What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Early in my career, I was the marketing director for a book publishing company. Because of my workload and the on-going pressure to produce results, I felt overwhelmed. I was certain that it was only a matter of time before my boss discovered that I was in over my head.

A Thumbtack Pinpointing a Location on a Map - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/alephx01, Image #101025

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/alephx01

This produced uncertainty. I was afraid to act. Instead, I worried and spent an inordinate amount of time thinking through worst-case scenarios—something I am pretty good at.

Frustrated, I went to a wise, older colleague and poured out my soul. He listened patiently, then said something I will never forget:

“Mike, just do the next right thing.”

“That’s it?” I asked.

“Yep. That’s it,” he replied. “You’re over-thinking it. Just do the next right thing. It will be okay.”

That simple concept simultaneously gave me relief and clarity. I have used it time and time again in moments when I have felt overwhelmed and uncertain.

Here are the three steps I take.

  1. Forget about the ultimate outcome. The truth is that I probably have less control over the outcome than I think. I can undoubtedly influence it, but I can’t control it. Besides, before I ever get to the final destination, many of the variables will change. Projects and deals have a way of unfolding over time. There will be problems—and resources—I can’t see now.
  2. Instead, focus on the next right action. Since worrying about the outcome is unproductive, I try to think about the next actions that will move the project forward. This is far more accessible that something in the distant future. For example, as an author, I can worry about whether or not my book will become a bestseller or I can make sure that I am fully prepped for the interview I have scheduled today.
  3. And do something now! This is key. Something is better than nothing. Too often, we think that we have to have clarity about how it will all turn out. In my experience, I rarely have this. But, as I move toward the destination, making course corrections as necessary, I experience clarity. Therefore, it is important to get off the sidelines and into the game.

So if you are in a situation where you feel overwhelmed and don’t know what course to take, just do the next right thing.

Question: What do you do when you feel overwhelmed and uncertain? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

    4. List the Next Right Things: I am a big list-maker. This also helps bring clarity for me and enables me to both track progress and keep focused on next steps.

    5. Pray: Especially when I feel overwhelmed, prayer brings me greater clarity and enables me to ensure I follow God’s plan. The answers may not always be clear, but in a way, this is always the next right thing.

    I remember a time in my career when it felt like the wheels were coming off the wagon. I was distressed and feared the worst. However, I spent a lot of time in prayer and just doing the next right thing. Much as you suggested, there many variables I could not control and the ultimate outcome I could not have predicted. Many of the blockers I worried about wound up being removed through no action of my own. As a result of focusing on the next right thing, when those roadblocks fell, my car was in the right place to win the race.

    Excellent post as always Mike. Thank you for sharing. “The next right thing” will be in the back of my head whenever I feel overwhelmed now.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Benjamin. These are great additions. Prayer is probably #1 for me.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Benjamin, you added two great points. I agree we need to pray, however people often use “prayer” as an excuse not to do anything. Do you have any ideas on how someone could overcome the inaction caused by “prayer”?

      • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

        Realize that it’s not an either/or proposition but a both/and.  Pray and work.

        • Joe Lalonde

          Thanks for the suggestion Mark. I realize it’s not an either/or proposition but just wanted some feedback from others on how to deal with it when the issue arises.

          • Katherinegeorge53

            I heard it said pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on you.

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          Good point, Mark.

      • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

        In addition to Mark’s comment, for me, it’s about listening and then taking action. Often, after prayer, I know what needs to be done. I suspect many of us feel the same way.

        • http://www.facebook.com/reisytal Jessica Reis

          So true!  Another beautiful aspect of prayer is that it is internalized: I can be praying and working at the same time.  Consciousness of God, a sense of openness towards Him about your emotions and plans, quiet in your soul, a deep breath of the mind—this is the kind of prayer that my heart desires to employ every day while I am sitting at my desk typing away on the next status report.

          • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

            Prayer is the answer, but we have to remember to open our hearts and listen to what we are being told.

            Jim

        • Joe Lalonde

          Benjamin, thanks for the response. That’s a good point to add. Listen while you’re praying and then take action.

    • Anonymous

      Love your reply.  I’m a big list maker as well, though sometimes I feel like I spend too much time listing and not enough time executing.

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      Good call Benjamin. Prayer should always be #1. 

    • Anonymous

      Prayer is top of my list…I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t pray.  Thanks for sharing!

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      I like lists also, they help keep things focus and prioritized.

      Jim

      • http://www.irunurun.com Travis Dommert

        This was precisely the case with our company’s founder.  Years ago, he was stuck, overwhelmed, and ready to quit.  Instead, he sat down and asked the Lord to show him what to do…

        He got an answer.  Consistent with Michael’s post…
        1. Take his business plans and slide them into the trash.  
        2. Take out a piece of paper and write down 6 things he could do THAT DAY to move the business forward.  Nothing fancy…just the fundamentals to his job.
        3. Track how consistently he did those 6 things each and every week.

        First he learned that he wasn’t doing the fundamentals consistently (he scored himself each week and found his weekly score was equivalent to an F-).  

        He re-prioritized and within 6 mo’s, his business took off. He’s worked that way for 8 years and last year used this theory to build a free web app to help others in this situation (irunurun).

        Business plans are valuable tools, but at the end of the day, great results come from focused, consistent action.  Not sure what to do?  Pray, listen, TAKE ACTION…repeat.

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          Sometimes our long-term goals (business plans) can get in the way of short-term planning… we don’t take the time to break down the big goals into smaller, more manageable goals.

        • Julianna O

          Hi Travis, thanks for mentioning irunurun. I was very impressed with the introduction video and decided to give irunurun a try!

          • http://www.irunurun.com Travis Dommert

            Thank you, Julianna!  Glad to hear that you liked it.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Run hard!

          • Julianna Wu

            Hi Travis! Thanks, run hard to you too!

            I have been using irunurun for 3 weeks now, it really does help me to stay on top of things. I have a quick suggestion that might help to perfect the program. When I try to add or change a task, it says the changes take in effect next week. It would be nice if the changes could take in effect right away.

    • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

      Michael has really shared gold with us here but I like your extra points Benjamin. Maybe though Pray should be # 1 not # 5.

    • Paul

      Pray? ugh…

      It blows my mind that people still delude themselves into believing such drivel.

  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    I wish I could say that I always do the next right thing, but alas, I don’t. I’m a Type A so my instinct is to control….anything and everything. When something is out of my control, I try to control what I can and that leads to disaster in most every situation. Fortunately, I go in that direction far less often than I used to. Prayer is what really keeps me centered and grounded in those times. Also, my husband is quick to point out when I am in my control mode and it helps me re-focus.

    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

      Looking to your spouse for an outsider’s perspective is another great suggestion Leah – thank you for sharing.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Leah, even though you might not do the next thing right, you’re at least doing something.

  • http://www.pauladavispeace.com Paula Davis

    Michael,
    This is just what I needed to be reminded of this morning. Thanks for helping to bring clarity to a fuzzy day!
    Paula

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You’re welcome, Paula.

  • http://shannonsstudio.com ShannonChristensen

    Great advice. Very helpful.

  • Matt

    not to be cliche’…but I pray for wisdom and direction and read my Bible.

  • http://chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

    Michael, you have NO IDEA how much this speaks into me right now……that’s really about I should say at the moment on that. Lift up a prayer for me real quick if you don’t mind. Right now, I definitely don’t know what to do…

    Thank You!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You got it, Chris. You’ll do the right thing.

      • http://chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

        Thanks Michael!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    “Just do the next right thing.” – That’s a great piece of advice. Simple yet powerful.  

    I have felt uncertain at several points in my career. I was desperate and feeling low in those circumstances. I used to worry about my future and the consequences arising from such critical events. Those were nightmares for me. I started to seek comfort from the word of God. Prayers used to relieve me a lot. 

    Slowly I realized that it is important “not to boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” (Pro27:1) And, I was comforted by the verse “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Mat 6:34).  

    Now, when I feel overwhelmed and uncertain, I ensure that I do the following: 
    — return to the basics
    — introspect my current priorities and correct my deviations
    — focus on the important task (and not the urgent one)
    — balance and keep things in perspective (when to say yes and when to say no)
    — remind myself that “the Sun sets down every day and rises up the next day!”

