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

Basically every other day I don’t know what I want to do with my life. Buddha said to let go of fake futures and I did and now I have to brave the void.

At some point you realize that the dream you were aiming at was a phony. An imposter implanted in your brain by years of culture that you don’t agree with all the way. So you chuck it away in disgust.

What now? Maybe without your old dream you’ve become a nihilist by default. That’s not fun.

The future embarrasses us because it never looks like it’s supposed to. But what do we do if we can’t trust the future?

What do we do when nothing matters? When no plan is worth attacking? When passion isn’t available? When everything is changing and nothing makes sense?

We do the things we can do.

For me, I like to start with not being homeless. I have a real fear that if I fuck up too bad in life I’ll end up homeless. I’m not sure what future I want but I’m positive I don’t want that one. I’ve also spent a lot of time severely depressed; I know I don’t want to do that again.

If I can just avoid those two things my life will be pretty okay, at the very least.

All the below items are guaranteed to be good things to do whether or not you have any sense of direction in your life. As you do these things you’ll notice patterns. You’ll see that you unconsciously aimed yourself in a direction… the direction that you couldn’t find through abstraction!

…How to not be homeless (on accident)…

-Provide help for other people every day.

  1. Write. At least one person will tell me thank you for this article. Almost 100% of the time our relationship ends there. Every once in a while, though, somebody was so helped by something I wrote that they want to help me. They throw an opportunity at me.
  2. I give people ideas all the time. Sometimes they like those ideas and use them. Sometimes they like the ideas so much they give me an opportunity. Give people solutions to their problems. Maybe you’re the one to implement the solution, maybe you know who could, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. Give good ideas – it’s one of the last things we’re better at than computers.
  3. Smile at people. You might help them not kill themselves later that day. You might just brighten their day. I’m convinced that the biggest legacy anybody can leave behind is the accumulation of all the little connections they made with people throughout their life. A kind stranger can have a huge effect on your day. Be that stranger for others.
  4. The stuff that you do that I can’t do or don’t do. Adding more to the world than you take is a pretty safe equation. It doesn’t matter who you’re serving but, as Bob Dylan says, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

-Make friends.

We like to work with friends. We can trust them and work is more fun when you don’t hate the people you’re working with. Making friends is one of the best ways to ensure you won’t ever be homeless. Good friends. Not jerks that you think you should be friends with.

-Don’t spend all your money.

I have a friend that spent 30% of his paycheck going out to bars last year. He’s got a budget on Mint now so he won’t be homeless. We spend money in stupid ways. I’m writing this from a hotel room I got for my Valentine. Probably a dumb splurge. Probably not as dumb as the $72 of chocolate sitting on the table. Shit. I need a Mint budget or something. She better fucking like this.

How to not be depressed…

I’ve said before that fighting depression is like fighting a hydra. Every time you slice off a head two more grow back. That’s no good. You’ve got to starve the thing. It’s not about being happy, it’s about not being depressed.


The first week I started meditating while depressed I cut my rumination by half (or that’s what it felt like anyway). I was able to stop the spiraling terrors before they reached the really scary parts. I was deprived of the stories that fed the monster. And it started to die a little bit.


When you push your body hard something happens to the chemicals. There’s something with cortisol and testosterone and whatever else that happens and you begin to balance out. Not all at once and not perfectly, but you do get closer to sanity. There are few things I feel as good about doing when I have no idea what to do. No matter what path(s) you end up on, health is going to help.

Eating well.

Getting on a decent diet takes some will power up front. You might as well get on it now. Just like exercise, everything you do will be better if you’re healthy. Because they shit that makes up your body won’t be shit anymore. The hydra of Depression will have another source of power stripped away.

What to do when you know what to do…

When you do end up figuring out what it is that you want to do remember how you got to that. It’s probably a mix of accident and effort. Remember that you might wake up one day and want to do something different. It’s not that you chose wrong, it’s that it’s time for a change. That thing we call the “only constant” but somehow forget what a “constant” is.

Right now I know I need to finish this. I know I want to write tomorrow. I know I want to see this pretty girl in a few minutes. I know I want this big business opportunity to work out.

I don’t know if I want to marry that pretty girl and live forever with kids. I don’t know if that business thing will work out. I don’t even know if somebody will read this and be helped for sure.

I do know that if I have the luck of being alive for much more of the future I will spend much of it lost. I will spend much of it pretending plans will work. I will spend some of it wondering if I’m living a life worthwhile.

And I’m pretty sure I won’t be depressed or end up homeless. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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