What to Do Next When You Don't Know What to DoWhen I left my job, I had no idea what I was going to do next.  I had college degrees.  I had more than 30 years of experience as a teacher and program director.  I was excited because new opportunities were in front of me.  My only problem?  I had no idea what I wanted to do next.

I went to job fairs, job clubs, and attended workshops by job recruiters.  I was surrounded by people like me who were too much: too old, too young, too educated, too experienced, too little experience.  We were hungry for work and willing to morph into whatever was necessary to find employment.

Although I had stellar recommendations and references, I couldn’t find a job.  I started to believe I was unhireable.

And I stayed unhireable – until I changed my perspective.

I attended an event hosted for those who were eager to work.  One of the speakers agreed many employers were interested in young college graduates because their salaries were lower and they were not tainted with previous experiences.  However, many small and mid-sized companies were especially interested in seasoned professionals with rich experience, wisdom, and skills.  This kind of experience was particularly valuable to new organizations and companies in transition that were shaping new paths and new direction.

I realized as long as I perceived my own gifts and talents as limitations rather than attributes, opportunities would elude me. When I shifted my thinking; when I felt pride (instead of regret) about my experience, education, and skills; when I got clear about what I wanted to do; job offers and opportunities flowed in my direction.

“America was not build on fear,” insisted Harry S. Truman. “America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

If you are not sure about your next career move, your job in this moment is to get clear about who you are, what you value, what gifts you possess, and what positions align with your passion.  When you know what you bring to the employment table, you become more aware of positions that best fit your skills and experience greater confidence when you apply and interview for those positions.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” Words of inspiration have the potential to shift your perception and see new opportunities that may have been buried by negative self-talk, self-criticism, and pessimism.

Are you unsure about the next step in your journey?  Allow the words of inspiration below to become a positive mantra if you’re plagued with self-doubt or uncertainty:

Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.  – Guy Finley

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Uncertainty is a sign of humility, and humility is just the ability or the willingness to learn. – Charlie Sheen

It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.  –Zig Ziglar.

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you and, in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.  – Brian Tracy

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.  – Albert Einstein

Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.  – Robert H. Schuller

Your most important work is always ahead of you, never behind you.  – Stephen Covey

A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships were built for.  – William Shedd

In life you need either inspiration or desperation.  – Tony Robbins

Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.  – Gever Tulley

Sometime a burning bridge isn’t a bad thing. It prevents you from going back to a place you should never have been in the first place. – Anonymous 

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others. – Mahatma Gandhi

Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.  – Paulo Coelho

What to Do Next When You Don't Know What to Do“Your life doesn’t just ‘happen.’  Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you,” maintained Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. ”The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure.” He added, “Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.”

As you consider your next steps, think about these five questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I want to do?
  3. Who do I want to do it for?
  4. What do they want or need?
  5. How are they changed?

Get clear about what you want to do and why you want to do it.  Regularly reevaluate and refine your goals.  Make adjustments within your schedule to engage in goal-related activities.  And, most importantly, commit to the work of moving forward.  Do something. Start somewhere.

Your attitude influences your perceptions. Your perceptions impact your decisions. And your decisions shape your life.

You don’t have to have a clear plan to move forward. Trust your instincts. You only need to believe you have enough courage within you to do the next right thing. One step at a time.

What single step can you take today to move forward?


In my book, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide, I provide tools that will help you reconnect with your passion, define your purpose, and create attainable goals.

Reconnect to your passion with these tips from 7 Reasons Why You Need a Dream.

Use these tips to Write a Personal Purpose Statement.

Focus your direction with tips from How to Write SMART Personal Goals.

Need more inspiration? Read 11 Inspiring Quotes When You Need Encouragement.



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