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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« 5 Different Types of Next & How to Solve Them | What Are Today's Interesting Finds? - v9 »

Top 5 Wonderful Ideas for Figuring Out Your Next Step

Stephen Powers - Coney Island Is Still DreamlandEach month we focus on a different topic. For March we’ll be talking about next steps. We’ve had inspiring conversations over the last five years on this topic. I’m going to revisit some of those ideas and select my favorite ones to highlight and share with you.


Top 5 Wonderful Ideas for Figuring Out Your Next Step . . .


1. Go Small

Figuring out the next step can overwhelm us to the point of procrastination or inaction. This often happens because we’re thinking too far and too many steps ahead. One favorite strategy is to reduce “next” to the smallest possible and most doable action. This takes the scary out of the equation and supercharges the idea that, “I can do this!” For more about this concept, read my post How to Make Next Smaller and Actually Feel Wonderful. 


2. Breathe Deeply

If you’re like most of us, “busy” has become your new normal. It’s not just us, but also our children that are scheduled from morning to night. There’s little fluff time in our days. Our busy-ness can make it hard to think, plan and be effective. One of my favorite strategies to help the too busy syndrome is by taking a purposeful, mindful pause. Try some nice, slow deep breathing. To understand more about this strategy, read Why Breathing is Next?


3. Let Go

There are times when what we thought should be next, doesn’t happen. Our plan gets interrupted. Instead, if we opt to exercise our flexibility muscles, we can activate and get to next by letting go of our original plan. For more about this idea, read How to Do Next.


4. Get Comfortable
Energy gets expended when we’re working on figuring out our next step. It’s best to do that from a place of calm and restfulness. Getting back to the basics like getting a good night’s sleep and having a nutritious breakfast can help activate the brain and body to work with and not against you. To learn more, read The 7-Step Journey.


5. Ask Questions
We can become complacent, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But what happens when we’re in that place is that we stop asking questions. We stop being curious. We stop pursuing goals. Next isn’t even on the list because there is no list. We’re content with things as they are. However, if you’re looking to shift from that place and figure out next, there’s nothing like a great question to get the pump primed for action. For more about this idea, read What’s Your Next Step?

It’s your turn. Which getting to next idea makes sense to you? Or, do you have another strategy that works well. Come join the conversation and share with us! 





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Reader Comments (17)

I agree with all of these. The one I've been learning more about is "Get Prepared." Just as a painter spends a lot of time prepping the walls, priming the walls, taping off, sometimes the first step is just getting your mind, calendar, materials, and support network in place. Thorough preparation can ease the first step into action!

March 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- I LOVE that addition! It's so true that sometimes in order to figure out that next step, we need to get things in order (organized)...or as you said, "prepared." What a great analogy about painting and priming. Gesso first. Creating next. Nice!

March 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great tips, Linda. I notice that as I get older if I have interrupted sleep, it is harder for me to stay focused and on target with the goals I want to accomplish the next day. So, I make a point to wind down in the evening for a least a few hours before bed. I sometimes go right to bed and read a non-industry book or watch a movie that I saw before. I need to stop my mind from thinking so I can rest and regroup. It seems to work pretty well. Thanks for sharing.

March 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

I agree with Seana, preparation is key, and I love the idea of making the next step smaller, because we do get overwhelmed especially as solopreneur's

March 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

@Sabrina- Oh yes! I get the interrupted sleep part. It's so funny how our lives go in phases. When our daughters were young, sleep interruptions were the norm. I think we were sleep deprived for at least 5 years. Then things settled in and everyone slept well. Now that I'm of a certain age, once again, sleep isn't consistent. Like you, though, I enjoy reading for a good hour or so before bed. It helps for the relaxing and falling asleep part at least.

@Jill- Overwhelm is something that so many of us experience. As you said, especially as solopreneurs where we take on ALL the roles. It can be too much. Our minds can race with the enormous and ever-growing lists of to-dos. Breaking things down to the smallest possible denominator can make a big difference. Sometimes when my day has too many things on it, I'll grab a post-it note and write the next two or three things only that I want to do. That helps. Keeping things small and doable.

