Take the Next Right Step

Reprinted with permission from Listen: Trusting Your Inner Voice in Times of Crisis, by Lynn A. Robinson, published by Globe Pequot Press (2010).

Are you going through a big life transition? Perhaps you’ve lost a job, gotten divorced or you’re suddenly an empty nester. It’s not at all unusual to feel a bit directionless and just plain lost! Misguided loved ones may encourage you to “get over it,” “let it go” or “buck up” and proceed with your life. If it were only that easy! Your old life is gone and you probably feel you don’t have a clue about where you’re heading. And even if you did, you may not know how to get there.

Depending on your circumstances, you could be feeling depressed, hopeless, tired, overwhelmed or all of the above. None of these emotions puts you in the optimistic mood necessary to create the positive change you so desperately want or need. However, I love this irreverent quote by Lee Iacocca, “So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.”

You’re Not Lost. You’re Exploring!

It’s also a bit like looking at a map for directions when you’re unclear about your destination. It’s hard to get there when you don’t know where there is! My friend and songwriter, Jana Stanfield, has a wonderful song entitled, “I’m Not Lost. I’m Exploring.” One of the lines is “I have joy as my compass and faith as my map.” I’m willing to bet you know more than you give yourself credit for. You know, for example, that at least one or more of the following are true. You want to:

o Feel happier

o Have more fun

o Be healthy

o Have more friends and sense of community

o Be more confident

o Have more money

o Find work that you love

o Be in a loving, committed partnership

o Feel joy again

o Make healthy choices for your life and your body (overcome addictions)

o Have more faith

o Make up one of your own.

I’d like to give you a technique I call “The Next Right Step.” You may want to have all of the ideas mentioned above, but for the sake of this exercise, I’d like you to choose the one that most resonates with you right now.

Take Those Action Steps!

Here are the rules:

· Every day, I’d like you to take one step towards whatever you’ve chosen. They needn’t and shouldn’t be huge action steps. They should be baby steps.

· These actions should be something you want to do. You want these steps to be intuitively inspired. This means that when you wake up in the morning, ask yourself “What feels exciting (interesting, compelling) today?”

· If you feel drained, bored or uninterested in any of the steps you’ve chosen, it’s your intuition telling you it’s not the right time, right step or something else is out of harmony. Don’t do it, even if your logical mind is telling you it makes sense.

· If you absolutely need to take an action, but don’t feel inspired, see if you can break the task down into smaller pieces that do feel interesting.

Here are some examples:

“I’d like to have more fun.” Today I will:

1) Call Mary. She always makes me laugh.

2) Get the directions for the museum and begin to plan a trip to visit there.

3) Buy a good novel and look forward to curling up on my easy chair to read it.

“I’d like to find work that I love.” Today I will:

1) Suggest a coffee with my neighbor. She seems to love her job and she knows lots of people.

2) Ask Steve about the career coach he worked with after he was laid off.

3) Read the article I found on the Internet about advice for career changers.

“I’d like to feel healthier.” Today I will:

1) Go to bed an hour earlier and skip the news.

2) Take a walk outside even if it’s just to the end of the street and back.

3) Take some slow, deep breaths when I feel stressed.

“I’d like to have more friends and a sense of community.” Today I will:

1) Call Joanne and see if she’s free for lunch this week.

2) Attend the prayer group that Suzanne has been telling me about.

3) Look into volunteering at the local animal shelter.

You get the idea! These don’t have to be big things that will almost always overwhelm and discourage you. At the end of the week you’ll have seven things you’ve done to make yourself feel better! At the end of the month, you’ll have at least thirty. Each day you are making a powerful statement to yourself and the Universe. I’m willing to join forces with You to begin to heal, enjoy my life and re-join the human race.