“I Don’t Know” is a Lie

Do you ever feel stuck?  Not knowing what to do next?

Well, you are not alone. I coach many young adults, just like you, who are confused. Quite often, in fact. Young adults are confused about which school to attend.  Whether to serve a mission or not. Which apartment complex to live in.  Which major to choose.  Which job offer to accept. They ask questions like: Should I go home for the summer?  Should I take a semester off?  Should I marry this certain person? What should I do after I graduate?    Even every day activities can seem to get all of us stuck sometimes:  What should we do this weekend?  What should I write my essay on?  Where should we meet for lunch?  What do you want to do?

But, here’s what you need to know…

One of the biggest thiefs of time is three simple words:

I Don’t Know.

Our Brains Are Pretty Tricky

Human brains are pretty tricky and have three main objectives: to Seek Pleasure, Avoid Pain and Conserve Energy.  Our brains love “I Don’t Know,” because if we don’t know what to do next, we don’t have to do anything at all. = Energy Conserved.

I have observed this phenomenon quite regularly with my husband’s work meetings.  His employees go to him with problems and things that need to be improved.  They offer lots of solutions and directions they could go, but in the end… they don’t take action and are still telling themselves, “We just don’t know what is the best solution is.”

I have observed this phenomenon with one of my daughters.  My daughter needed to write a short essay on why she wanted to join the yearbook staff.  When I asked her why she wanted to join the yearbook staff and what she was going to write about, all she could say was, “I don’t know.  I don’t know what to write.”

I observed this just this morning. Our family is heading out of town for the weekend. When I asked my youngest daughter to start packing, I bet you can guess what she said to me. “Mom, I can’t pack. I don’t know what to pack.”

I have observed this, almost daily, in myself.  As I sit down to write letters to my son on a mission, create my Tuesday Tidbits, record a podcast, or even before I sat down to write this very Blog Post…  my brain tries to tell me, “I don’t know what to say.”

Our Brains Love “I Don’t Know” Because We Don’t Have to Take Action

Our brains love “I don’t know” because when we are confused, then we don’t have to get going on solutions, or writing yearbook essays, or packing, or crafting blog posts.

Hanging out and being confused, is just so much easier.

“I don’t know” is always a lie.  A lie that clouds the innate wisdom that each of us has available to us.

The minute we say or think, “I don’t know” we, literally, close ourselves off to figuring out the answer.

Thinking this way creates confusion and as a result, we just become even more stuck. And as long as we keep believing we just “don’t know”… we won’t take action, we won’t move forward and we’ll lose valuable time.

“But, I’m just bad at making decisions…”

I know many of you are thinking, “But, I’m just bad at making decisions and I really don’t know what to do.”  My friend, you just need to pick something and start taking action. It doesn’t even really matter which course of action you take. Just start practicing the skill of making a decision and moving forward.

Almost everyday I have to tell myself: “Jennie, just start writing.”

About the Fog

The analogy I like to offer my clients is this:

Picture yourself in the middle of a lake, in a row boat.  As soon as you think, “I don’t know,” a fog rolls in.  And the fog is thick enough that you can’t figure out which direction to row.

Now remember, our brains love to conserve energy and they LOVE the fog!!  Because… if it’s foggy, we don’t have to pick up the oars and get rowing.

But, a little brain hack I’ve learned is this… Instead of thinking, “I don’t know,” I always tell myself, “I know exactly what to do here.”  Now, you may not believe it at first… but, you will be AMAZED at the clarity that comes… just by just by switching out that one thought.  

If You End Up Somewhere You Didn’t Plan on Being

Once you start taking action, you may end up on a shore that you hadn’t planned on, but all of that is just fine. It’s actually awesome. So, don’t worry! You will learn so many things in your journey there and you will gain soooo much insight on how to chart your course for your next destination.

Don’t buy into the lie that your brain is telling you.  Don’t waste anymore time thinking “I Don’t Know.”

Inspiration NEVER happens in the waiting.  Inspiration happens in the doing.

So, pick up those oars and row!

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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