Last Updated on July 8, 2024

I don’t know what I’m doing (and that’s OK)

Many of my creative, neurodivergent clients don’t know what they are doing.

That’s OK, neither do I!

The only problem is they think this is a problem.

They believe they have to know.

  • They have to know the source of their problems.
  • They have to know what’s going to work, in advance.
  • They have to know what to do, before they can take action.

Of course, none of this is true.

It’s not a problem to not know stuff.

Because you can learn as you go.

But I get it, because I do this too.

I couldn’t be spontaneous

Once upon a time, I was I was a shy middle school kid, on vacation with my family.

There I met my new uncle, Alan.

Alan’s a good guy.

He was the first adult to really hang out with me and try to get to know me.

One day, he took me to the movies.

We had planned to see a movie at a certain time.

But when we got to the movie theater, that movie was sold out.

He suggested we simply find a different movie to see.

I freaked out and couldn’t do it.

I didn’t know what to expect of the other movie.

It wasn’t what I’d planned!

So we just went home instead.

Overcoming fear of failure

Being autistic, I’ve often freaked out when things don’t go according to plan.

In the past, I would endlessly research, thing about, and overplan everything.

This was all to deal with my fear of failure.

I’d even try to plan out whole conversations, like before talking on the phone, or asking a waiter to please refill my water.

(“Oh no! I don’t remember his name! Nevermind, I’ll just be thirsty…”)

When I first became a coach years ago, I’d try to plan out my sessions with clients.

I’d brainstorm all the methods I knew that might help with the client’s presenting problem.

But then I’d get into the session, and none of my plans would make sense.

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming, we are taught to elicit the structure of the problem.

Once you do that, the solution becomes obvious.

NLP teaches you to respond to reality, as it is.

So there’s no need for overplanning!

Now I just show up and things flow.

I even create new techniques with clients on the fly!

Free expression

These days I regularly practice spontaneous free expression.

I do some sort of “free writing” almost every day, where I have no idea what I’m going to write before I write it.

I do “free moving” where I dance or move in an unplanned way, without knowing what movements I’m going to do.

I even do “free speaking” in my weekly group coaching classes, where I have a general topic but then just riff on it for 20-30 minutes.

And the result is even better than when I used to plan out my talks.

This is all very comfortable for me now.

Often it’s quite ecstatic even!

But even so, I still find myself with thoughts about “what am I going to do?”

And feeling like I have to know in advance.

But now I know this is just fear talking.

I can let the fear go, and just rest in the wordless silence.

From there, I can probably muck about and figure it out!

And if not, it’s no big deal, because I’ll learn something new.

How would your life change if you knew you’d be OK even if you didn’t know what you were doing?

Because ultimately, none of us do!

We are all just learning as we go along.

Take care,





P.S. If you want to learn how to live more and more from this spontaneous, experimental flow, join our weekly coaching group The Joy of Doing!

We meet Sundays at 11 AM Denver time for an hour. Your first month is only $7 when you use coupon code: 40

Here’s what one person recently said about the group:

“I really love the accountability of reflecting in a group, and just the incredible resources you all are to me. … Being creative people, we’ve all tried a lot of things, and we have a lot of experience, especially when we come together and we can talk about our shared experience or the things we’ve tried that are sort of variations on a theme. I find that really incredible.

“I was really enjoying hearing my reflection partner’s journaling system today, and all of that is just … such excellent grist for the mill, in terms of … staying in the mindset of … experimenting … and celebrating. …

“A couple years ago, I started to just really realize that celebrating my friends was really important, and to like, lift them up. And it’s nice to have that in … a little bit more of … a self development space too. Yeah. I have a loud inner critic, and my inner critic … gets to play with a Rubik’s cube during this hour, so that’s nice.”