You’re feeling stuck again.
You have an important decision to make, but your thoughts are a perfect storm of “what ifs” and “but, waits.” You have texts you need to respond to, a meeting to schedule, a job application to complete—and you don’t even know what you’re wearing to that wedding this weekend.
You’re feeling overwhelmed.
I feel you. It’s normal to freeze up in the moments when you really need to take action. Sometimes, it’s because we have too many options and choices. We dread making the wrong decision, making the wrong turn, and ending up somewhere we don’t want to be. We dread not doing things perfectly.
Years ago, a therapist taught me how to move forward when I couldn’t figure out my next move. It’s a method called TAF or Think, Act, Feel.
It’s super helpful for someone like me who hits the pause button in a major way when I need to take action and get things done.
Step 1: Think
In the thinking phase, all you need to do is gather the pertinent information, drill down to what you want, and pick a direction in which to go.
It's the opposite of what I like to do, which is overthink about things. When I was job searching a few years ago, I made super long spreadsheets of places I’d like to work. I’d fill cells with data on company culture, commute times, salary, etc. The information was helpful—but what wasn't helpful was how I pined over the information for hours instead of taking any next steps.
Think about the least amount of information you'd need to move forward—almost as if you were going to explain the options to someone else—and then move onto the next step: action.
Step 2: Act
This part's all about doing the thing—making the call, texting the person, and setting up the date.
This is the hardest part for me because it’s so easy to get caught up in all the different scenarios of your plan not working out.
- What if they don’t text back?
- What if I don’t get invited for an interview?
- What if no one like the restaurant I choose?
And if you’re someone who often gets caught up in this merry-go-round of doubt, you’re not alone.
But taking action can feel liberating as well. When I actually hit send on those job applications, I felt a sense of relief. My resume and cover letter were out there and there was no turning back.
Taking action is about doing the thing—making the call, texting the person, and setting up the date.
Step 3: Feel
The last step is to feel all the feelings. This is the part where you take time to process the emotions that have come up as a result of the actions you’ve taken.
For example: If you texted someone asking them to go on a date with you, you have no choice but to wait. This is a good time to call up a friend and let them know how you’re feeling, journal about it, or express your emotions in another way.
Sometimes we run away from tough emotions, but there’s so much beauty in being mindful about where we’re at with things.
After I applied for a job, I'd typically feel some nervousness and then a sense of relief. In the "feel" phase, I'd try to remind myself that I did the best I can, and that if I’m meant to get the interview, I’ll get it.
'Feel' is the part where you take time to process the emotions that have come up as a result of the actions you’ve taken.
The next time you’re about to make a decision, consider using TAF.
If it still feels tough, here are some other things I like to remind myself:
Accept the problem: It’s okay to feel stuck. Invite yourself to acknowledge where you're at. You’re facing something that is challenging and by tackling it head on, you’ll feel much better in the end.
Progress over perfection: Think about how much time you could waste worrying about that report you need o write. Now, consider how good it’ll feel to just get the rough draft completed. That’s what TAF is all about—getting things done.
Momentum is your friend: Once you’ve taken action, you’ll most likely feel motivated and inspired to crush other items on your to-do list. Go for it!