A Formula For Figuring Out What To Do Next

A New Story

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are" —e.e. cummings

The countless number of current choices available for how to live our lives is nothing short of astonishing. Which can also make them overwhelming.

No wonder my head hurts when I’m yearning to embark on a new path! I find myself doing everything other than making a selection for what to do next….because the pressure to choose the “right” course of action is real (I’m deconstructing this concept in a bit, so hang tight).

It’s been a bit since I last posted here, for a few reasons: the effects of the pandemic, the distraction of a new writing platform, the cacophony of social media, and my customary response which is to hide pause 😉

But when a pause becomes an absence and then it morphs into persistent angst, it’s definitely time for taking some action, don’t you agree?

Today’s post is about how I’m going to use a process of reflection, trust, and action to shift into a new purpose this year.

what to do next

"What does not add to your happiness or life becomes a burden" —John Robbins

1. Reflect On What Energizes Me

Thought leaders and coaches talk about Discovering Our Why, Doing What We Love, or Uncovering Our Passion. All are variations of a theme, which is  identifying What Energizes Us so we can know what to do next.

Yet we have more than one purpose in life. This is evidenced by the various roles we’ve assumed over the years. Wife, Partner, Lover, Mother, Sister, Daughter, Employee, Employer, Neighbor— the list is long.

When one role ends or demands less of our time, we may not easily or immediately land on what our next role in a new life chapter should be.

But right there … the words “should be” … perhaps this is precisely why it feels challenging. Who is the Decider of  “should be”: Is it us? Society? Family or friends? 

What if we choose to be the sole author of our new chapter? In fact, what if we choose based on what “could be”? Doesn’t that feel better?

After all, the reality is that there are any number of possible paths. Some will be easier than others. Choosing one depends on what matters most to us. What we are willing to invest in terms of time and resources. What we are willing to forego in order to pursue a certain goal.

And what matters most to us can also change over time. Our priorities sometimes change as we ourselves evolve. 

For now, consider what gets you energized, just thinking about it. The things you don’t get tired of talking about or doing. The things you’ve put off or are curious about. Now can be the time to explore those paths.

Just remember, if it doesn’t feel right at any time, you can always pivot. But give it a chance so you’ll know if it makes sense for you.

what to do next

" May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears" —Nelson Mandela

2. Trust My Choices

Secondly, it’s not about choosing the “right” path as opposed to the “wrong” path. Instead, come up with a short list of possible next moves that are not impractical… that are fun, intriguing….that feel intuitively worth exploring. Who knows where they may lead!

If your choice begins to feel like a slog, then it’s simply time to reassess whether to continue or not. Maybe it’s just a temporary phase where the learning curve is initially steep. Or maybe it’s time to ponder whether to keep going.

Either way, just pick a path and see how it develops. Set a time limit to come back and re-evaluate whether to continue or not. When you look back on this chapter what would you rather say: “I gave this a shot but learned it wasn’t what I thought it would be” or “I wish I had given this a little more time to really know for sure”?

After all, regret is not something any of us want to include in our last life chapter, is it! 

what to do next

"The key to having power is to take it" —Boss Tweed

3. Take The Next Step

Once you’ve selected a path, it’s time to get in motion. Take the leap! 

If you’re like me, it’s easy to get caught up in your head, ruminating about this, that, and the other. You may spend (too much) time watching others doing their thing while you idle on the sidelines. When will you get going? 

A body in motion stays in motion; a body at rest stays at rest.” —Sir Isaac Newton

So, yes: time to begin! Take the first step and know that it doesn’t have to be a big one. And then take another. Followed by another. Just identifying and executing a series of small steps is how to get out of your way so you can get on your way.

And if that insidious companion called Perfectionism holds you back, here’s how to tell it to take a hike.

The Wrap on a Process for figuring out what's next

listen

A basic trifecta of reflection, trust and action can shift us into writing a new life chapter when it’s time for a change.

It requires allowing ourselves the time and space to listen to what makes our hearts happy. It rquires that we mute the outside voices and forces (and sometimes that inner voice critic) that tells us what we should do. How we choose to write our next chapter should be up to only us, amiright?

So pay attention to what lights you up, pick a path and get going. Prepare for some twists and turns along the way. Plan to pivot here and there. But this is your life to live, no one else’s. And know that I’m cheering you on, all the way!

…..

I can’t be the only one feeling restless and untethered these days. It’s been a long haul the past two years. But now I’m formulating a plan to start moving ahead with my writing again. I know what energizes me, I’m focusing on only my own writing and no one else’s and I’m taking the little steps. Boom!

So tell me:

  • If you’ve been in the same boat, what are you doing to shake things up?
  • If you’re smooth sailing ahead, how did you set yourself free?

Any insights you care to share in the comments below are always welcome.

…and thanks for stopping by! ♥

6 thoughts on “A Formula For Figuring Out What To Do Next”

  1. Great read, Mary. Time is essential when making decisions, and pausing is part of my process . I used to call it procrastinating, but now I think that’s my wisdom…not rushing, not getting on the bandwagon. Sure I’ve hopped on a few, but I’m ok with hopping off too. I’m enjoying giving one or two things my focus, and nit being pulled in all directions.

    1. Mary V

      Katherine, I agree 100%: we are blessed with the ability to move ahead on our own timeline, no one else’s! It’s a luxury that we should (not just could) exercise. And that time when we’ve hopped off is so important for differentiating between what we need and what we want. And also for filtering out what others say we should need or want. Thanks for weighing in, my Fave Lite Traveler! xo Mary

  2. So good, Mary!! I most resonate with #2 – am learning to trust my choices. We usually know the next right thing to do – including when it’s just time to pause and take a break. That’s where I am now. Good to hear you are focused on writing – go go go!! Keep us posted!!

    1. Mary V

      Denise, lean in to the peace of the pause! I suspect you’ll be back in motion, soon enough because you’re definitely not one to sit still. Once I myself land on a path, Trusting our choice is really the most respectful thing we can do. It’s honoring our instincts and choices, right? I can feel your upbeat energy and I’m sending back {{{warm vibes}}} your way! xo Mary

    2. Pause and pivot, for me those seem to go hand in hand.
      Being retired has really given me the option to pause. As you said we play so many roles as women.
      It’s nice to be able to pause.
      Quiet the mind.
      Thanks Mary, food for thought.
      Marleah

      1. Mary V

        While time feels like it has flown by and we are now “of a certain age”, we still have the time to take our time with what our next step will be. And pausing to savor the simple pleasures of the present moment is priceless in my mind! Lovely to hear from you, Mimi! Be well xo😘

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