    • Joe Lalonde

      Uma, you make a great point about returning to basics. Often we get sidetracked and make the situation much more complicated than it needed to be. If we take a step back and look at the situation and break it down into basics, we see it’s not as dire as we believed it to be.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Good point. Stephen Covey states, put first things first and begin with the end in mind. Great advice to start your day with.

      Jim

  • http://www.momstoolbox.com Amy @ MomsToolbox

    Your advice makes so much sense yet is tough to implement!

    I, also, need to change my mindset and just do the next thing instead of focusing on, and getting lost in, the ultimate outcome.

    What do I do when overwhelmed? I research or reorganize, a.k.a. procrastinate
    What should I do? The next thing!

  • Becky

    This post came to me just as I had finished writing an email to my “special needs” son’s new 1st grade teacher. My email to her was intended to ‘warn’ her of his learning disabilities.He struggles in so many areas of learning–expressive language disorder, dysgraphia, etc.  Talk about feeling overwhelmed! I am soooo anxious for him…scared of what his first day might be like (in a worst-case-scenario way). He is such a loving, sweet boy, and I have to learn to trust God to take care of him when I can’t. But it is so hard to do! So…after reading this post, I will try to just do “the next right thing,” which right now will involve waking all 3 of my kids up, making them a good breakfast, being positive and upbeat with them about their upcoming day, and praying for them throughout their day. Thank you for your post…I will always remember this phrase from this day forward…”the next right thing.”  ~Becky

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Becky. You situation is exactly the kind that this advice applies to.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Becky,
      I am sure he is glad to have a mother like you.

      Jim

  • http://www.thegiftofmondays.com/ colleen laquay urbaniuk

    it’s funny how the simple things are the things we most often overlook. “just do the next right thing.” really?? simple, yet amazing advice. thanks for sharing.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Simple, and amazing at the same time.  It’s when we’re in the midst of those tough times, when everything seems to be piling up around us, that we forget even the simplest things–“just do the next right thing.”

  • Chris Oglesby

    it is amazing to me at how complicated I can make things in my mind.  Thanks for pulling back the layers.  I will keep this in mind as I move the ball forward…

  • http://metalmotivation.com C. J. – The Metal Motivator

    The good news is that it sounds like it’s all a problem of the mind, and at least that’s fixable! Great tips, Michael, to help “calm and quiet” the soul in order to stay in the game.

  • Edwina Cowgill

    Great post! I have a friend who has tweaked that statement  a little. He says, “Do the next best thing.” But I think we have to be careful to ensure that the “best” thing is also the “right” thing.
    I am a “rolling” to do list and I always go back to my list to keep me on track.

  • Anonymous

    Michael, awesome gems of wisdom – as usual. Thank you.

    I’ve noticed that different people do different things in response to overwhelm, depending on how they habitually think.. some get into action, some take time to reflect/assess and evaluate, some look to talk it out in an interactive way, and some ask for help and support.

    I think the important thing is to move – towards a solution, by any of the above means. To sit in a state of overwhelm without making some form of progress is what creates the problem.Liked this post a lot – as it relates to a common and real world problem, with a practical wisdom based way to deal with it.

    Thanks again,
    Paul.

  • Sherri

    This is a perfect post for me today. I just finished a morning devotional about trusting in, delighting in, committing to, and waiting for the Lord. In following what I have believed to be God’s leadership for ministry I have allowed the “things of the ministry” to come before God. Always a mistake! This morning, I did “the next right thing” – I started my day with the Lord instead of checking my blog and reading emails. It feels good to be back on track again, and it’s amazing how that one little decision directs your path from that point on. I am also learning to take one step at at time and trusting God to show me the next step after that. I don’t have to know the end of the story – God does. He knows what I need to do next and knows that I need the practice of trusting and walking in faith. This is a great reminder for me – such simple concepts with such profound results! Thank you. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is always the best place to start—for me, too!

  • Lynn

    thank you – this is the kick that I need.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      “Man can alter his life by altering his thinking.” – William James

  • Chuck Stecker

    Well said. Leaders take action when others are wondering what to do. Most important issue is to do something. A mentor once told me “it is easier to guide a rolling stone than to dig one out of a hole.”

  • Max Anders

    Mike, good post as usual.  A couple good and related quotes.  Lincoln said, “Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.”  And another, for which I don’t have the reference, but I rely on it regularly, is, “Our job is not to figure out the how.  The how will show up out of a
    commitment and belief in the what.”  Best wishes… Max

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Two excellent quotes, Max. Thanks for sharing them.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      You have to make planning a habit. I set aside an hour on Sunday nights, I believe Michael has advised us to do the same, to plan my week. In order for me to make sure that the week goes according to plan, I have to have a plan  to start with. Everyone is different, but you will also feel much more focused when you have identified what you want to accomplish for the week.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this post this morning Michael. I am really trying to explain and help my Supervisors at work with time/life management and this will help. I have already talked to them some about gtd, but this will further help me to help them.

  • Suzanne

    Unfortunately, what I tend to do is what happened just last night … lose a lot of sleep doing senseless worrying. Thanks for the reminder to just make decisions, one at a time, as best as I can. I too tend to think through all the ‘what ifs?’ and get myself all stressed out! In the light of the morning things are looking more positive. Thanks!

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Your story reminds me of a situation I was in a couple of years ago. I was the person responsible for maintaining a new state wide student data program called CALPADS for our school district. They had very unrealistic deadlines for their program and their software did not work properly. The state would send e-mails each week to me (and the superintendent) reminding us of the impending doom, if we didn’t certify our data on time.

    I felt alone and I could only focus on the outcome. I knew one very important thing… I wasn’t even close to certifying. I was almost frozen on inaction. The tasks were so overwhelming, I truly didn’t know what to do.

    Thankfully, we had an email list-serve where we could talk with other district reps who were in the same program. It soon became apparent that no one was close to certifying. I talked with others and we came to the conclusion that the state really had a problem with their program. After lots of frustration, the Governor actually got involved. He shut the program down for two months, had the contractors (IBM) rework their software, and they bumped the deadline back multiple times.

    We finally certified, as did most other districts, 9 months after the original deadline.

    I learned 3 things…
    1. Don’t go it alone. Get help or counsel from others.
    2. Focus on milestones and get them finished. This will give you a sense of accomplishment
    3. Use focused time (48 minutes) to get things done.

    I was never so glad to see the word certified in my life. Unfortunately the next year’s data collection started the next week.

    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

      As always, John, you share an excellent example. I can agree this scenario is all-too-familiar in the world of Information Technology management. One other point your story highlights for me is the importance of experience. Not just avoiding the lone ranger story, but ensuring your Tonto(s) is familiar with or, even better, has already surmounted the challenge you are tackling.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      John,

      again you give great advice!

      Jim

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      John, I like those three things you took away from your experience.  Sometimes, we only focus on the end goal, and don’t place milestones along the way to achieve.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great story, John, and great application.

  • Tracy Hoots Hoexter

    Thank you for sharing some of your vulnerabilities… it’s encouraging to know that even people like you have struggled with these type things. Great advice as always. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Michael:  You have proven that less is more.  This post is outstanding.  So concise.  I also agree with Benjamin input, his #5 should be our #1

    Thank you

    Walter

  • http://kellylevatino.com/ Kelly Levatino

    I have a blog post by the same name – http://wp.me/pdTSX-2Q. 

    For a minute I thought, “What?! Michael Hyatt 1) read my  blog, 2) re-posted for all his readers because he thought so highly of it?!” 

    Funny :)

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      Just read your post mentioned above. Really liked it. Worth the time to read. Great principles in there. Thanks for sharing, Kelly.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That just proves the pint that there is nothing new under the sun! Thanks.

  • Memorylane00

    went to bed felling “stuck”…woke up to pray and read this post and have clarity. THANK YOU!

    • Memorylane00

      “feeling stuck”

  • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael

    Well said. One more thing that we teach employees is that if you spend more than 5 minutes trying to figure out how to do something, ASK! We would rather you ask more questions than less. It is not a sign a failure, it’s how you learn.

  • Allen Neuwirth

    Mike, I think that you are right in your thinking. As your senior colleague offered simple, yet profound advise in suggesting that you do the next right thing, my slogan is “God calls us to be faithful not successful.” 

  • Maggie Bruehl

    Great words for me today as I felt stalled! After looking through the comments, I wasn’t the only one!

