How to Stop Trying to “Figure it Out” and Just Start Living

There are moments that are pivotal in our lives. Moments that seem like they are make-or-break, like our next decision is one of the most important ones we will ever make. It could be a question of our careers, relationships, family, or where to move or live.

I’m pretty open to change and taking risk (a serial entrepreneur at heart) but these moments can feel very unsettling — like you are trying to navigate through something sticky, unsure of what is at the end.

This is how I’ve felt for the past year since closing down my ethical fashion business and trying to navigate a period where one of the strongest parts of my identity — my work — was undefined. I chose to close down my business from a positive place after coming to the realization that retail was not for me and the business model was not the best for my health and wellbeing after being diagnosed with a manageable and chronic form of cancer at the young age of 29.

As a former workaholic and recovering hustler, I don’t do well without having a lot of work on my plate.

Attempting to figure out what I want to start and build next seemed daunting and like something I needed to uncover and solidify quickly so I could move on to building once again. I wasn’t comfortable with just relaxing and being, so I kept myself busy. I did a three-week solo trip to Bali where I didn’t allow myself to work (and the one time I tried to my computer mysteriously wouldn’t turn on… thanks universe!). Instead, I got massages and tried to be still with my thoughts. Spoiler alert: it was hard. Really hard.

When I returned I got a part time job so I could make some money and take the pressure off of “figuring things out,” but the part time job was taking over more and more of my time, distracting me from connecting more deeply with my thoughts and blocking space for other work to come through. I tried online manifestation courses, read a lot of self-help books, and listened to podcasts, all in an attempt to look for direction in deciding my next move. I was looking for outside help on a very internal dialogue.

During this time it was easy to get stuck in comparison mode — free time meant scrolling through Instagram, getting mindlessly sucked into the trap of “If only I had more followers I could monetize,” or “She left her job last week and already has a full roster of clients… why don’t I?!”

The ironic thing, though, is I have never been one to do things in the way everyone else seems to. I am a rebel at heart and one that doesn’t follow the rules — so trying to fit myself into someone else’s box or paradigm doesn’t serve me well. I was drowning myself in thoughts of what I didn’t have — a business card with a title on it, a masters, a certain number of followers or clients, experience in certain fields… the list seemed endless.

I wondered how I could make an impact on this planet with so much noise and content already out there.

That was until one day when I decided that I had a unique story to tell, all my own. I am someone who has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs launch their own businesses before launching mine. I worked in a refugee resettlement office. I am a writer. I care deeply about sustainability, mindfulness, and holistic living — so deeply, in fact, that I created a daily newsletter, The M List, to give tips on how to live that lifestyle. My cancer has given me an interesting and unique perspective on life, and has transformed the way I live and eat to be the most supportive of my mind and body. I realized that the number on my Instagram was in no way a reflection of the impact I have on others, how successful my career has been, or how I live my life. It sounds silly to say, but it is so easy to get caught up in numbers and lose sight of the real work.

So I changed things up.

Instead of attempting to “decide” what to do, I started following leads and trusting my intuition. Reaching out to people who inspired me. Leaving time to be open to receiving projects and ideas. I leaned into the skills I enjoyed and knew I could monetize — primarily my writing. I even launched a podcast, Medium Well, which documents my journey navigating through transition, exploring myself more deeply, and connecting to people whose careers and lifestyles embody what I could see for myself. It was only when I started clearing space that projects and opportunities came through. Since then I have been careful to track what brings me energy and joy and what depletes me, working towards swinging the balance towards only that which I love.

What I realized in this process, and through my podcast, is that we never really figure things out. Maybe we think we do for a little while, but I am too much of an “ideas” person and do-er to be doing the same thing for the rest of my life anyway. Instead of trying to determine the one-liner for my business card, I am working on defining how I want to live my life and what impact I want to leave. I am taking each opportunity as it presents itself and determining how to move forward. I am exploring the best avenues and models for helping people to be kinder to themselves, each other, and the planet.

I am looking to love what I am doing right now, with no agenda, expectations, or pressure for the future.

Sara Weinreb is a writer, strategist, and design thinking facilitator on a mission to support people and businesses in being kinder to themselves, each other, and the planet. She is the host of the Medium Well podcast, and founder of The M List, a daily newsletter supporting individuals in living a more mindful, holistic, and sustainable lifestyle. Sara has dedicated her lifestyle and work to helping others live a more holistic, stress-free lifestyle. She writes for Forbes, mindbodygreen, AlleyWatch, StartupFashion, and more. You can often find her on the yoga mat, making herbal elixirs, singing karaoke, and attempting to keep alive her growing collection of plants.

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