The Next Right Thing
In that year of my awakening, disorientation was my constant companion. Change, grief and loss laid on my life like bricks. Heavy yes, but not just. It turns out that these bricks, crafted from all that had been hard and uncertain, became the path to my awakening. But along that road I felt lost and isolated and uncertain. With each new challenge came another decision. The constantly changing landscape of this journey was wrought with forks in the road that left me wondering if I was doing it right, fearful that I was misreading the signs. What if I was simply getting it wrong?
Answering the invitation to a Big Life is only the beginning. Then what? Which way forward is the "right" way? How does one decide what to do next? These aren't inconsequential decisions and they become even harder if you are in a space where small everyday decisions like what to wear to work or where to go out for dinner result in a vortex of confusion. And yet, this is our work - to listen, to be open, to notice the things that make us come alive. But once we have an inkling, an idea of what this bigger life might be about, we are faced with the logical next question. How?
Whether the changes we are seeking are minor or constitute a seismic shift, getting started is what keeps most people from creating the life they want. The confusion and uncertainty that can accompany a change can be immobilizing. Suddenly the whole undertaking comes into question. We wonder if something this good for us should be this hard - but remember we already discussed that hard is not bad. Not knowing how to begin is not an indicator that we should not move forward.
There is a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous that I find helpful here - "Do the next right thing." I love this saying. This very simple concept is a reminder that we don't need to have the entire plan worked out to begin moving forward. We don't even need to actually have a plan. What we do need is the conviction that we are being invited to something more, something bigger, and the willingness to say "yes".
I have seen this play out in my own life every time I practice taking the next right step. Because the universe wants so much to collude with us for our own good, it will put in front of us exactly what we need to move forward - one step at a time. Maybe the big picture, the complete vision is too much for us. Perhaps if we knew what the Source had planned for us we would be filled with doubt about our ability to succeed. It is likely, if we knew up front what might be required of us in full, we might change our mind and decide that our life is good enough the way it is. We all know the wisdom of the next right thing whenever we see our experience in 20/20 hindsight. How often have you said, "well in hindsight it all worked out but if I had known upfront..."? It is worth considering the possibility that we not only do not need to know the whole picture, but that we often sabotage our own effort when we do. The detailed plan is too much information because at this point we are still thinking too small, from the same mindset that got us here in the first place. If we could see the big picture, most of us would be overcome with doubt about what we are undertaking. At this point in the journey it is likely that we honestly don't know exactly what we are doing. The good news is we are not supposed to know! The first step and the next and the next, is simply to do the next right thing.
It's okay that right now in this moment you don't even know what the next right thing is. You are not alone here. The One who invited you is waiting to show you. Relax. The truth is, once you commit to a bigger life, once you say "yes", the next step on the journey towards that Big Life will appear there in front of you when you need it. But not before. So keep saying 'yes'. Keep looking. The next step might appear in a conversation or a book you read or in a Facebook post. You don't need to know where it will appear but you can be confident that it will. And when it does you will be more than ready to do that next right thing.