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Repost: 10 Things You Can Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

June 24, 2011

10 Things You Can Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Have you ever found yourself stuck when it came to handling an issue or a project? Or stymied about how to address a relationship problem? Or challenged with a dilemma that had no easy way out? Or facing an ethical bind or impasse? We all find ourselves in situations at times when there seem to be no good alternatives.

So what do we do when we don’t know what to do? Here ten actions to consider:

  1. Seek the counsel of others, especially those you trust who may have faced similar circumstances. Those with more life experience, and presumably greater wisdom, can be helpful when you are discerning a difficult issue. These may include family – yes, even parents – friends, acquaintances, clergy, counselors, and coworkers.
  2. Use your values for guidance. Identify the most relevant values – those that best fit the situation. Then use those values to determine your course of action. Be true to yourself. You may want to draw upon your religious or spiritual beliefs for guidance, if applicable.
  3. Visit your library or bookstore, looking for books that offer guidance for the problem you want to tackle.
  4. Search online. There are, no doubt, more than a few websites that can offer helpful tips. Take caution that the advice makes sense to you, though. There is a lot of unvetted material online.
  5. Reflect on how you have handled similar situations in the past and identify strategies that worked and those that did not. Recall lessons learned then and put them to work now.
  6. Ask yourself and others, “How would a truly great person handle this?” Perhaps think of some great people that you admire or view as role models, then research their approach to handling tough situations. See what you can learn that will help you resolve your dilemma.
  7. Be magnanimous and brainstorm solutions with others involved in the situation. Focus on solving the problem, rather than being right or debating who was to blame. Those conversations usually lead nowhere. Instead, take responsibility and apologize for your part in creating the situation – even if you feel your part was limited. Others may see things differently. Expressing your regrets and accepting responsibility is often the first step in breaking through to a solution or repairing damaged relationships. Then seek the input of others on how to move forward.
  8. Put others first. Such a posture usually comes back to help you, especially when you are being honorable. Think about the situation from the perspectives of all the other people involved. If you were in their shoes, what would you consider to be a fair or acceptable solution, and why? Use that analysis to guide you.
  9. Create a plan, even if you only think it through in your mind. Most people simply wing it. Avoid acting before you consider how to approach and handle the situation. Factor in the perspectives, needs, interests, and objectives of the others involved.
  10. Take action. Usually the longer you let a problem fester, the more difficult it is to resolve.

Try implementing these ideas as they fit your circumstances. They may help you find and develop positive solutions.

Steve Weitzenkorn

Our book, Find Fulfill Flourish, was named a Finalist in the Self Help category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times calls it “an inspirational tour de force” Click here to purchase it. Click here for an overview and here for a free sample chapter. Book readers also receive FREE access to all premium exercises and content on our website.

Take the FREE Guiding Values Exercise.

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