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

    Encouraging post! Fear of fear = Anxiety. Fear can motivate, anxiety brings us down. (I think this is a Seth Godin idea, Linchpin.)

  • Molly

    “Many a questioning, many a fear,
    Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
    Moment my moment, let down from Heaven,
    Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
    Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
    Trust them with Jesus, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.’
    Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
    Do it reliantly, casting all care;
    Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand
    Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
    Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
    Leave all resultings, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.'”
                                                                      –author
    unknown

    • Mdsims

       I googled a line and found this:

      Elisabeth Elliot is the one who introduced me to the “Do The Next Thing” philosophy. She said her mother taught her this poem. I understand she is now suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, but I, for one, am so thankful that her books and the inspiration they provide remain. She quotes the poem in one of her books…here it is:
      A poem quoted by Elisabeth Elliot
      Do The Next Thing
      “At an old English parsonage down by the sea,there came in the twilight a message to me.Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraventhat, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.And all through the hours the quiet words ring,like a low inspiration, ‘Do the next thing.’
      Many a questioning, many a fear,many a doubt hath its quieting here.Moment by moment, let down from heaven,time, opportunity, guidance are given.Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.
      Do it immediately, do it with prayer,do it reliantly, casting all care.Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,who placed it before thee with earnest command.Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,leave all resultings, do the next thing.
      Looking to Jesus, ever serener,working or suffering be thy demeanor,in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.Do the next thing.”

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        Thanks for that great poem.

      • Ruth

        Thank you Michael and Ben for sharing that prayer is the #1 thing to do when we are at a loss of what to do next. Mdsims, the poem you shared illustrates so aptly the confidence we can have in Christ because of who He is. Thank you so much all of you. 

        I had been feeling rather helpless at what tomorrow might bring and googled “I don’t know what to do”… I was not expecting much from the hits, but I was greatly surprised at what I was reading moments ago. Thank you so much all of you for the comments you made. You have touched my life.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Thank you for sharing Ben.

      Jim

  • Anonymous

    James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      Love this verse. What a promise!

  • Mauricio Antunes

    I just needed this to start a new day, and all the coming days.
    But I’m sure I’ll need to come back to this post many times to remind me about this truth.
    Thanks Michael.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniesparks Daniel Sparks

    You have no idea how much I needed this today! But then again, your posts are typically timely!

  • Dennis Disney

    Great post as usual. It dove tails perfectly with Andy Andrews’ book, “The Summit.” Thanks, Mike, for a good kick in the hind parts this morning.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Dennis. I loved the Summit. The message of the book really is close to this.

  • http://amylynnandrews.com Amy Lynn Andrews

    Yes. All excellent points. Another thing I get hung up on is replaying what happened in the past—whether good or bad. It’s like I’m running a race turned around.

  • Anonymous

    Focus on a Few
    When I feel overwhelmed, I get out a 3 x 5 notecard and write down 3-4 things to focus on then I try avoid looking back at my stack of papers or Moleskine To-Do-List pages.  It really helps to get my forward momentum back.

    However, I must admit that feeling overwhelmed at times does lead toward the inaction of paralysis and analysis.  Through discipline and effort, I have worked through this, though imperfectly.

    Talk it out
    Just verbally processing it with my assistant or a co-worker often gives me more clarity than before…

    Thanks for the post…great reminder and encouragement

    See you tomorrow in San Antonio

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for attending today, Greg. It was good to meet you. Be blessed!

  • http://www.CFinancialFreedom.com Dr. Jason Cabler

    I love this advice!  Doing the next right thing is something I’ve had to figure out on my own.  I’ve always struggled with wanting to know the outcome before I have even really started, and then I would get discouraged.  

    I finally figured out that the outcome will eventually come one way or another, I just have to focus on today if I want to ensure the outcome will be the best it can be later.

  • Pingback: When You Don’t Know What to Do – Do The Next Right Thing « e-Royal

  • David C Alves

    Mike, Every morning when I wake up, I grab my Kindle and a cup of coffee and read the latest posts from various writers I follow. Yours is usually the first one I read. Many times (so many that I decided to comment about it) what you have to say is something the Lord is either showing me, speaking to me about, or has just spoken to me about. Your posts are often “confirmation.” Today’s was no exception. 

    We’re trying to partner two churches for future mission and outreach. We’re sometimes slowed by our inability to see what this is supposed to look like (since we’re two different denominations). We project and wonder how to move ahead when we hit what seems to be an obstacle. I sent the other pastor a link to this post. I think you’ve given us the key that we could not verbalize. Yet it’s what has kept us walking the path together to do something that few have tried–unite interdenominational outreach. THANK YOU!! for listening to that initial leading to share openly and transparently a problem you overcame. With my own voice, I’m following your lead. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, David. What an encouraging comment!

      • Professional22_yash

        Hey Guys .. You all are my seniors .. all of y’all and  i’ve read few comments , it’s really great the way you all are discussing and in a way encouraging so many people , now i would be an amateur here .. i need help frm you guys .. i am 23 M and i finished my 12tth in 2008 when i ws 18 and then went through financial issues in my life and my whole family sufferred and i had to sit home for like 2 years and do nothing , but i somehow passed that time and then after 2 years i shifted to another country and there life had changed a lot and i wanted to study in a good college but again due to financial issues and other different problems i could not pursue wht i wanted to do and so got enrolled into something which i am least interested in and just for the sake i study throughout the year and go and give my exam – and it’s a correspondence course and so i have to sit in my house and study , there’s no such college or anything like that where i have to go and study …. so therefore throughout the year my time passes and basically i do nothing , i am confused , my life has changed , i have no aim , i have become lazy now , dunno wht to do in life ahead and today i just sit idle and really dunno wht to do cz most of it requires money .. so therefore if you seniors can .. then please help !

        • Sf

          pray for direction and calmly think about what do you want to do and how to do it, the answer will come. For example:
          – you could get an education loan and go to college to study what you want
          – you can also work part-time while studying
          – you can find a vocation in your preferred field i.e. instead of college, go to a vocational training institute which will equip you with skills for a job right off. for e.g. in computers that could be things like animation, web designing. 

          make sure you go to a good college/institute that has a good reputation and that employers trust. otherwise the money will be wasted. check their employment stats before enrolling. 

          in short – figure out what to do in the field at your enjoy that will also help you make money through a job or business, then get the money and do it. 

          Don’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Expect frustration as you figure out the way. Expect this will take perseverance and courage. But know that fruit always comes, just don’t think about it, it will come when it has to and then things will be much easier. It is a difficult way but not as difficult as sitting forever wondering what to do and doing nothing. Good Luck on your way. 

  • http://thethriftymama.com Crystal Collins

    Thanks Michael!  This is just what I needed to read today.  You must be reading my mail. :)

  • Joe Lalonde

    It’s all about taking steps. Doing the next thing right will help you see that you can then do the next thing right and it starts a snowball. I also like point number 3. So often we don’t do anything when doing something at least gives us momentum.

  • http://www.corykent.com/blog Cory Kent

    Our minds are our greatest tool… and greatest limitation. One of the great lessons I continue to learn and re-learn is in realizing how little control we have. Our lives are not about amassing control, but co-operating with God’s plan on the earth. GREAT POST. Thanks Michael!

  • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

    I’ve found focusing on the next action to be clarifying as well.  For me, worrying about the whole picture leads to paralysis.  If I can just do the next thing, I can keep the projects moving forward.

    Thank you for the post!

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      I agree, I have found this helpful also.

      Jim

  • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

    Realize that it’s not an “either/or” proposition, but a “both/and.”  Pray and do.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Great point Mark! God has commanded us to pray, but he also commanded us to action.

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Thanks for the reminder. If I could suggest one thing about doing something right away, try asking this question: Suppose I’ve become successful at outcome X, and I’m looking back to today, what did I see myself doing right away (small, concrete steps), and how was that be useful to others involved in the work?  

  • Jack Lynady

    Do the next right thing. I really like that Michael. Great proverb.

  • heavenlygurl

    Michael,  your blog always offers just enough challenge w/o discouraging.  Sometimes I read what editors or agents write and I want to throw my computer in the trash.  It’s a fine line to toe what with us writers wearing our feelings on our shoulders.  LOL! 

    I appreciate the exceptional content you offer here, right in the presence of the Lord! 

