What to do (when you have no idea what to do)

What to do (when you have no idea what to do) - Josie Feather Blog

As Chris Traeger once said, “I am 100% certain that I am 0% sure of what I’m going to do”. If you don’t know who that is, then I’m very sorry for you, and would recommend you go directly to Netflix and binge Parks and Rec for the rest of the week.

That quote is exactly how I felt for years.

At times I’ve felt like social media has made it seem like everyone’s got their whole lives figured out. Every ten year old is starting a fortune 500 company, and all the 12 year olds are traveing the world and getting masters degrees, and there I was with no clue what to do. I would read and listen to countless blog posts, books, and podcasts about how to achieve your dreams(!) It felt like I had all the steps memorized, perfectly ready and willing to do the work, but have absolutely no idea what work I was supposed to do.

“Do what you’re passionate about!” the world seems to scream these days, but what do you do when you have no idea what you’re passionate about? It’s taken me years to figure out what I’m passionate about, and figuring that out was a way different process than I thought it would be. I used to think you just knew, and something was wrong with me for not knowing. Maybe that’s how it is for some very lucky individuals, but I think for the majority of us it just doesn’t come that easy.

Get to know yourself

I know I’m maxing out my Parks and Rec references here, but just like Anne, you need to date yourself. When I think back to those times I felt completely lost and generally freaked out by not knowing where exactly I was going, I realize how little I knew myself. I was overcome by fear and insecurities that slowly over time I’ve had to chisel away at to get to the real me so I could even find out what things I like, much less what I am passionate about.

So… how do you get to know yourself? I fully encourage you to follow your whims. One thing I knew I always enjoyed but I never seemed to actually make the time for was reading. Over the last few years I’ve made it more of a priority, something part of my every day, if even for just a few minutes. I also indulged in anything that had sparked my interest - I took horse back riding lessons, taught myself calligraphy and lettering, learned to run, and traveled more. None of these things have anything to do with what I’d call “my passion” but by indulging in them I learned more about myself and what I love, and sometimes, what I don’t love.

Take care of yourself

I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life. Even during better times when I didn’t find it impossible to get out of bed, I still felt like I was living with a brain fog and a general apathy for life. Those my friend, are not a good combo when you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life. If you are struggling with any number of mental or physical problems you need to stop and take care of those first. You’re not going to be able to find your passion if you can barely even find joy in regular life.

This past year I discovered how much exercise helps me fight off depression, but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t hit me at times (especially when I have extra stress), so I also took another step and finally found a therapist I can talk to. I don’t have regular appointments with her, but if I hit a wall I can make an appointment anytime and I already have that relationship. No matter what your struggle is, set up systems to help you overcome and keep you on the right track. You can’t chase your dreams (or even figure out what those are) if you are’t taking care of your health first.

Give yourself time

At one point I remember feeling frantic to figure out what was next. I felt like I was loosing time and needed to decide what direction to go in ASAP. After talking with my therapist she told me I needed to give myself a break, stop raking my brain and just enjoy life for a while. So I did. Well, kind of. As best as I could. I decided to just stop thinking about it, stop worrying so much. Which is easier said than done. I experimented with things and tried new things without any specific hope that they would be the answer I was searching for.

If you’re struggling with where to go next, take a step back. If you’re getting ready for the craziness of college and aren’t even sure what to study then I love the idea of gap years. Don’t just sit around in your parents basement for a year and waste the time away - travel, volunteer, try new things constantly. Give yourself some time and space to experiment and have a little fun.

If you don’t know where you’re going - I feel ya. To the very depths of my soul I do. Don’t be tough on yourself, everyone has either been there or will be there at some point in their life. Care for yourself, know yourself, and give yourself some space and eventually you’ll get there. More than anything, just learn to enjoy life.

Post That Selfie

Josie Davis

Last year when I decided to go from freelancing back to full time work I realized that if I was ever going to make daily workouts part of my life I had to do it then. It would never get easier to add it in later. In fact, it would only be harder to try to change my habits once they were set, but since my daily habits were about to change for work anyway, now was the time to add exercise in.

