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


Not knowing how to do something should never be accepted as a legitimate reason for not doing it – particularly when the thing you are NOT doing is the thing you really love!

This chapter is dedicated to those who do not know what they would like to be doing, and also, to those who DO know, but see no way of realizing their goal.

In order to help as many people as possible, we will use a hypothetical case study involving a young lady we will refer to as Margaret Ann Potter. Maggie, as she will be informally addressed, is presently employed as an administrative assistant to a highly successful real- estate developer.

While she takes pride in doing her job well, she is not happy in her work, although certain aspects of it occasionally appeals to her. In addition to her basic secretarial duties, she is occasionally invited to make suggestions on promotional brochures and other advertising material that her employer uses in order to publicize his new projects. In the past, Maggie has helped him write these brochures and ads, and she regularly handles all of his correspondence, composing it herself once the basic message has been conveyed to her.

Maggie is obviously drawn to any aspect to her job that concerns writing. Everything else is of little interest to her. Whenever she is asked what she would prefer to do if any career were available to her, Maggie appears uncertain. “I like to write,” she admits. “In school, I thoroughly enjoyed my English and journalism classes. Also, our Thespian society would occasionally present original plays, and I very much enjoyed working on those.”

While it is clear that Maggie would like to do something that involves writing, there remains the question of what she should do and how she should about doing it.

Maggie has no illusions about what it takes to become a professional writer. She knows writing is a skill that is gradually developed and refined, and that she will have to serve an apprenticeship. Meanwhile, life goes on and bills must be paid. Better to forget about writing, Maggie decides, since it is more important to be practical. But somehow, being practical is not enough. Maggie soon realizes that the nagging discontent she feels is not going to go away. This forces her, at last, too consider taking on some sort of work connected with writing. For the time being, she knows it will need to be a part-time occupation.

Maggie writes down everything she can think of that is even remotely related to this field. The things that come immediately to mind are put on one sheet of paper, and then the less obvious possibilities are listed on another sheet. In time, there is a third sheet, on which is listed a combination of the first two.

It takes Maggie seven days to complete her lists. When the first two lists have been combined to make the third, it reads something like this:

Public-relations Resume writing Technical writing Speech writing

Business correspondence/home-based secretarial service

Advertising work

Newspaper reporting (stringer) Newspaper-column writing Ghostwriting

Book reviewer Newsletter service Novelist



Proofreading Editing Research Work

Once the final list is complete, Maggie is surprised at the number of choices actually available to her. Now, it is simply a matter of eliminating those that are the least desirable. Once this is done, Maggie’s list is reduced to:

Newsletter service Advertising work Ghostwriting Novelist

Of the choices that remain, Maggie is now ready to admit that she wishes to be a successful novelist more than anything else in the world! She also knows that advertising work, newsletter writing, and ghostwriting will assist her in achieving her goal.

In the town where Maggie lives, there is a weekly newspaper, the Legal & Business Gazette that regularly prints a listing of all the new business telephones that have recently been installed.

Taking note of these numbers and addresses, Maggie pays a visit to the owner of each establishment. She is not surprised to find that while these people are certainly interested in advertising their products and services, they cannot afford the fees being charged by major agencies in town. Once Maggie has determined what potential customers can

afford to spend, she agrees to work for them for an affordable monthly retainer.

In time, Maggie’s little business grows to the point where she can afford to work independently on a fulltime basis. A newsletter service soon adds to the volume of work she regularly performs under the name of Action Advertising.

Throughout this period, Maggie gradually learns of various writers’ groups in town. She becomes a member of the groups that have the most to offer and attends their monthly meetings. She also advertises in their newsletters, offering proofreading, editing, and typing services.

Maggie is pleased with her progress, since the people whom she is now associating with are in a field she truly enjoys. She is socializing and working with other writers – and best of all, she is learning from them!

As her skills become more polished she takes on some major rewriting work. Her clients are pleased with her ability to make some sense out of their poorly structured plots. This inevitably leads to her first professional ghost writing assignment, and with the help of a well-placed ad in the Sunday edition of the newspaper, other such assignments quickly follow.

At this point, Maggie is ready to phase herself out of advertising work and become a full-time writer. She works on a performance-contract basis, collecting portions of her fee as each job progresses. Meanwhile she is thinking seriously about writing a book of her own.

Because of her commitment to others, Maggie soon finds that her own book rarely receives the time and attention it deserves. While it seems

at first that there are just not enough hours in the day, she senses that she is really procrastinating.

One day, Maggie realizes that it is time to face the situation squarely. She makes a point of reminding herself that everything she has done thus far is in the interest of furthering her own writing career. It is time to begin her novel! She knows she must work on it with the same amount of diligence and dedication that she has always applied when working for others.

Once again, it is necessary to formulate a plan and commit herself to a specific schedule. When it is done, it looks like this:

WRITING GOAL (Subject Matter)

Pages per day = 1 chapter every                           

Deadline dates:

Chapter 1 Chapter 11 Chapter 2 Chapter 12 Chapter 3 Chapter 13                           

Chapter 4 Chapter 14                           

Chapter 5 Chapter 15                           

Chapter 6 Chapter 16                           

Chapter 7                      Chapter 17                           

Chapter 8                      Chapter 18                           

Chapter 9                      Chapter 19                           

Chapter 10                    Chapter 20                           

First draft completion date

Time allotted for editing, proofreading, revision

Second draft completion date

Time allotted for editing, proofreading, revision

Third draft completion date

Deadline Date Set for Mailing:

Working according to this schedule, Maggie is pleased to find her book progressing nicely. Once it is completed, she sends it off to an agent and then thinks about other short and long-term goals.