  • Lori Boruff, Hope101.net

    When I feel overwhelmed and uncertain, I dance. I dance around the things too big and too hard until I’m exhausted from avoiding them. I’ve been dancing around  writing a business plan for my new radio show, Hope101.net. I have many excuses for not getting it done but the truth is I don’t want to fail. I like what you said…doing something is better than nothing! I’m believing today as I take a step forward in doing the ‘next right thing,’ I’ll experience clarity and direction as I move along. Then I’ll be dancing a Happy Dance!

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Harriet Beecher Stowe Encouraging Words:

      “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. ”
      ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

      jim

  • http://ShannanParker.wordpress.com Shannan Parker

    When I am uncertain about my next step I pray and seek God.  I try to tune my ears to hear Him.  I hear Him through His written word and through the counsel of many – such as your writing today.  Thank You!  I will not worry about tomorrow but I will take a step in doing right today.

  • http://www.jonnywhitman.com Jonathan Whitman

    Thanks Michael!  I was just wondering what to do with my youth group.  Now I know!

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      “Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.”
      ~ Aldous Huxley

      jim

  • http://www.facebook.com/carynsullivanscribe Caryn Sullivan

    I have been accused of “overthinking things” on more than one occasion….I’m not great at thinking on my feet; I’m better at thinking in the shower or on my bike.  But once I have worked things through in my mind and take that first action step, I feel empowered.  One step leads to another, then another.  Each step breeds confidence, fueling the next one.

  • Ronnie

    Awesome post! Thanks!

  • Lori

    I believe the most important thing to remember about myself is that, I know what I can handle
    in a given situation, and what I can’t. If I focus on the truth about me, then whatever situation arises, I at least, have a premise on what to base the decisions that have to be made. Prior to all of this……I pray for guidance!

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    I use 4:8 Thinking according to the 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry. Life changing book. 

  • Robb Massey

    I enjoyed this simple and profound advice. Another similar piece of advice I read this year was to write the things that must be done (in order of importance) and then to start with the first thing and stick with it until it’s done. If it takes all day and I don’t get to the others then I’ve still completed the most important task. I doesn’t work everyday, but on the days I’m overwhelmed this is a great prioritizer.

    Robb Massey
    Winnipeg Manitoba

  • David

    Mike,

    Thanks for this. Heard it before, of course, but that solves nothing. Perhaps this phrase “Do The Next Right Thing” should make on my planner/mirror whereever. I often delude myself to think I’m only a man of action…when really, I over-think most things! Thanks again…well said brother.

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    This seems to be closely inline with my life. Seems like we’re our worst critic. I’ve had to retrain my brain to go from worrying to being concerned. It’s a subtle shift and it’s also connected with one of your previous post http://michaelhyatt.com/what-story-are-you-telling-yourself.html

    Worrying was something I harbored all my focus and emotions on which I have NO control over. It was the what-if of life. Concern is the “…if I _______, then I ________.” There’s more control and it focus on the solution of a possible situation. If I can’t put the situation in this frame, then I know I’m worrying. Also, noticed that worrying had a 99% never outcome.

    So with the realization of freeing mindspace and saving valuable time, it was a little easier (emphasis on little) to convince myself to focus on what I may have control over and try and stop thinking about the things that I didn’t.

    It’s a little semantic and mind-gamey, but we do what we have to, to make life more productive and meaningful. It’s all about the story and conversation.

  • Anonymous

    As the headmaster of a growing classical school, my tasks range far and wide–from visioning and vision-casting, to teaching, to mentoring students and teachers, to class observations/evaluations, to writing, to student discipline, to building maintenance–and the list goes ever on and on. I get tired just thinking about it! But armed with this same advice, I’ve been able to do better than tread water.

    I use Things to make lists, and choosing the next right thing involves being aware of my context (place, time available, etc.). And when all else fails, I pick something small without regard for priority, just to get the momentum ball rolling. It works nearly every time.

    Thanks, Michael, for this post. I’ve been looking forward to reading it since you mentioned it in the comments a few months ago.

  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

    List out the things that you know need to be done.  Try to prioritize this list.  Review the list with someone who can help you bring order to the list.  What is urgent and important?  These things should be handled first.  What is not important and is not urgent?  These things should be put at the bottom of the list or removed all together.  I have found that creating this type of list helps tremendously to ease the feelings of anxiety that come from not knowing where to start.

  • http://twitter.com/r_lewis Ricky Lewis

    “Something is better than nothing” has gotten me through the last 10 years. Once I finally learned this I experienced relief and got a lot more done. Thanks, Michael.

  • dpyle

    Thanks for the great reminder that God gives us a lamp for our feet, not an HD helicopter search light to discern the end. :)

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    “Just do the next right thing.” That is awesome advice!!
    We can’t change the past, but we have the power to influence the next thing.

    When I feel overwhelmed I try to take a deep breath and/or go for a walk to clear my head and gain perspective. Then I dive in guns a blazing.

  • Jody Day

    I came across this concept as a young, homeschooling mom with six children, three in diapers.  We also had a thriving ministry, I taught piano lessons, and I wanted to write in my “spare” time.  I complained to my mentor one day and she said “You only have to do one thing, the next right thing, and sometimes that means REST.”  As you said, very simple, and very effective.  Everyone is all grown up now and when they come to me overwhelmed, I give them the same advice.  Thanks for the reminder:)  People often asked me, “How do you do it all?”  I always answered, “One prayer at a time.”

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      “When things go wrong as they sometimes will,When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,When the funds are low and the debts are highAnd you want to smile, but you have to sigh,When care is pressing you down a bit,Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.Life is queer with its twists and turns,As every one of us sometimes learns,And many a failure turns aboutWhen he might have won had he stuck it out;Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–You may succeed with another blow,Success is failure turned inside out–The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,And you never can tell how close you are,It may be near when it seems so far;So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”
      ~ Unknown

  • http://chambernaut.blogspot.com David

    This is definitely some great advice. When it came to writing, some time back, I would get all upset and depressed because I felt that my aspirations were too big, and there was just too much work and all I could see was the end of the road…where I would be successful and making money. That became a disheartening image for me. It felt like it’d never get done. I’ve learned to not focus on that outcome, much like you said. I don’t let things get me down. Instead, I try to think about what I’m doing NOW to make myself successful – and it’s working out great. If only I had read this blog post back then. Really great post.

  • Reba J. Hoffman

    Michael, I read all your blog posts and find them meaningful and informative. That being said, today’s post was especially helpful. Thank you for all you do to enrich my life.

  • Les

    Corey Booker at the Willow Summit echoed your blog: when asking the advice (about how to proceed)  of a wise inner city woman, she said, “Just do sumpin’ “. Paralysis is the great peril of leaders in uncertain times!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I heard Mayor Booker tell that story, too. He us a fantastic storyteller. I had forgotten that line. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    This is very helpful.  I’m in the process of leading some necessary change in our church.  Sometimes in the cacophony of voices it is hard to stay focused.

  • Terry

    Michael,

    These are great steps for all of us, as we all get into the over-thinking, paralysis-by-analysis mode at some points in our careers and lives. 

    Thanks.

    Terry

  • GDL

    Mike, first of all thank you. Your blog is like fresh water in a desert.

    My wife and I experienced our fifth miscarriage and I have a boss/pastor  who said, “Sorry.” Then gave me a ‘mini-dressdown’ on some office politics the next day. I think he has issues I’m unaware of that’s caused that meeting. 

    The result? With emotions running high in me with the loss of our fifth child and prospect of never having children I started to freeze at work and just worry about the future of life as a whole. 

    Your perspective of not worrying about the outcome is a nugget of wisdom that is so true – we expend so much energy on things we cannot control.  I got into the habit of listing my workflow and it gives me the momentum through each hour and helps me maintain my focus. 

    Doing the ‘next’ thing has kept me sane.

    Please keep it up!! I look forward to it every week.

  • http://profiles.google.com/matthew.la.snyder Matthew Snyder

    The first thing I always do: pray. I find that it always brings me clarity, deeper insight, and greater wisdom. It also stirs the peace residing in the marrow of my bones…

    I also act. It’s one thing to pray but it’s important to respond to what I hear the Lord whisper (or SHOUT) during prayer. Passive Christianity is lame Christianity.