Getting up at 5am and going to the gym is not easy, especially those first few months. No doubt about it, you’re tired and your brain is foggy and, if you’re like me and had mostly been an afternoon runner, you move like a sloth that’s carrying all it’s luggage through the airport. All I wanted was to crawl back into bed and forget the gym existed. But I didn’t.

I actually started a fitness instagram account. It sounds super cheesy, especially since almost all of the photos were mirror selfies, but here’s the thing, it actually helped. Not only did I use that account to follow other fitness people who I could look at for motivation, but posting that dangon mirror selfie every day felt dayum good. It was like a little victory lap for my brain. I may seem silly, and heck, it actually is a little silly, but that little mental victory lap definitely kept me going some mornings.

Even in the moment I thought it was just some goofy thing I was doing, but I’ve been listening to the audiobook of “Eat That Frog” and Brian Tracy actually encourages using social media to post about your goals and help hold you accountable. It’s funny how little things like that can make such a difference. For years I wished I could build a healthy workout habit and seriously struggled to come anywhere close to it, but putting myself out there more and celebrating with something as basic as a selfie, I found it a lot easier to mentally push past.

As a society I think we tend to think really poorly about selfies. It’s easy to write them off as something self obsessed teenagers do, but I actually think they can be so helpful for acknowledging achievements and for someone learning to build their self confidence. As someone who’s always had low self esteem I feel a weird unbalance when posting a selfie that is so hard to get over some days, so if you have ever felt the same, I’m here with you. It may feel weird, silly, or just plain strange at times, but forget all of it - post that selfie.

Big Dreams

Josie Davis

I’m a realist. Actually, I’m more of a pessimist with an annoying penchant for pointing out any and all tiny little problems that might potentially happen along the way, no matter how unlikely they may be. All this to say that I’m not much of a daydreamer. My brain tends to shoot down lofty dreams pretty quickly. Of course, it’s a lot of fear too. Fear is the jerk who likes to whisper in your ear and tell you it’s totally not worth dreaming because it’ll never be anyway. I’ve never spent time thinking about what my dream house, or dream car, or even just dream pair of shoes would be (are dream shoes a thing? I’m so bad at dreaming stuff I truly don’t know what people dream about).

I’m trying to change that though, and I’m trying to learn to dream big. A few years ago I sat down with my husband and tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my career. At that point I had really no experience in the job market besides retail, and some very painful years in college waitressing (sorry to all of you who had to put up with one of the most awkward and clumsy waitresses while attempting to enjoy some Mexican food). I remember Frank asking me what my dream job would be, and after a lot of thinking, I told him it would be to style homewares for Terrain, my favorite brand. At the time it seemed like this crazy insurmountable goal. Their parent company UBRN is notoriously hard to get into, and talent teams are basically buried alive on a daily basis with resumes of creatives trying to get positions at the Home Office. But I got scrappy. I did whatever I could, and well, to make a long story short, here I am. In the exact job I had seemingly no real right to even hope for.

Looking back it seems like a small dream, even though it felt huge at the time. I recently started seeing a therapist again, and when I talked to her about my career she told me a little more than sarcastically “well, I guess you should have dreamed bigger then, huh?” Ouch. Nothing like having a mental health professional roll their eyes at you and tell you you’re thinking too small, but I supposed that’s also what I’m paying her for, and seriously, she was totally right.

As a little exercise I decided to think of my dream house. I’d never really thought of that before. I had thought about houses that I liked for sure, but a dream house, like a legit, wildest dreams house had never been something I had spent even a minute considering. It was actually really hard to put myself out of my pessimistic box and out into the open of dreamland. At first I thought “Well, I’d like to be near the beach” and then I had to remind myself “DREAM house” and said “okay, okay, ON the beach”. Even giving myself permission to think of a dream house that’s on the beach felt like I was really stretching myself.

I truly believe you don’t luck into things. If I’ve learned anything from Micheal Scott (and apparently this Wayne Gretzky fellow) “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I also think you miss 100% of the dreams you didn’t bother dreaming. Obviously there’s a lot of hard work behind getting to those things, but I’ve found that hard work is the easier part for me. I’ll gladly put my nose to the ground and bend over backwards to reach my goals, but sometimes you gotta dream big.