March 1, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great conversation!
One element that is key for me is double-checking my references.
I'm wasting my resources if I develop a plan with last year's image of myself in my head.

March 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlison Lush

@Alison- That's an interesting addition. I'd love to hear more about how you double-check and what types of things you apply that to. Fascinating!

March 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

These are great tips, Linda! I also really like the ones that have been added by the others. I find that I can get so involved with preparing a project and thinking about it that I over plan. To get over that I tell myself to just start. Find a logical place, set a timer and just start - even if I feel like I'm not quite ready. I've found that usually I make good progress and the rest of the project falls into place.

March 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- What a great use of the get you activated to start. I love that idea! It's funny because I use a timer to tell me when to now. It's going to ring in a few minutes to say,"Linda- time to move on to your next thing." I love using sound as a way of cueing me for next. I like how you figured out where your sticking point was and a great strategy for moving you past it. So smart!

March 2, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Letting go. One of the hardest but most neccassary things to learn in life. Sometimes letting go of that perfect plan is hard, but to move on to next we have to let go of the ideal image in or mind's eye. Our circumstances change and we may need to let go of the project, paln, or goal all together. It's hard, but oh-so freeing.

I'm trying to focus on what I'm feeling to dictate my next. Sure, there are certain things I have to do on a time frame, but allowing myself to do what feels right in the moment, most of the time, has increased the quality of my productivity. Even though my schedule says I write on Friday mornings, if I'm not feeling it I allow myself the freedom to come back to it later.

March 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Steele

I love your step about breathing deeply. I used to take a yoga class and for the first 15mins of every class we focused just on our breath; it was so powerful and grounding. I find when I revisit my belly breathing I feel so much more centered and ready to take the next step or leap or pivot!

March 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

@Jamie- Letting go IS challenging, but as you said can be "oh-so-freeing." I love how you're focusing on hearing/feeling that internal voice for guiding you to next. I can hear you letting go of the "shoulds." Nice.

@Sarah- How wonderful that you can still access what you learned in yoga...focusing on your breathing. I haven't taken yoga classes for a long time and I'd like to revisit doing so. I love how the practice can help with centering, mindfulness, and general health and well-being. Thank you for the nudge.

March 5, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thank you for this, Linda! I am stuck right now figuring out what to do next. I am going to go through all of your posts and take your advice. I appreciate it. Great timing for me!

March 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Buckwalter

Sometimes we get stalled on a project because what happens next depends on someone else, and they can't or don't follow through right away. Then three things can happen:

1) We leave it in their hands, forget about it, and nothing gets done (not productive).
2) We get frustrated because we can't move forward (not healthy or productive).
3) We look for other things we may be able to do in the meantime, make a note to follow up with the other person after a reasonable amount of time, and develop a Plan B in case they aren't able to meet the needs of the project (productive and healthy).

March 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Sarah- Wow! Glad to know that this post and others about next steps could be helpful for you right now. I wish you all the best as your thoughts simmer and percolate as you navigate next. I'd love to know which strategies end up working best for you. Keep us posted.

@Janet- I SO identify with what you wrote here. When we don't have full control over a project, there can definitely be stalls. I love what you said in step 3, which is the most positive and pro-active approach to take in this situation. Knowing how you can move things forward, even if others are involved is so important. And patience too. :)

March 6, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Love all these ideas for the next step.

I find that getting clarity on what I want is the initial first step in making any plan. Here are several of my steps that help me get clarity: spending time on a day off thinking about what I want, getting a good night's rest, processing with a trusted walking partner, and then verbalizing the outcome I want. It's not necessarily in that order, but it gives me "percolation time." After that, it's about baby steps to put the plan into action just one step at a time.

It's all in knowing what works for you that make that next step happen. I love that you are encouraging us all to think about what works.

March 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- What beautiful "clarity" boosters you've shared! What's particularly impressive is how well you know yourself and what works best for you with figuring out next. I love your list and the combination of internal and external cues for navigating the process along.

March 8, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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