  • Heidismessner

    My mother used to say, “When you don’t know what else to do, worship”. As I focus my attention on the problems I am overwhelmed yet if I choose to put my attention on Jesus I gain peace and perspective!

  • Elizabeth Stalcup

    I quiet myself and connect with God by thinking of the last time I felt a strong connection with him.

  • http://twitter.com/africanrains Michelle Nicholson

    Wow.  Michael, this is great advice.  Thanks for sharing.  I think part of my failure in my current position is because of that overwhelmed feeling and letting it get me stuck.  This is also great advice when you are looking for work.  It’s easy to panic but when you focus on the next thing whether that’s updating your resume or submitting the next one, it get’s you moving toward your ultimate outcome.  Thanks.

  • http://OneStepForwardToday.com Bryan Patrick

    “Question: What do you do when you feel overwhelmed and uncertain?”

    Answer: I open up my email, read the new post from Mike Hyatt, and move forward! Seriously, this came at the right time for me today. Thanks for another great encouragement Mike!

    ~ BP

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Ha! Awesome. I love this kind of timing.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Bryan, I can’t tell you how many times this has been true for me, too.  I’ve been following Michael’s blog for less than a year, and it has given me just the right message again and again.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    This is great wisdom. It’s easy for us to get into analysis paralysis and to be so worried about what we’re doing 50 steps down the line.
    It’s interesting too to combine this with the idea of setting a life plan as you’ve written about. It really is possible to have a major goal but yet not know all the steps that it will take to get there. Just take step one and step two and step three – and keep your eyes open on finding the path towards the goal.

  • Ramseyis

    I just feel panicked and physically sick…..then after a while i start to build in the rational thought process. These comments help Mike. thanks

  • http://www.wol.ca/staff/lyons Charlie Lyons

    This is great advice, Michael. I think this is so true, to just keep slogging through whatever is before you. It sounds like I am in the midst of a similar situation that you described about earlier on in your career and I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I can only do what I can only do. Simplistic like “do the next right thing” but this has helped me. Just keep on moving and doing something rather than nothing.

    Again, thanks.

  • Momarian

    Get a change of scenery, even if for a moment.  I fight this worry inaction and my oldest does too. I have often told him to do something, even if it is wrong because nothing is a decision. He likes your blog, I am going to make sure he reads today. Thank you.

  • Erica

    Just recently, I started reading the Bible.  I am 34 years old and was always raised Catholic.  I go to Church every Sunday yet I’ve not felt so clear as I have as of recent since I started reading the Bible.  I read a chapter a night and I write a reflection about what I read in a journal that I started.  It seems to help clear away all my problems at the moment, even if I know tomorrow my worries will still be there.

  • http://twitter.com/obihaive Joseph Sanchez

    Excellent post. My family is going through some career challenges/changes and I too have been worrying and dreading worst-case-scenarios. This really helped me out. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    Forgetting about the ultimate outcome is a perspective and a discipline. It’s easy to see the choppy waters out there in the middle of the ocean and get totally frozen in fear and confusion. I learned the lesson of forgetting about the ultimate outcome when I went hiking many years ago. Being a city girl, I looked up at the mountain and was almost paralyzed in fear. When I looked only at the next step ahead of me, I was able to move forward.

    Michael, you also sought the wisdom of the wise. Perhaps that’s your #2! :)

  • Gary

    So very simple, yet so very empowering.  Great article, Mr. Hyatt, thank you for sharing this with us!

  • Loree Huebner

    I agree with the “do something now” part.

    I always feel better if I sit down and tackle a small portion of the big picture in front of me. It doesn’ t seem so big afterwards.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing, it’s nice to know other people have the similar experiences/feelings.  Good advice! 

  • Bonnie

    I usually make a list of the top ten things that probably need to be done.  Then I do three things in each area and repeat the cycle.  This applies to housework and writing and anything else on the agenda.  At the end of the day the most important things get done and I feel like I have accomplished something, yet I am no longer overwhelmed.

  • http://twitter.com/CharlesSpecht GodAdopts.com

    Wow, Michael, this post is so timely.  Exactly what I needed to hear.  Thank you!

  • http://findingforwardmotion.com Tony Elam

    I have learned that the view looks different when you take a few steps, therefore the choices are different.  Something almost always pop’s up better than I thought, or I realized that I didn’t understand something and it becomes clearer.  Even if it turns out bad, I am somehow relieved that I am not longer worrying about it. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great way to look at it. Thanks.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_574AM2GCQNTBQYKGUDGTMLVASY Steve

    I can’t tell you how much my wife & I needed to read this today. We have been experiencing what I can only describe as an extreme wilderness scenario where nothing seems to be producing fruit. This morning I arose a couple hours earlier than usual and decided to take action. So I picked up a customer folder and started writing thank you e-mails. I’m feeling better, not unstuck, but I know that I am creating ‘ripples’ in the universe, and am praying that God will bring the increase. Thank you for your article “What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do”.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Steve. You might want to read Andy Andrews books, too. I think you would find them particularly encouraging, especially The Noticer.

  • FemmeFuel

    I have been attending Alcoholics Anonymous with a dear friend of mine who is learning everyday to embrace her sobriety. Each meeting, everyone is reminded to do “the next right thing”. It is when people feel overwhelmed with the weight put on their shoulders, that they feel tempted to reach for that drink. Doing “the next right thing” helps to break down this overburdened feeling, one step at a time.  

    Thanks, Michael, for this take-away which we ALL can use in facing our day-to-day challenges.

    –JM
    http://femmefuel.com/

  • http://twitter.com/swdenton Stephen Denton

    John Piper on this one: http://twitter.com/#!/JohnPiper/status/57216344394973184

  • http://lifeallin.net Jacob Musselman

    I struggle to forget about the ultimate outcome, but sometimes that’s exactly what I need to do. I tend to make a list of all the things I think I need to do in order to have some “control,” but it usually just solidifies the unknown on paper.

    Instead of getting lost and perplexed by the ultimate, I will do the next right thing.

  • Shari

    Michael, I’d love to hear you talk more about this and how you balance it with your great planning methods and tools. I often feel confused regarding how specific to be in goal setting versus knowing that I can’t possibly know the outcome (and yes, that changing course is necessary along the way as well). I guess I struggle with how much focus is too much, if that makes sense, or, on the other hand, how much moving forward one step at a time might lack a certain focus. Let me know when you give this talk and I’ll be there! :-)

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  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    That was excellent, simple advice! I tend to be an actor and my husband is an evaluator, I find we balance each other nicely. In a time of transition vocationally this is really timely advice for us. It’s also encouraging as I take one step at a time as a writer.

    Have you ever had a time when you followed this advice and acted and it backfired on you? What was your response to that situation?

  • http://www.justcris.com Cris Ferreira

    I’ve been so overwhelmed lately, I realized I’ve never thought of changing the focus like you said.
    I also have to deal of lots of simultaneous problems/challenges, so I would add, before focusing on the next right action (and praying), I have to prioritize. Focus on what I need to do first and take the next action. When that is done, go on to the next thing, and so on.
    Great advice!

  • http://frankdickinson.me/ Frank Dickinson

    “Besides, before I ever get to the final destination, many of the variables will change.”
    This is the reality of control and one of the main reasons controlling the outcome of anything is an illusion.

    Great stuff Michael!

  • Lisa V.

    Too often I’ve frozen up when feeling overwhelmed and uncertain.  But when I can just force myself to do as you suggest and just do something I will undoubtedly always move to a better place.  I also remind myself to not take things so seriously, look at the bigger picture in life. And I’m still working on being better at making short to-do lists targeted towards goals, lists are essential and yet still I struggle with it.

  • http://www.adonislenzy.com Adonis Lenzy

    Michael,

    Great read as always.  Of course prayer and seeking God is always on the top of my list. I also turn to my Wife for advice and direction.  I value her opinion and trust her with my life.  Once we find agreement in a direction then we walk towards it together with a confidence that empowers us to do the next right thing.

  • harleyandmakara voogd

    A timely message. Thank you.

  • http://www.christianrayflores.com Christian Ray

    That is excellent advice and the truth that we have even less control over the outcome than we think is refreshing. We really don’t have that much control to begin with. 

  • http://www.christianrayflores.com Christian Ray

    And yes, first thing when overwhelmed is to pray until the peace is restored and perspective is gained. With fresh perspective and a clear heart it is time for action. 

