it’s a common question, “What should I do?” You ask your mom, best friend, therapist or a teacher. Where did it start, this asking a question without really defining the question. Remember this routine? As a child in elementary school you would shuffle up to your teacher, eyes pointed down. “I don’t get it,” you would mumble, hoping for the quick answer; an easy fix. She would respond, perhaps asking you to clarify, “What’s your question?” she’d say. “Hmmm…That’s the damn question for which you most likely didn’t have an answer. It was so much easier, faced with overwhelm, to simply do the shuffle, crease your forehead and look confused Again, you would ask, pausing this time. “Ummmm…I don’t get it,” you’d say once more.
As an adult, you still may not get it sometimes. But when faced with challenges now, you ask a different question, still desperate, however, for direction and guidance.
“What should I do?” you ask.
Today, a client called to ask this question. He was regretting a break up and wanted nothing more than for his ex to take him back, trusting that the previous year filled with make-ups and break-ups was just a simple mistake. “What should I do,” he asked. “What can I say to get her to take me back?” Of course, you could imagine that as a Life Coach I seldom tell someone “what to do.” Occasionally, I may dish out some “best advice,” but mostly I answer that question with this doozy; this piece of information designed to help the one who is asking the questions to ask a better, more specific question.
Instead of, “what should I do,” I tell clients to ask themselves, “What’s the next step I could take today?” This approach requires that one break the answer down into baby steps — ask the Universe, his “Higher Power,” or God, perhaps, for little pieces of internal wisdom that can act as a flashlight, providing the guidance necessary to see just a few yards in front of his face.
Ask yourself, “What is the next step I could take today?” The answer will come in the form of small, measurable steps. What’s now required is faith that taking this step, following intuition and listening to the quiet voice within will provide the direction that is required to maintain forward motion. Want more information? Learn to ask more specific questions — not of your friends, mentors or coach, but of yourself. Clear away the clutter to gain access to your internal wisdom. Develop a practice to connect to this wisdom consistently through yoga, meditation, a brisk walk, or simply staying still during your morning shower.
Ask. The answer will come. Perhaps you won’t receive the BIG answer — the one that will tell you what the future holds. Most likely, my client didn’t get an answer to his question such as “break up.” “Make up.” Or, “she’s THE ONE.” However, through the empowering questions I did ask him, he came up with a strategy for today — an answer for the question he had regarding his next step. Most important, the answer didn’t come from me. It came from within him.
Ask yourself. Be still. Listen, and then know that sometimes a flashlight is exactly what you need to stay on your feet, moving forward, one step at a time.