“What do I do now?”
Have you ever asked yourself that question? Whether you are experiencing a life transition, find yourself in a place you never thought possible, or are simply trying to figure out where you go from here, it can be difficult to move forward when you don’t know what you are moving towards. Since I believe that all of us have been (or currently are) in the “what do I do now” phase of life, I am not going to spend a lot of time trying to convince you that it exists. Instead, here are six steps we all need to take in order to move forward when the road ahead is uncertain.
What Do I Do Now?
1. Stop Looking Back
Several years ago I found myself at a life crossroads. I was not happy where I was and couldn’t get over the feeling that if only I had done some things different in the recent past everything would be better. It wasn’t until I made a conscious decision, and got some help, that I was able to stop looking over my shoulder and start moving forward again. This is where the fight for forward motion begins. When you find yourself in an unexpected or unwanted situation you need to stop looking back and accept (I did not say become complacent) that this is your new starting point. You can’t change the past, good or bad, and the only way forward is to simply begin.
2. Reconsider your priorities
I talk often about the importance of knowing your priorities. So often when life takes an unexpected turn, the first thing to get tossed out is our understanding of what is truly important. In an effort to reestablish some degree of stability we forgo our priorities and take hold of whatever is close and convenient. You must have a clear, articulable set of priorities if you are going to move forward in uncertain times! What is your number one priority? Focus on that and the less important areas will begin to fall into place. The key here is understanding what is really important to you BEFORE this knowledge becomes critical. Make a list. Review the list daily. Realign your schedule to support your priorities. Then, when the road forward becomes less clear, go back to what you have always done. A clear understanding of your priorities will keep you grounded and focused when life begins to shift.
3. Pray for Wisdom
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
Do you need wisdom? Ask God and He says, if you ask in faith, that He will give it! It’s incredible to think that we can, and in fact are commanded to, go to the Creator of the world and all that is on it in prayer. He loves us and wants to hear from us. What’s crazy about prayer, though, is that it is less about getting things from God than it is HAVING OUR HEARTS ALIGNED TO GOD! When we pray, the Bible says we should do so “according to His will” (I John 5:14). Prayer allows God to cut through our own self-will and ambition and help us to see clearly the path that HE wants us to walk. Do you need wisdom? God promises to give it to those who ask.
4. Seek Biblical Truth
There are several verses in the Bible that describe Scripture as a guide for our lives, but here are two:
Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”
What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Go to the source of Truth, the Bible, and allow God to show you the way that He wants you to go.
5. Seek Out Counsel
Even though the temptation during moments of transition and uncertainty is to isolate, you must find others who can speak truth into your life.
Proverbs 11:14 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
Why is there safety in the multitude of counselors?
When life is the most confusing, we are the most open to lying to ourselves. We tell ourselves things that are not true because they FEEL true. A counselor can cut through the emotion of the moment and share actual truth.
Counselors provide accountability. I have recently written about accountability here, but you cannot be accountable by yourself. When the temptation to quit is the strongest, the need for someone to hold you accountable is the greatest.
A counselor can see the big picture and provide hope. Things are seldom as dark as they seem but someone who sees the big picture is needed to interject hope when it is needed most.
Good counselors point us back to God, the source of wisdom and truth.
6. Begin Where You Are
You may not be where you want to be, but you will never get where you want to be if you don’t start where you are! (pretty deep right?) Have you ever known someone that spends so much time complaining about where they are that they never move forward? Don’t be that person! Going back to point number 1, we need to stop looking back and stop complaining about our current bad situation and begin moving forward. Is this where you are? Then this is the place to begin! How you got here is only as important as it informs better decisions in the future. Don’t make the story of your life one of victimhood. Make it the story of overcoming incredible odds!
It is never easy to move forward when life takes an unexpected turn and you look around wondering how you got here. But there is a path forward in those, “What do I do now” times of life. You can begin again. Asses. Prioritize. Get Help. Start moving.