  • http://www.christianrayflores.com Christian Ray

    Sorry about the unrelated question Mike. What is this wonderful plugin/platform you use for your email subscription? 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I use MailChimp, but all the linkage is custom code.

      • http://www.christianrayflores.com Christian Ray

        Thank you Mike. I’ll look for it. I just think it looks great, way better than feedburner. 

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    Michael, I think #3 is so important.  Many people (myself included, sometimes) are paralyzed by the huge mountain of things to be done, so they don’t do anything.

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    Michael, I want to thank you for a suggestion you made in another comment string (I can’t find it now), that relates to this post.  Part of doing the “next right thing” for me is setting goals to get the little right things done every day–devotions, exercising, reading a chapter in a book every day, etc.

    You suggested a website called http://www.joesgoals.com, as a dashboard to keep track of these things.  I signed up, and have been using it for a couple of days, and I’m showing some progress in getting the little right things done.

    Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I found an even better one, Robert. It is called irunurun.com. t was created by Travis Dommert, who also reads my blog. His site has a very nice interface and a little different approach that Joe’s Goals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tina-Shepherd-Gist/1400228004 Tina Shepherd Gist

    Thanks – the timing of this is perfect! I usually just keep going, but there are times you really need to stop think about it and I really like what you said – determine the next RIGHT action. 

  • Roweroo

    “Do the right thing”: Tatooing this on my brain–some of the best advice I’ve had all week. Coming from another fellow sufferer of over-cogitation, this encourages me and also gives me a direction in which to head. Thank you.

  • http://www.dwaynes--world.blogspot.com Dwayne Morris

    Take a “time-out” from everything and decompress with a run or crashing on the couch.

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  • Rsr777

    I have learned that…not knowing what to do can actually be a GOOD place to be in…I especially remember a time in my life when I had no answers and was AT THE END OF MYSELF…it was when I reached that place…that God stepped in …and did what He does best…WORKED IT OUT…love the fact that HE sees the BIG PICTURE!!!

  • kmckee

    Perfect.  Just what I needed to get some clarity around the chaos in my life-the right message at the right time.  

    As always, love your blog, Michael!

  • http://www.onlinesuccessmap.com JaniceGentlesJones

    Very timely.  I’ve been stuck in what I need to do next in my business and as a result have done nothing. Thank you for this advice Michael.  I look forward to meeting you at the Dynamic Communicators Workshop in October.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Awesome. Be sure to introduce yourself to me. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MelissaMashburnMelsWorld Melissa Scarbrough Mashburn

    Perfect timing…thanks for sharing Michael!

  • Carol

    Usually i go into panic mode and do nothing when i don’t know what to do next. That is very frustrating and debilitating. Thanks for this blog. Simple yet extremely illuminating. “The next best thing” is a step i can cope with.

  • Moira Gardener

    Very awesome to read all the wonderful comments.

    What do I do when overwhelmed?  Me, I need to take a step back by cleaning. It can be as simple as a desk drawer, a closet, or the whole house. As I clean it seems to purge my brain and create conversation with God in prayer. Then I breathe deeply with a clearer focus and my priorities back in tact; then head back in.  The new piece, thanks to Micheal is to head back into doing “… the next right thing.”

    Thank-you.

  • http://thingsithinkaboutwhenihavetimetothink.blogspot.com/ FennyPenny

    Michael, this article was so timely for me.

    I was reading it from a completely different viewpoint, as a mum who is at a crossroads with my pre-teen duaghter.  There was a night last week, when everything peaked, and I felt at a complete loss as to what to do.

    The therapeutic thing for me to do is to write as I think it through (I blog), and I find it becomes a bit of a ‘conversation’ with God… I start off ranting and confused, but through the processing of it,  God ‘walks’ me through it.  Just after posting my blog, http://bit.ly/qcWuav , I came across your latest post.

    Yes, I don’t have all the answers, but, as you say, I don’t need to dwell on the final outcome. I just need to put one foot in front of the other,  do the very next thing,  and trust God that He will give me that one step at a time.

    Thank you – your articales always inspire me!

  • http://twitter.com/Kelly_AJohnson Kelly A. Johnson

    Excellent advice for anyone facing any decision.  Looking forward to reading more of your blogs!

    Thank you,
    Kelly

  • mujahid kamal

    Do the next right thing , this is what I read. But how do we know what is right ? based on the knowledge we have or via other sources ???????

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, based on your knowledge of the situation and experience. We may not be able to make a bigger decision, but we usually know the next right one.

  • Mitchell Maloney

    This was so awesome.  Many times I’ve been in situations where I felt so out of control that I froze and waited for the worse to happen.  I will try these concepts in the future.

  • http://twitter.com/lauriekr Laurie Reynolds

    I go and make a cuppa and talk to my partner, it never seems quite so daunting when i come back a few minutes later.

  • http://twitter.com/lauriekr Laurie Reynolds

    i go an make a cuppa and talk to my best friend, it never seems so daunting when i return

  • Julianna Wu

    Sometimes, my desire of wanting to know the ultimate outcome is so great, the fear of failure is so strong, that I freeze up like a dead fish in the freezer… hoping someone would open the freezer and get me out of this mode of inaction! But in reality, it’s all in the mind. Only I can bring myself out of inaction. 

    Thanks for the article Mike, in moments of not knowing what to do, I’ll return to it from time to time to remind myself of – just do the next right thing.

  • http://themasculinesoul.blogspot.com/ Phil

    Just browsing your blog and ran across this post. I work with lots of young men in ministry that can use this advice. So many get caught in the cross hairs and don’t know what to do.
    Thanks, I will be sharing it lots!

  • Dingheng0932

    Thank you to share! Well-written article!
    http://www.christianlouboutin-cheapest.org/

  • http://www.writemoneyinc.com Dtwrites

    “Just do the next right thing.”  Really liked this point noted in your article.  Sometimes that’s as far ahead as we can see and there are times when even that might not feel so “right”.  During times of uncertainty we gotta trust that there’s something within us that still knows the way (after all, it’s got us this far)!  Enjoyed the article.

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  • http://www.natejones.me Nate Jones

    This post has really been ringing true to me lately.  Thanks for the great advice.  I liked it so much that I actually wrote a little bit about it here:  http://natejones.me/2011/09/celebrating-baby-steps

  • Shaggy

    “i don’t know what to do”

    Say it wasn’t you…alriiiiiight

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  • Edileuza Giacomini

    I don’t know what to do, I’m paralyzing, I feel lost. I’m a lawyer but I stopped to work four years ago because family’s care. Now I have time, but I’m not sure what I want to do.

  • http://twitter.com/Judge_Roy Shanti Roy

    I list the next best thing and in most desperate circumstances, pray too. Here I was thinking praying was so rare. But you can’t just pray and expect everything to just fall in place. I look back at my 11 years in a Pentecostal church and the books that I read (specifically about how to pray in detail) around that time to help me. God wants us to take some action too. It’s like my medication; helps with motivation and focus but I’m the one that has take control of what that focus is on.
    I worry too whether my book will be a best seller or if I’ll finish and publish in time for my self-set deadline. I have to just focus on the one chapter, usually for just one week. I have the index list stuck on the wall directly opposite my line of sight and to encourage me I write down the amount of pages I’ve written for each chapter so I can know how much I’ve written overall. 

    In most desperate circumstances, after prayer, I will clear my whole schedule so I will literally have nothing to do but write. It does help to be self-employed. 

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  • D065927

    The articles are right . In my lifetime i have found that if you dont have any idea to solve  type problem – something is the only thing to do. If you fail-you have tried. If you acheived very little you have suceeded. NEVER GIVE UP HOPE !

  • Bmacstudios

    Thank you for taking time to write this. You just helped me so you are serving your purpose, in fact many. I am having a lot of worries about my wife who I love so much. We recently had a child and ever since I am hiding all around the house just feeling so overwhelmed of this new responsibility of being responsible for the family. I am not working and I am afraid to get back out there and so I am even more scared. My wife is the best woman I’ve ever known and I truly love her. I want to make them all proud. I want to be fun and keep the house fun and positive. Do you have any advice about this in particular? B.M.

  • DallasTX

    I cry:-( ALOT!

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  • David Taylor

    you must PRAY, PRAY AND PRAY!!!!!!!

