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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? (especially when you’re changing career and life) [Wise Wednesdays]

[A young doctor reached out this week asking what to do about his career. He’s torn between medicine and his artistic gifts. Medicine is secure but art is where he comes to life. He’s trying to combine the two but it all falls flat.


I was about to respond when I came across a 2018 Wise Wednesdays. While the specifics of his situation require a specific approach, the general response hasn't changed. Here it is updated.]


It was about 10 years ago when I declared my self-diagnosis: I don’t know how to relax.Of course, it wasn’t strictly true. I went on holiday, enjoyed good times with friends and family and loved reading interesting books by the sea.

But I’d been on a treadmill of achievement and was starting to see the limitations. It was endless.

A key moment came towards the end of my specialist training when I was invited to step into the next part of my career. I had a viscerally, felt realisation that while this was the expected path, I was also being invited to build a gilded cage…I had to course-correct and step onto a path that felt closer to the truth of who I am.


Career Course-Correction:

A downside of career course-correction is that you may not know what you’re supposed to do - not immediately at least. It's not a bad thing. It’s the start of a new journey.

As Tony Robbins says: You’re confused? Congratulations!The natural reaction to not knowing what to do is to panic and think something is wrong leading to:


·      searching for external answers and advice

·      getting busy and frantic with a new project or idea that’s off on a tangent

·      giving up and settling for something that’s OK


If you’re stuck and don’t know what to do, more likely than not, you are going round in psychoemotional circles. Same old thoughts, same old emotions, within the same old way of seeing the world. You won’t necessarily be aware of it until someone else points it out – hence the term blind spots.

If you have a tendency to veg out on the sofa rather than take action, then you may just need to get up and try something.

However, most people who read Wise Wednesdays including my clients are action takers.

The people I coach are already extraordinary in their own way. By societal standards, they have already achieved a lot (even if they don’t see it). They really have nothing to prove; but they have so much to create.

They’re starting to differentiate between the compulsion to act and the desire to create. They’re starting to see that they have a choice between continuing to strive to achieve the next thing versus trusting that everything is unfolding perfectly, provided they get out of their own way.

It doesn’t mean they don’t have to take action to care for themselves and their families and make a contribution to the world. But the motivation is completely different.The benefit is that they have the chance to realise their full potential (not just the achievement that is socially rewarded)…

The tricky part in shifting from the blind drive to achieve and survive to a joyful creativity that brings both material rewards and intangible fulfilment is two-fold:


As usual, meditation, journaling and a coaching type process will help you navigate these emotional and psychological rapids, and trust that it’s going to be OK even when things look bleak. 


As one of the super doctors I coach said about the shift he experienced: “you will be challenged to step out of your comfort zone so that you can emerge an even greater version of yourself. Just as a warning, this ‘greater’ version is one that you will be very happy with, but not necessarily one you can predict becoming”.

Don’t have a dead person’s goals

The discomfort of transformation can’t be avoided. Psychologist Dr Susan David tells of a person who came to her saying: “I don't want to be hurt, I don't want to be sad, I don't want to be rejected, I don't want to fail” to which she replied: I understand. But you have a dead person’s goals.”

So if you’re at a crossroads and don’t know where to set foot, it's probably time for you to allow for something different. Perhaps you don’t need to choose right now. Perhaps the options you have are limited compared to what is really available to you in the grand scheme of things.

But what you probably don’t need is to find the perfect strategy or plan just yet. Why? Because your worldview is likely too limited and needs expansion first.On the other hand, what might help and that is often skipped by doers and achievers is to: 

·    Relax (your body and mind)

·    Reflect (- as you relax, new thoughts will arise; allow for these to articulate themselves)

·    Release ( - let go of what you thought should have happened so you can invest energy in the new possibilities)

These steps will restore natural, healthy motivation and help resolve inner-conflict. From there, you can act. The result will be smoother action and better strategies, not to mention healthier engagement with the people who can help you. What this looks like in practice is different for different people.

In summary, when you’re stuck as a doer/achiever, more likely than not, you need to slow down and dive under the hood of your mind-body vehicle to see what’s going on (in which case, you are warmly invited to The Boundaries Clinic tomorrow. We’ll discuss how powerful ‘boundaries’ can help you to carve out space and time to dive in and discover the path to your best work and life).

As I learned to relax, the vision I had dreamt of as a teenager for my career came true. And as this creative cycle was completed, I was propelled onto a different path…

Are you willing to relax and trust before acting? 

Compassion – Courage – Wisdom,


p.s. Ready to amplify your voice next year? Join me for a Boundaries Clinic: Prioritise your needs without sacrificing your purpose. Rapidly address leaky personal and professional boundaries and start 2024 energised and focused. For free registration here => 


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