Not Knowing What You Want Should Be a Temporary Stop

sitting aloneWhen working with my clients it is not uncommon to hear, “I don’t really know what I want.”


That’s ok.  It is perfectly acceptable to not know which direction you want to take next.  At the time we are working together they have reached a critical point: a break.


They have decided that they want to do something and care enough about themselves and their future to invest in it by working with me; but where that next step will be is the tricky part.


It can be a very good place to be – a time to stop and reflect as to where you have been and take all factors into consideration to make an informed decision going forward.


But the problem is sometimes we get overwhelmed with the possibilities of the next step that we refuse to move our feet at all.  This is when the designed temporary situation can become a permanent detractor.


We begin to become a bit more recluse and cautious.  We tend to start analyzing everything from the negative perspective.  Instead of looking at opportunities for the potential for growth we look at them with a skewed perspective making them fit into our past.


“It could turn out like xyz did before.”


Well, yes, that is always a possibility – but remember you do have a part in this process.  It will definitely turn into xyz if you allow it to do so.


That next new job could also be a whole new adventure.  You could learn new skills, meet fantastic people, gain a valuable mentor or take your career in a whole new direction.


You won’t know by sitting on the sidelines doing the “I don’t knows”, it just leaves the door open for someone else to swoop in and take your opportunity.  The “I don’t know” phase is a phase that you should remain standing at all times, not sit and get comfortable.


There are risks but by staying too long at your temporary break can cause you to become overly protective of yourself.  It is like keeping an arms distance from everyone long after the breakup is done.  You can only use that “I don’t want to get hurt/screwed over” excuse forever.  These two words mean the same thing but I find men tend to go for the second phrase rather than the first word.


The other problem is you will also become more self-contained.  The more you hide away from opportunities because of fear of not knowing what you want the more you will limit those opportunities to come to you.  Instead you will find yourself drawn to the less desirable positions of the past because that is your only mindset.


That is when you can become a little bitter and be heard saying things like, “I knew it wouldn’t work out anyway” or “I knew I wouldn’t get the job anyway.”  Bitter is not pretty.  And frankly, it is your own fault so get off the pity party.


If an opportunity comes around during the “I don’t know” phase take a moment to look at it from all sides.  Make sure it does not have any of the negative qualities that you do not want but then look at the positives.  Maybe there are a lot of unknowns, which is not necessarily a bad thing.


Sometimes you have to take a chance.  Those unknowns could end up being hidden gems but you will never know if you don’t take a chance.  Let it be a catalyst to getting you out of the temporary place.


If it doesn’t work out then you have just had a great lesson in clarity about more factors that you do not want going forward.  The whole point here is to keep going forward.  A person or job is not going to wait around for you forever.  Someone else will swoop in and court them away while you were sitting there.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


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