  • Dong Hung Low

    get high

  • Dmpattcae

    “Do the right thing.”  I think I heard that before.

  • Tim

    Makes sense but what do you do when no next right thing is apparent. How do you deal with a seemingly insoluable problem?

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Tim,
      is this a work issue? Do you have a colleague that could help you clarify next steps? bounce ideas off of?

  • Gostaphos

    most of the time I’ll try to get my self busy like reading a novel , writing what goes on in my mind in a very confusing form to anyone else than me , getting busy includes doing my duties without creativity which really annoys me , sometimes being a clown is my favorite when am deep overwhelmed or uncertain    

  • Homer

    sometimes, cliched responses have deviated from intent and have done more harm than good. every situation is unique. when you have a job and are overwhelmed is different from not having a job [ and not securing any interview slot{s}], no money and you are losing basic necessities……….

  • Christine

    Say a prayer and know that you’re never alone.

  • Atyr

    lolie lolie lolie

  • Cunt

    jhjdkhjd

  • Scenicmt

    I still have no clue.  I am so lost. 

  • http://twitter.com/Onyeka_Snickers Onyeka Ibe

    Great article I’ve found myself in this situation countless times and I usually regret the decison I make at the end. Though Im a teen I know there are better ways to handle a situation. i write for a parenting site giving adivice to parents from a teens viewpoint and I would love if you could check out my article on a similar toic at http://www.radicalparenting.com/2012/03/17/i-just-dont-know-what-to-do-5-coping-skills-for-teens/. Thanks!

  • @Busy_BOO

    This was such a good read- we often want to know the outcome of decisions and often we cannot determine that. Good read! @Busy_BOO:twitter 

  • jay

    Hi I am in quite a predicament and don’t know what to do. I was recently laid off by a company where I had a great position and was on the rise but due to unforseen circumstances they shut down the project and laid everybody off.

    Now I have been on the job hunt for almost two months and I was offered two jobs. Both have the same great schedule and great pay. One is an entry level position with the potential for longer term employment and the other is an evan higher step up than my previous job but the company isn’t making much money at the moment and therefore the job could last 4 months or long term.

    Im not sure what to do as I am looking to get married and want longer term but I also don’t want to start over again in an entry level position.

    Any help would be great

  • http://www.jesus-and-me.yolasite.com/ Ebeth Marais

    I got to this site today out of pure desperation – I typed in on Google  “what to do when you don’t know what to do”.  I love the statement “just do the next right thing”.  My only problem is now, in this time of my life, today, I don’t even know what is the next right thing.  My husband was retrench, he is trying to get a business up and running but it doesn’t work, we have 2 kids to care for, we have expenses, we pray; we cry before the Lord, we seek His face, wisdom and guidance – but He is so quiet. My question is – What to do when you don’t even know what the next right thing is? Ebeth

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      If you were an outside counselor assigned to advise you, what would you say the next right thing is? I don’t think it has to be “right” in an absolute sense. (People sometimes get hung up on this.) What seems to be the next best thing? Just do that … and trust. Thanks.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Ebeth, we’re glad you stumbled across the blog. I hope you’ve found some encouragement through the words written here.

      You pose a hard question. Some would say to stay in place and do nothing. Wait until you know what the right thing is. And that’s fine for some people. Other people would say go out and do something. If it turns out to not be the right thing, stop doing it and try something else until you find the right thing. I tend to fall into that camp. The choice is up to you though.

  • Luckylucianofish

    we want to buy a hause but don,t have enough

  • http://www.nextwebtech.com/ Next Web Technologies

    Thanks for this blog post its looking good one…

  • Alyssa Summerson

    What if there is trouble with thinking about other things other than life drama and things that make me emotional?

  • Joao

    I am not the type to read this kind of stuff often….but so glad I stumbled onto your site.  I so easily get stuck over-thinking options that I end up just staying stuck.   Thanks for the great advice.  

  • Julieabennett

    Say this as a Mantra: “This too soon shall pass!”

  • The Truth

    What a joke, you people sit around and think the world is like you, your cowards. What about someone with cancer? Should they sit around and forget about the ultimate outcome? Your the sickest kind of human, and if there was a God, he would smite you, but seeing as that hasn’t happened, I suppose we have our answer as to his existence.

  • FuzzayD

    for an author you have alot of spelling mistakes

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Would you care to point them out? I don’t see any. Thanks.

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  • Beckhurst

    I am 54 and seriously thinking of quitting my job and going solo. I should retire by 60 but dont want to wait till then…

  • Your_a_shit_face

    this is fucked

  • Dana

    Thanks Dude.  This really helped.  I’m in Sales and our Production vs Target numbers were just released.  I was last on the list and beginning to paint doomsday scenarios e.g. I’m going to get fired, What am I doing wrong etc.  then I googled ” What to do when you don’t know what to do” and this came.  It gave me the jolt I needed to snap out of my stinking thinking.  My next right thing is “make a list of to-do for tomorrow.”
    Thanks again. 

  • Kanchi Kamalakar

    Forget the past. Pray for yourself that you do next thing right. Only way to overcome is try to do every next thing as right . Follow God’s plan for yourself. Never get bogged down by the present dilemma. There is a will there is a way. 

    • Moodiebewise2

       Like your outlook! Even though it is sometimes hard not to get bogged down with present dilemma, one just have to move on, pray and trust God…even when He is silent…

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  • Sunnysky239

    Michael, I’m reading this blog a year later, just because I need some answers, I don’t know what to do and even when I have tried to do the next right thing, there is always something new coming over me, but I guess I now have to think about what’s really the next right thing to do. Thanks a lot, praying is also happening here and maybe that’s why I typed the right thing to get the right answer…thanks again…it’s good to know that I’m not the first nor the last person to feel like this.

  • Ch_alley

    That is all great, but what is the right thing. My question is,”What is the correct thing to do?” When you feel like you just came out of a blender and the world around you has gone on by…. well I am kinda messed up.
    Maybe the correct thing is anything! Even if it is wrong it will allow you to see the direction you need to go. 

    • Ch_alley

      But before I do anything I should call my Father. He knows it all. Lost and headed in a direction with uncertainty I just call him.

      Jesus, that is his name. That is what we need to do first, call out Father. Pray!

      • Ch_alley

        Might be a little of where some of us may have been thinking. That is where I am, I need to call my Father. 

  • Chopperth

    Hi there. For the last ten years I have been thinking about what to do, and doing the next best thing, meant that I have broadened my anxiety, due to my increase in decisions. At the end of the day, praying wont pay the bills, but I do believe in faith, and I know reality is always there in front of me first! Planning for the future means I am getting older by the minute and by the time I reach my plans, my body will be aged. Money conquers everything. Family, friends, fun , happiness, all only come from money! How else will I eat and survive. All about money. Without currency, u r nothing. U can be happy, but not for long without money. If no jobs are available, there is no source of income. U can not give up, and love a life without giving up, but that is not a lifestyle. If I got paid for that, I would be available to enjoy breathing.

  • Missmelodysalem

    Thanks a lot for your post, I never really found anyone I could relate to, someone that once felt the same way I felt. I’ve been scrambling the internet for advice, the law of attraction etc. But this is the best I found, I feel that clarity now. Just thank you a lot.

  • pteka

    totally

  • Mgt_co

    I read the article, I think it was one of the best things I had ever heard. I fully agreed with it and I think , as I have been in a lot of these situations, doing the next right thing is the best thing  among the options. In any it was well put. I truly liked it.

  • Nikki A.

    I want to work in something that I love, and I have no idea what that is. but I have bills to pay, chores to keep up with and I’m working full time hours. I’m very dedicated to my job and I believe I’m doing a good job and I’m a hard worker but I dont find fulfillment here. I don’t know what to do or where to go to next. Is there anything that could help?

    • Jerrywss

      I’m reading all these 100 comments and so far, yours hits me the best.  Has anybody answered you and given you any ideas?  How old are you?  I am past the working age, but still just as lost as I was at 21 about what I want to do.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        Somehow I missed this comment from Nikki. I would highly recommend Dan Miller’s site, 48.Daysnet. He is an expert at finding your passion and making a living from it.

        • Nikki

          Thank you very much! I will give it an honest try. Enjoy the rest of your day.