Not all of her goals are concerned with writing, but in every case, they involve something she would like to change or improve in her life. At this point, Maggie is ready to make up a perpetual list of goals. As each one is achieved, she intends to cross it off and then add on another. The format for this is quite simple in design


How I intend to achieve this goal                                                              

Deadline date                        


How I intend to achieve this goal                                                              

Deadline date                        


How I intend to achieve this goal                                                              

Deadline date                        


How I intend to achieve this goal                                                              

Deadline date                        


How I intend to achieve this goal                                                              

Deadline date                        

Maggie decides that she should always have a list of five projected goals, as this is a comfortable number for her. She begins at once to work toward each of them, paying careful attention to her progress.

The foregoing case study involving Margate Ann Potter is easily adapted to other individuals and professions. In each instance, the steps involved are the same:


Make up two lists of possible career choices. The first will be done on a totally conscious level. The second will consist of ideas that come to you more spontaneously. Finally, there will be a third list, which is actually a composite of the former two. A period of seven days should be devoted to each individual list.


By eliminating all of the less desirable choices on your final list, you will soon be able to determine the thing or things you would most like to do.


If your immediate financial obligations do not permit you to undertake your life’s work on a full-time basis, you should begin to work TOWARD it in a way that at least allows you to become involved in some related field.

(NOTE: In Maggie’s case, she began to do advertising work. While copywriting was not the writing she most enjoyed, it was writing as opposed to waitressing or clerking. It was closer to what she wanted to do than any other job she had ever held.)


Seek out the company of those who are already successful in the field you wish to enter. For a time, you may wish to work for them, or possibly, become affiliated with them through their clubs and organizations. This is one of the easiest ways to begin working toward your long-range goal. It works like cross-pollination in the sense that you will constantly be picking up and tossing out valuable ideas and, in this way, continue to learn form the experts in your field.


Once you have begun to work toward your goal, it is important to remind yourself that you are already working toward it! Every day, in every way, as quickly as possible, eliminate anything that causes you to veer off your path, anything that draws you into activities totally unrelated to your life’s work.


Design your master plan! This is the really BIG one, the one you have been working toward from the first. Write down the exact steps involved in achieving this goal, as well as anticipated deadline dates. Then keep this schedule in front of you! Look at it the first thing every morning and the last thing every night. Allow yourself to feel pressured by your self- imposed demands. Take time to enjoy the exhilarating tension that is causing you to work harder – and smarter!


Make up a second list of short and long-term goals, those related to both personal and professional matters. As each goal is achieved, add on yet another, and keep the cycle going!


Reward yourself for what you have accomplished. Treat yourself to an evening on the town, to a special little gift (nothing practical, please!), or a well deserved vacation. Permit yourself to feel proud of what you have done, and what you are presently doing.


Keep doing it!

STEP #10

Finally, allow yourself the ultimate luxury of doing what you love and loving what you do!


The only difference between those who devise a way to perform their life’s work and those who do not it should be obvious by now. There is nothing in this chapter, or even in this entire book, that has not been successfully tested and proven to be a workable concept – either by myself or by other successful people I have known. These methods work! The only way they cannot work is if they are not applied.

Nothing unreasonable is expected of you. Under no circumstance are you encouraged to abandon any gainful means of employment. Nothing impulsive or foolhardy is required. Nothing of that kind is even necessary.

The real goal here is to get you working TOWARD your goals, whatever will make you feel happy and fulfilled. In order to get where you are going, you must first undertake the journey!

You are reading this book because you want to live your life as it was

meant to be lived. There is nothing wrong with that!

If I could sit down and speak with you personally, the things I would say would most certainly include everything that is contained within these pages. To that, I can only add that I know you are capable of achieving whatever you wish. I know you possess the talent, the skills, and the potential. And certainly, the opportunities are there. Opportunities are everywhere!


Having made the decision to undertake your life’s work, you will undoubtedly find the first year to be an exceptionally exciting and

challenging one. You may wish to monitor your progress and take special note of areas that need improvement. If so, the following chart will prove extremely helpful:


Grading System:

A – No improvement needed B – Little improvement needed

C – Some improvement needed

D – Substantial improvement needed E – Major improvement needed

SUBJECT Now 6 mo.


Ability to accept responsibility Specific goals set Persistence

Self-discipline and motivation Act upon decisions

Ability to reinforce self Ability to set priorities

Enjoyment of work

Belief in ability to succeed Time-management skills Ability to meet deadlines Energy level

Degree of sincerity Overall attitude

Ability to organize smooth work flow

Avoid unnecessary demands upon my time


Your lists, your schedule and charts will make everything you do that pertains to your life’s work seem that much more important. Before long, this feeling will escalate into a sense of urgency! In case you hadn’t already guessed, that’s the whole idea!

Many people are avid readers of motivational books. They also listen to tapes. Whenever possible, they may attend lectures and give thoughtful consideration to the success formulas that others have used. Still, they never get MOVING!

Something you must understand about success-oriented information, regardless of its form, is that it requires action. Nothing will happen until you are ready to apply what you’ve learned! Reading about success is a

passive exercise. So is listening to audio programs. In order for anything to work for you, you must first become actively involved!

As you begin to feel a greater sense of urgency about your life’s work, you begin to make lists and formulate your plans and schedules. Now you are in an active rather than a passive mode. Now you are applying the things you have learned as you itemize your goals and work out a method for achieving them. Wherever you happen to be – START FROM THERE, but GET MOVING!

Dr. Robert Anthony

Dr. Robert Anthony

The works of Dr Robert Anthony are some of the best kept secrets on the Law of Attraction. Operating without the massive self-promotion and razzmatazz that so often accompanies other ‘Personal Development’ teachers, Dr Anthony has nevertheless provided a guiding direction to some of the most successful people on the planet.

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