5 things to do, when you don’t know what to do

As many of you know, Angela and I have been through a lot of change lately and we are currently living in a constant state of transition.

In December, I left my 10-year journey of serving with an incredible non-profit organization, the WinShape Foundation.  I loved the work I did through the foundation, but at the same time had another internal passion to serve in the business world by opening my own business.  So, I left WinShape to pursue my role owning and operating a Chick-fil-A restaurant.  I am on course to open a new Chick-fil-A in the Birmingham, Alabama area in January 2015.

This was not an easy decision for me.  In fact, I would argue that the decision to leave my work at the WinShape Foundation to pursue my new role as a Chick-fil-A Operator was possibly the hardest decision I have had to make in my lifetime.  There were days that I did not know what to do – I did not know what decision to make, who to talk to, what to pursue, and so on.  I went back and forth on the decision before making my decision late in the summer of 2013.

During this time, I kept going back to one comment that I have heard many times over the past few years:

When you don’t know what to do, do what you know to do.

This may seem confusing, but when things get hard or unclear, we do not usually have the wisdom or knowledge to know the best outcome should be.  We usually have to go through a process to get to a place where we feel more confident about where you are headed.  Here are 5 things I did on a regular basis and still do when I don’t know what to do – (I would love to hear what you would add to the list in the comments on this post)

  1. Pray:  I am not sure if you are a person of faith or not, but I believe that God gives us guidance when we ask.  I also believe that God does things when we pray that he may not do if we do not ask.  Time and time again in scripture we are told to ask, to see Him, and to pray.  When we journeyed through our decision and even in our transition time every day, I cling to the truths of Proverbs 3: 5 – 6 “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.”
  2. Seek Counsel:  Life was not intended to do alone.  We are intended to learn from others, to grow from others, and to live in community with others.  There are plenty of people around you who have lived more life than you and have more insight on areas than you will ever have.  When I wrestled through my decision, I wanted to hear other thoughts and opinions.  I wanted to know what other people would do if they were in my shoes.  Find people who will challenge you and give you a different perspective.  Lastly, find people to talk to who care about you and not the outcome you choose.
  3. Reflect:  It is amazing what clarity comes when you are alone, thinking and meditating on what you have to do.  I gained more insight at the quietness of 5:30 am than I ever gained throughout the days of my decision.  I gained more clarity when I stayed up alone at midnight just to think and reflect.  We do not create enough time in our lives to think and to be still, but when we do there is incredible power in the silence.
  4. Journal:  Journaling can really help you process what you are going through, but even if it does not lead to more clarity, you will treasure these writings in the years to come.   Journaling was an unbelievable tool for me in my decision this time.  In fact, I made my final decision at the mid point of a journal entry I was writing.  I wrote one sentence that provided more clarity for me than I could have ever gained anywhere else.   As I stared at the paper, it was like I was looking in a mirror of my reality and I knew what my decision was.  I stopped writing and knew that the processing was over.
  5. Have fun:  We get so enthralled in our decisions that we have to make.  They become our life; all that we think about, all that we research and all that we dedicate our free time to.  We have to be wise to get clarity when we do not know what to do, but it is healthy to stop thinking about it every once in a while and just go have fun.  Go on a run and clear your mind.  Go fishing with your kids.  Go on a bike ride, watch a movie, listen to a guilty pleasure on Pandora; just do something to rest your mind and your heart.  The decision will not go away, you can come back to it, but when you free your mind for a little while you will get clarity in the long run.

I am not an expert decision making, nor do I claim to know even how to come to a good conclusion in all situations.  What I do know is that when I do not know what to do, I need to do what I know to do.

Question: These are a few things that I do, what do you do when you don’t know what to do? (Leave your answers in the comments below)

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About Brent Fielder

I am passionate about being intentional with my influence in the next generation. I love to read, write, spend time with friends, and invest in people around me. I am an avid coffee drinker and a raving fan of Chick-fil-A. I am married to an incredible wife and father of two awesome boys.

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