Can’t decide which direction to take next and it’s causing you stress? A coach and psychotherapist gives some tips on how to take the first steps.


It’s amazing how easy it is for people around you to make important decisions. It is as if they intuitively understand what they want, where they are moving, what career to choose, in what neighbourhood to live and even with whom to marry.

And you … can not stop at one thing, all the time “changing lanes” while travelling along the “road of life”, constantly interested in something new. Coach Barbara Sher calls such people “scanners”: they feel best in conditions of constant change, trying to try (“scan”) as much as possible, even superficially.

This is all fine when you’re actively doing something – but what if you can’t even get started?

“It can be difficult and scary for a scanner to decide what to do next. Fortunately, there are certain strategies that can help you figure out where to go and start taking action,” says British coach John Williams, author of “Screw Work, Let’s Play!” who hosts a “Scanners’ Night Out” in London every month. Here’s what he recommends.


1. Choose a project

Many of us were last seriously immersed in something when we were still at school, and yet projects are very useful: they give us the opportunity to focus on one area while discovering new things.

First, decide on the area of your life in which you want to make progress: it could be a hobby, career, sport, travelling, personal life

Make a list of all the development options that are attractive to you in this area. Write everything without limiting or “censoring” yourself. Do you want to change your occupation? List all possible professions that may be of interest to you – from stockbroker to writer or coach.

Once you’ve made your list, pick the one that seems most appealing so you can experiment a little to start. If you can’t decide at all, flip a coin. No matter what you decide, the important thing is to decide.

2. Work on one thing for a month

Set aside a small amount of time – say half an hour a day – that you will devote to a project each day. Don’t spend it thinking endlessly, reading or searching the internet for all kinds of information. Take practical steps to get you closer to your goal.”

For example, if you are going to establish a personal life, go on a date or at least actively communicate on the Web, not just look at the pages of potential partners on dating sites

If you decide to become a web designer, talk to people who are already doing it, try to join their company, read professional publications or take relevant courses.

As long as your interest remains solely in your head, you won’t be able to see if it really suits you or not. You need to try it out.

3. Don’t give up on an idea too quickly

Scanners especially often give up on new activities before they’ve tried them. If what you start doing doesn’t work or doesn’t bring you joy, don’t give up right away. Take some time to think about it.

Ask yourself what else you can do to make it work. Often, just by sitting and thinking, you’ll discover new possible ways to do things

If things aren’t working out, ask yourself: why? If you’re bored or don’t get along with the people involved in your project, think about whether you’ve had similar problems in the past. It can be very helpful to see patterns that keep occurring in your life.

For example, if you get bored quickly with something you decide to do, realise that this is a normal reaction for you in the early part of your journey so that you can really focus on what you are doing.

4. Be flexible

If you put in the effort, you can do almost anything, but it’s worth remembering that some fields are much harder to succeed in and have a lot more competition. This is especially true in creative professions such as writer, actor, singer, musician. This doesn’t mean that you should give up everything that seems too difficult and look for something easier.

But sometimes it’s worth realising that you can get what you’re really looking for by doing something a little different

For example, if you want to become a writer, think about what it is about this craft that appeals to you. Do you enjoy playing with words or maybe you want to create fantasy worlds? If the latter is true, you could pursue your passion in other areas, such as set design, writing computer game scripts or working with children.

5. Remember that the decision can always be changed

Many people are afraid to choose one thing and put all their efforts into it, because they feel that now they will always have to do this and only this, even if they dislike it later. But once you make a decision, you can almost always abandon it over time. It is important to adjust your path as the situation evolves, but in a last resort you can always change your choice.