does give me the freedom to act in accordance with my energy and purpose, and to work and show up with the most impact.
To give a few examples, on days when I’m struggling to write or film a video, I allow those tasks to drop to the bottom of my list, perhaps even off my Top Three. Instead, I might do some research on podcasts to pitch, send an email or two to hosts. I might circle back with a few coffee quest connections to continue building those relationships. I might take a walk. Or I might reach out with an extra note to a client.
Maybe none of those things gets me an immediate response or result for the day. But every single one of those things is aligned with my values and vision, every one of those things will definitely put me in a good mood, and every one of those things will lead to some sense of accomplishment. And, of course, that leads to continued action and plenty of days that are full of far more than one small thing. These things are right things for me.
Naturally, the underlying factor here in determining what that right thing is, is that you understand your values and vision, and exactly what actions are aligned them.
And you also have to understand how those actions will contribute to executing values and vision. What is the purpose of this action? This One Thing? What is it intended to achieve? Only you can define that, but it’s best to have an idea of that definition. It certainly makes these daily decisions easier, especially on the days that making decisions feels impossible.
And with each specific day of your calendar – again, especially the ones that feel challenging, it goes back a bit to the one question for more productivity and flow: what’s the goal of the day? How does this fit into my overall goal? (Dream, strategy, plan, LIFE…) When you’re clear on the broader picture, you can then break it down into bite-sized chunks that you are absolutely sure are adding to the cause of making your dreams a reality, not just busywork for the sake of staying busy doing something, but also not keeping you stuck. It gives you something to do when you don’t know what to do.
Certainly, in this process, you’ve got to be discerning about whether you’re allowing distraction to take over versus allowing yourself the space to breathe and refocus in a healthy way. That takes some practice. It takes some time to learn to trust yourself.
But the reality is, you’re going to have far more days where you do know what to do and acting feels easy.
So the trust is there. If you’re clear about the ongoing process, the days of one small thing are totally OK, and better than that – they might just be some of the best days.
The point here is that yes, action begets action and you can’t just wait for motivation to strike. This is a version of “when you feel like you can’t do anything, just do something.” But prioritize making that something the right thing.
Understand what that right action is for you, and then know that even if it’s only one, it’ll always be the best one.
Need a little bit of support in determining what’s right for you? Let’s chat about it. We’ll find your right thing.