My father in law has a saying.
"When you don't know what to do next, do nothing."
Now this is exactly the kind of advice that I rebel against. As a type A, goal-oriented person, I always have a plan. A next step. A goal. And a very casual 10 step process of how I expect to get there. Even when I was younger, if something didn't work out, I could immediately change course and move on to the next idea. I even had back up plans for my back up plan. But then as I got older something changed. Life didn't seem so easily navigated. I thought that I had lost focus on my goal, or maybe the goal just didn't matter anymore. But either way, I found myself in a job I didn't like, spending time with people I didn't love and holding myself to commitments that I didn't want to be in. So if this is you, then hear me out....
Doing nothing is NOT lazy.
As a society we revere productivity. We even try to make our relaxation time more productive. Cue the self-reprimands for not meditating enough and binge watching my favorite tv show instead. But the truth is, our brain needs the opportunity to do nothing.
When we meditate, we bring our focus to the now. We gently move away from thoughts of the past or future and focus our attention on mindfulness and awareness in the moment. This state of experiencing our present selves can help connect us to our truth. Who are you now helps you to connect to what you want in this present moment. We can effectively clear away the clutter of expectations, demands, obligations and just feel alive.
Alternately daydreaming often brings us to thoughts of the future. When we daydream about the perfect job or look forward to a distant vacation, we turn on the creative parts of our brains. We cycle through the analytical and empathetic pathways of thought. By doing so, our brain is more likely to make connections and associations that we haven't thought of before. Daydreaming gives us the opportunity to create goals AND figure out ways to get there.
So if you have a problem that you haven't been able to solve, have a big life decision to make, or you just don't know what to do next.
Meditate. Listen to music. Take a walk. Daydream. Take the time to see what your brain comes up with.
After all, you are the best expert of your own life.
Miranda Stauffer is a Certified Health Coach and Personal Trainer at Merritt Clubs White Marsh.