What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

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Sometimes knowing what to do is easy. Other times, more often than we'd like, choices are unsettling. You want to make wise decisions, but...

Your daughter is worried about her friend’s choices.
Your boss asked you to make a questionable deal.
You witness a mom losing it with her toddler at the grocery store.
Your son says he hates school and doesn’t want to go anymore.
You know you should confront your friend about her gossiping, but when and how?
Your neighbor’s dog barks 24/7 and it’s making you crazy.

Every day what now decisions.

You have a job offer in another state.
You want to homeschool but your husband isn’t sure.
Your doctor wants you to try a new medication and you’re not sure.
You like your church, but your children say they hate it.
You’d like to go on a mission trip but can’t decide which one.

Thankfully less frequent difficult what now decisions.

Sometimes knowing what to do is easy. You look at right vs. wrong and even though it’s not what you want to do, you know what you should do.

Other times, more often than we’d like, choices are unsettling. Your options go in dozens of directions and you have no idea what to do. You want to make the wise decision, but it’s just not clear.

I’ve had to make plenty of complicated decisions and I wish I could give you a quick and easy formula that could make every decision easy or at least, easier.

I don’t.

All I can tell you are some things that help me. What I do when I don’t know what to do. Lessons learned the hard way.

Times I:

  • Let fear paralyze me.
  • Let the wrong person lead me to make the wrong decision.
  • Let anger lead me to react badly.
  • Let the crowd lead.
  • Let my need for control . . . control.

And learning what not to do helps you and me know what to do. So here are…
Sometimes knowing what to do is easy. Other times, more often than we'd like, choices are unsettling. You want to make wise decisions, but...

8 Things to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

1. Admit you don’t know what to do. – It’s okay that some decisions are hard. It’s just part of life. Admitting that a decision is difficult helps keep your thoughts clear by minimizing worry and fear.

 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:6–7

2. Ask yourself if any part of the decision is clearly right or wrong. – Wisdom is knowing the difference between right and wrong. It’s knowing God’s commands and being willing to follow them. Even in difficult decisions there are ways to move forward in obedience, and a willingness to obey makes us more sensitive to God’s direction. Start by doing the things you know you should do even if it’s just a small part of the decision.

He leads the humble in the right way and teaches them His will. With faithfulness and love He leads all who keep His covenant and obey His commands. Psalm 25:9–10

3. Pray about it. – I believe God wants us to ask Him for His counsel. What to do and when to do it. He invites us to pray about everything. I frequently pray…

Lord, I don’t know what to do, but You know. Please show me what to do, when to do it, and how to best glorify You. Show me Your will. Help me to know the truth in this situation. Soften hearts. Clear minds. And give me Your courage and strength. In Jesus name. Amen. 

4. Be still and wait for His answer. – Trust God’s timing and ability to guide a heart and mind yielded to Him. He may be working things out in ways you can’t see. He may be teaching you through the waiting process. Trust Him and be patient.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:5–6

5. Do what you can. Research. Ask a wise mentor. – When it comes to a move, job change, or whether or not to home school your children. Do your research. Ask for advice. See if the answers you find match well with your goals . . . which means you must have goals and know them.

Goals help you overcome short-term problems. ~Hannah More

6. Listen to and value the thoughts of the other people involved. – Almost every decision you and I make impacts the people around us. Valuing their thoughts on a decision is an important way to show them you love them. It doesn’t mean you will be able to do what they want, but listening and letting them know they matter will bless your relationship and your decisions.

The mind of a person with understanding gets knowledge; the wise person listens to learn more. Proverbs 18:15

7. Ask yourself how you would advise someone in a similar situation. – Sometimes just asking yourself how you’d counsel a friend can help you gain perspective and objectivity.

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. Proverbs 19:20

8. Ask yourself . . . what’s the loving thing to do? – Let love win. Love is always the right thing to do. The answer to that question may make your decision easier than you think. 

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

The 8-step process isn’t fast or easy, but with God’s help it can lead us to make wiser choices and in the end, that’s exactly what will make us happier and more content.

Did I miss anything? What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

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23 thoughts on “What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

    1. Thank you, Andrea! It is God’s timing. It has taken me years to finally trust that His time and purposes are always best! But my hurried decisions and forced situations have never turned out well. So thankful for the Lord’s patience with this slow-learner. Blessings!

  1. What a timely post! I’ve been having to make hard decisions here recently and this post was just what I needed to confirm what I already knew. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with the rest of us! 🙂
    ~Haley

  2. All your tips are wonderful, Deb. I especially like your reminders that we should pray first and then, when we act, do it with love. I’ll certainly keep these in mind when I’m facing my next “I don’t know what to do” moment.
    Blessings!

  3. This is great advice. When I do it right, I follow a similar process. I think my worst decision have always been made out of fear. I try to remember that now, when I don’t know what to do.

    1. I agree, Dawn. Fear is the great paralyzer when it comes to making decisions when I don’t want to. That or I take advice from the wrong people. Trusting His direction and timing are simply better. Blessings!

  4. Hi Deb, Thank you for these ideas on what to do when you don’t know what to do. Sometimes when I’m in a place where I don’t want to do, I’m paralyzed with fear and end up doing nothing, which is a decision! In some way, I have followed many of the steps you suggested above.

    Blessings!

  5. Hello Deb! Excellent post, we often struggle to take decision when in reality it must be always God’s will and His way, so really praying like you say is really the answer and He will send the answer the way He wants. I learned that the hard way too! To relinquish the control to God is often the problem! It was mine anyway!

  6. Hi Deb,
    Fantastic suggestions! I found that I had to get in “tune” with myself and what I was feeling because after I would pray, listen, and wait, I would still feel like I heard nothing! In time, I was better able to at least feel a sense of peace over one decision or the other. Maybe I didn’t hear an exact answer, but I could feel the peace. I can think back to so many times having that feeling of unrest in my spirit, but not connecting with what it was. The things I wish my younger self knew! 😉

    1. Amen, Lori! Wouldn’t you love to go back and tell your younger self a whole laundry list of advice! Whew! Things I wish I’d learned, believed, and applied earlier!

  7. Thanks for this wise counsel, Deb. I sometimes wish for quick answers and if I’m not careful can rush to a decision too quickly. On a good day, I try a mixture of praying, seeking my husband’s advice and the counsel of other Christians.

    1. I do the same, Marva! Especially prayer and talking with Rev. It’s a blessing to have a man who I know will pray for wisdom for us both. Blessings to you!

  8. Hi Deb! Your” 8 Things to Do…” is welcome wisdom when decisions are many and answer’s seem elusive. Blessings to you. Visiting you today from the #RaRaLinkUp!

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