      • Nikki

        I’m 27 and I live in NYC. I’m going to be 28 this year. I got a Bachelor’s degree at 22 and I have worked almost my whole life to support my family. I haven’t really gotten any ideas but I was thinking of going to a therapist to discuss this but i dont know if this would work…

  • Gilljane89@yahoo.com

    Thank you,Sometimes life gets in the way of living.I worry so much about how to survive that I never enjoy living.The biggest battles arent aways fought on the battle fields.

  • Blah

    i’m still at school and i’m finding it hard to manage my time.

  • Rejoicejennifermadike

    I will just do the next right thing,without worrying about the outcome.

  • Alice

    I mostly complains about the situation and if I don’t get support in my misery, then I would shut down. During these times God always send something to show me how blessed I am and I address whatever I can in that moment.

  • Dzml4life

    sounds like all of you have bee to 1 too many AA meetings.
    How but this:go for what your passionate about and dont give up
    Take suggestion only from, those who know success.
    Take reasonable risks cause if you dont, there will be no rewards.
    Ask those of  who you know, that may be  more practical than you.
    Be patient, and dont make any drastic-impulsive decisions
    just go a day at a time till’ clarity works itself in.
    Dont act on how your feel, or run from how you feel
    Ease-up and easy does it.
    Ask for help from others
    But the best things to do, when ya dont know what to do are:
    eat, sleep and take care of yaself.
    “The right thing “is, different for everyone but,
    the basics are the same for us all

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  • Oveelang

    Thanks for this.
    I have been sitting in my sofa all day pretending everything is ok, deadlines on my theses and contract are upon me and am just overwhelmed out of desperation I typed out I don’t know what to do. Am blessed to have stumbled on this article, simple, practical and just perfect

  • Nobody

    Prayer doesn’t work for the disillusioned. I would say start and end with Mr. Hyatt’s #1.  If you’re looking for the next “right” action, you’re dividing the world into finite propositions.  Furthermore, #3, just do something can lead you astray.  Let the decisions make themselves, don’t try to do or not-do anything.  Simply be and live in the present.  Prayer is yourself’s (ego) way of trying to determine what should be done.  Reality and the universe goes on in its own way regardless of what you think you need to do (ie, water doesn’t think if it needs to flow, flowers don’t decide its time to bloom).  Food for thought, the iconic sages throughout history were the type of people who had no agenda and no material wealth. If you must, discover the Tao Te Ching.  Even this book of ultimate wisdom is ultimately flawed, but its first chapter says as much.  The only thing a person needs to do is live genuinely. 

  • hassan hayawe

     I ll take some dope that will help

  • http://twitter.com/jwwijers irJW Wijers MSc

    Ask yourself: “What would love do .. .?” 

  • Jaki

    You can do what Proverbs 3:5 says, trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thy own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy path. All you’ve got to do is have faith in God and he will guide you to that path. Keep prayer as your priority and watch God work everything out, and the outcome is gonna be good good.  So my friends TRUST IN THE LORD. God bless you all.

  • Keith Geldart

    And what if your an atheist?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      What does that have to do with this post? Just curious.

  • Dorkassforumsthisis

    sorry but this is idiotic – if someone knows what the ‘next right thing'(to do) is then they are not troubled by the topic in the first place ‘dont know what to do’ – the internet is so full of idiots with these pollyanna solutions, you might as well say ‘look on the bright side’ – ‘take a long walk’ – ‘or how about a bath with candles. NO HELP – AT ALL – AS USUAL.

  • Milky Titbobble

    arsehole god squadder

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  • Dem

    does this include everything in in life?   vague i know but sounds like goood advice. do i neccessarily need to woory about my childrens happiness or just my own? kinda done with responsibikity.as far as im concerned there is no god seriously think about it

  • Nissange Desilva

    I’m amazed about the 3 simple steps above. After thinking it through very carefully, I found they are exactly the things I ACTUALLY DON’T DO right now. I must and will start doing them. Thank you ‘michaelhyatt.com’.  Nissange

  • Fhosani

    I ask for consultation, advise, read book , take some rest and think deaply before moving to the next step.

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  • Jodie

    Thank-you! Your site was the first one when I searched ‘i don’t know what to do’. It is simple…. thank-you, as my husband reminds me to ‘quit thinking’.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.morris.355 Joseph Morris

    I found this site through a google search. I am hoping that your advise will work for me. I still have no idea what the right thing to do is. I have tried everything I know and can afford. I have three book I am getting no traction in promoting. they are located at jlmorrisjrmynovels.com. I at the end of my rope and am considering giving up on writing. I have a fourth book and children’s book almost completed. I feel that even submitting them could be the wrong thing to do. I don’t know how to set up interviews. I guess I just don’t really know how to promote anything. I am not a salesman. even in my day job sales is a problem for me. I guess I’m just looking for some magic thing to do. something I can do that will work. maybe that’s asking too much.

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  • Chris x

    Thank you, not sure quite what that will be yet, but thanks anyway xxx

  • tanya

    Doing ‘The Next Right Thing’ is awesome. It really help me alot and it gave a boost up to my confidence. Thanks a lot for sharing this experience with us.

  • irelrysmom

    I have used all of these options over and over. What about when it feels like you are a mouse on a wheel and you can’t catch up and you can’t get off?

  • Tim Van Noord

    So… what ended up happening?

  • nisheet

    Wow! i feel like reading this again and again. It has eased a lot of stress in me.

    God has created us. He has given us sense, body and ability to do a lot of good work. As a caretaker of this form, it is our responsibility to keep it healthy. So whenever we feel sad, sick or unhealthy, we should pray to god for further directions. He won’t speak out directions, but it will be visible in our next actions during the testing time.

  • sam

    What a disappointment, I thought I finally found something that might help me, but it seems based on the comments that this is a religious book. Anyone know anything like this that isn’t about prayer?

  • robert nicholas

    I agree with what your saying but how do you know what should be next right thing when you have so much that needs mediate attention

  • Aanya Dewera

    My confusion! How do I know what the next right thing is?

    • FutureFox

      ^ This!

  • Bei

    I put on some hot water for tea, and wash dishes–to be doing something while the concern reverberates, “You need to do something”.

  • Antagonist

    I often get this overwhelming sense of imminent doom, and my mind fills up with the same statement repeated over, and over, and over again until I succumb to the anxiety: “I don’t know what to do”. I physically, emotionally or mentally flee the situation after the built up terror becomes unbearable. “I don’t know… I don’t know…”, I don’t know what? What don’t I know? “I don’t know.”. It’s horrible, paralyzing agony of uncertainty and peril. These words are not just words, they steal my control, they seep in like a poison to which I cannot remedy.

    So tonight, like the night before and the night before last, found myself spinning in the hamster wheel of despair and unknowing. I wanted to tell someone, (or something) that I didn’t know what to do. Whenever I’ve been vocal about this uncertainty, it’s met with furrowed eyebrows and irritating questions. It’s bullshit, because my statement is it’s own paradox. I don’t know, but I don’t know what it is that I don’t know, and that terrifies me.

  • eli

    Somehow I found your site with ways of dealing with feeling overwhelmed and unable to move ahead. Thank you for this – here I am in the Australian bush, temporarily unable to do very little from injury, but surrounded by an endless number of tasks that need to be seen to.
    Your words of advice have helped enormously. Thank you.

  • Rachel

    Thankyou.

  • JacquiD505

    Best thing I read, ever. You might have just saved me time and being stressed out not knowing what to do with my life. Thank You.

  • 1determined1

    Like Michael, if availability l seek counsel after prayer, my first line of defense. I have heard that phrase before, “do the next best thing”, and I agree completely. God can’t move a parked car, and action relieves stress, James in the Bible did say faith without works is dead. Granted my action taken is AFTER I have prayed, not just embarking on my own thought processes. Sharing with safe and wise other’s is invaluable. Part of my frustration is usually out of some disconnect, sharing sorta grounds me again, and I can get on my merry way. Wise people ask for advice, humility is wisdom, but not very popular.

  • Mily

    Although this makes me feel less worried and as much sense as that makes, I just have one question, “what is the next right thing”. What if everything just seems wrong how do I know I made the next right thing?

  • ann

    If you know what the next right action is then you know what to do. Now lets see you sort the situation when you REALLY dont know what to do

  • Cindy

    I have no idea what I am doing that’s why I am on here.