That dreaded feeling
Do you ever find yourself asking, “What should I do now?”
Potentially this question flashes before you at an unexpected dead-end in the road, and others it comes a ‘real-life’ dead-end. Sometimes, long-time-coming or completely unexpected, this feeling isn’t normally a good one. However, the response to the feeling can produce a good outcome!
This feeling in the pit of your stomach might come when you realize a ton of hard work went into something but the outcome fell short. Or, in some cases, when you thought your end goal goes hand-in-hand with your desire but shortly before reaching the finish line, realize it falls short.
Bottom line, every once in awhile, I find myself thinking, “Now what?”.
Typically, this is after I’ve achieved a goal and it isn’t overly satisfying or when I’ve made the big decision to pivot. Sometimes though, it is after a long period of monotony.
Either way, the one big takeaway is to NOT just stay put. Whenever this feeling pops up, warding it off or waiting it out typically doesn’t work. Sure, potentially a good nights sleep, a glass of water and a good talk works things out. But, in my experience, when you truly feel that dead-end feeling, the immediate response needs to be, “Change something.”
Obviously, this is not as simple as just backing up and turning around. Instead, the change, or the ‘something different’ should be based on criteria personal to each individual. It also might take some deep consideration, thoughtfulness and reasonable timing depending on how many responsibilities a person has in their life.
So, while this blog post cannot tell you specifically what to do next. It is meant to provide the heart and mind steps to sort out your feelings and move forward. To change something.
As previously discussed here on the blog, I am almost always up for change. Not only change, but new experiences. At different points in my life, the newness came with varying degrees of considerations.
For example, in university, after a year of taking Teacher Education classes, I knew it wasn’t going to be my first career for a variety of reasons (which we will discuss another time). As soon as I had that pit in my stomach, I knew I needed to take action and do it fast so that I wasn’t wasting time. Keep in mind, becoming a teacher was the only thing I thought I had ever wanted to do. So, this heart feeling of ‘maybe this isn’t for me’ not only surprised me but really had me anxious thinking, “Well, what now…?”
Wondering how many would be disappointed in just the thought of me being something other than a teacher, worry and fear crept into my mind. Second came the questions flooding in which ranged from, “Where did this feeling come from?” to, “How am I going to switch now?”.
Please note, this is one example, however I have felt this dead-end feeling about 4 times in my life. Looking back, I see where each experience was less daunting. Not only less daunting, but also almost exciting. My most recent experience with this feeling felt more like a clear moment of intuition versus the dreadful feeling I first had.
The steps I took
An evaluation stage happened first, to determine if I was thinking clearly, whether I had just had a bad day or if something else was really the problem. After a brief reflection period and talking to an advisor, I realized my head and heart were aligned. This wasn’t just an emotion I was feeling, it was a logical thought coming from my mind to my heart to tell me to change something. In addition, I had enough experience in the classroom to know that this ‘feeling’ was founded on more than fear but actual experience.
The next step I took was more downright logical. During this logic check, I first determined the consequences of changing my focus of study (here in the states, called a major) after a year of school. Would I still have my scholarship? Was double majoring an option? How would my financial status change with the university? The list of logical questions I had to have answered went on and on. However, I did NOT let this deter me. Once I had the questions answered, I went back to do a heart check.
During my heart check I had to make a choice with all of the information I had gathered. Fortunately, this particular decision was big but also straight forward. Reason being, I was not going to loose anything with the change. Thankfully, I could instead, simply pick up a second major.
The ability to hold on to my initial path while trying out a new one would come with a much heavier workload and class schedule. It would also come with additional costs of not just college credits, but school books and other materials. Once I had all of my information gathered, I did a coin toss. JUST KIDDING! Sometimes the coin toss method does help though!
There were two heart moment days during this particular (approximately month long decision process). The first came when I did a mock schedule on the university’s system. Although I would have long class days, the two majors mostly operated on different schedules. The first YES I heard my heart screaming was when my schedule, two majors, two minors and two jobs clicked right into place. (That may or may not be a reference to my current career, you decide ;)).
ANYWAY, the second heart moment solidified my decision and was also a necessary logical step. Gaining approval from the university to take a greater amount of credits than the typical allotment for a full time student. When I saw the approval come through, I KNEW it was the right step forward.
In my experience, this inner knowing is not always apart of the decision making process. Sometimes we do have to step out in faith. That being said however, that first step is either going to come with a dreadful feeling or a giddy feeling. Listen to it. Get to the point, where your, “What now…?” dreaded question becomes, “What now!!!!?” excited question (as illustrated by our stick figures).
Defining your ‘something different’
Let’s see if you can confidently answer your, “Now What?” question with, “Something different.” And not only know its going to be a change, but realize it is at least a step closer to your heart’s desire.
One of my favorite things about this is that it is almost fail proof. Taking this three step process, no matter the size of your choice to do something different will produce some sort of answer! You can and will be able to look back and see that you made sure it was not just a reaction, you gathered all the facts and consequences and lastly, you checked back in with yourself.
The three step process
- Evaluate your thoughts. Before you start finding out any further information, get yourself in a calm and collected state of mind. Do whatever helps you to think clearly. For some, its writing lists, others talking to a good friend. If this, “Now what?” feeling is still tugging at your heart strings, move to the next phase.
- Get logical. Time to do some research. First write down any and all concerns you can think of. Sometimes it helps to have someone to discuss your thoughts or options with. My recommendation here would be to steer clear of any worriers or overprotective folks. Instead, go to a trusted advisor, neutral party or expert. Try and find answers to as many of your questions and concerns without over doing it.
- Check back in with your heart. At this point, you may already have that big green GO feeling from your heart. If you are like me, it takes me a second to switch from logical to emotional or dreamy. One exercise that helps me is to visualize myself running toward the new change. Another option is to use the coin toss so you can see if you feel disappointed either way. Make your final choice, and start taking steps!
P.S. One recommendation: as you start taking either baby steps or big leaps, check back in with your heart. It will tell you when you are off course!
Lastly, I would LOVE to connect with you below. Have you ever felt this heart tugging ‘redirection’. And if so, what did you do?!
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