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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« How to Get a Fantastic Result With Your Next Step | Top 5 Wonderful Ideas for Figuring Out Your Next Step »

5 Different Types of Next & How to Solve Them

Figuring out that next step looks and feels differently depending on your vantage point. Even with the best view, there are times when we get stuck. There are many ways to move forward and figure out what to do next. However, the type of next can influence the approach we choose.




5 Different Types of Next & How to Solve Doing Them

1. Next for the Day

It can be the beginning, middle or end of the day. You are ready to act, but you’re not sure what to start or stop working on next. Consider how much time you have for next. Do you have 15 minutes or several hours? Do you have time for doing a single task or do you have hours to accomplish a larger project? What else is on your day’s agenda? What is your energy like right now? The answers become your clues to help you find your next step.


2. Next for the Project

Projects take multiple steps to complete. Some of those steps we can do ourselves. Certain steps require feedback or contributions from others before we can complete the project. Assess where you are right now. To move forward, is there a next step you can complete on your own? Do you need to reach out to someone for his or her help, input, or contribution? Do you have a to do list? Are you keeping all the steps in your head? Will your next step be planning or action based? Getting the elements organized so you know your timeline, what needs to be done, delegated, or researched will help you figure out your project’s next step.


3. Next for a Life Transition

Maybe you’re moving, changing jobs, having a baby, getting divorced, or becoming an empty nester. These are dramatic and stressful times. You’re going into unfamiliar territory. Your routines are turned upside down. You’re hoping to find that “new normal” soon…very soon. There are so many things to handle. Surprises appear each day. You don’t know what to do next. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Take another. Exhale again. Let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling. Acknowledge and label that emotion. Take another deep breath. Exhale. Again. Face the unknown and choose next anyway.


4. Next When Clueless

When there are too many choices, too many possible directions to go in, and not a strong sense of where to head, we might say something like, “I have no clue what I want to do next.” You might be experiencing decision fatigue just thinking about making your next choice. There is nothing pulling you to act. You just don’t know what to do. You’re drawing a blank. This happens. It’s normal. Give yourself a break. Get some air. Take a walk. Shift your focus to something fun and enjoyable. Let your thoughts percolate. Let yourself relax instead of feeling pressured to do something. Very often the act of stepping away, activating our bodies, or getting outside can help clear our thoughts enough to find a way forward. 


5. Next When Overwhelmed

Overwhelm is probably the most common type of next that my clients experience. They feel so overwhelmed by the volume of things on their to do lists, the volume of spaces and areas they’d like to organized, and their time constraints, that they get stuck with figuring out next. Next seems too big, too impossible, and too far into the future. They hear and feel the noise of the volume, which prevents them from moving forward. The key here is to think small…really small. Big is overwhelming, but small is doable. Things will move forward with one small step at a time. What is the smallest action you can take? Build from there.


Have you noticed another type of next? Which of these five resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation.





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Reader Comments (13)

They all resonate with me. I love how you started small, and then worked up to the bigger picture. The beauty of "next" is that it provides a peaceful boundary for anxiety. We don't need to lose ourselves in concern over how it will all work out in the end, only where we next need to place our foot.

March 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- Such wise, powerful words..."We don't need to lose ourselves in concern over how it will all work out in the end, only where we next need to place our foot." That is so beautifully said. It speaks to mindfulness and being present for the journey.

March 9, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Another great article, Linda! The power of focussing on "next" is huge - when we're overwhelmed, in crisis, tired, or over-excited, being able to pull our eyes away from the big picture and just focus on "what's NEXT" empowers us to move ahead with confidence. I love what Seana said too!

"Next" can be about moving ahead regardless, but it's also about prioritizing. Taking the time to determine what the next logical action should be means that we're doing things in a sequence that is more likely to result in success.

I love reading your blog!

March 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie Deakin

@Stephanie- Thank you for your kind, supportive words. I'm so glad that you enjoy reading the blog. It's wonderful to "hear" your voice. What great advice you offer..."Taking the time to determine what the next logical action should be..." Prioritizing, as you said is the key. And as we know, priorities can easily shift depending on many factors (mood, energy, surprises, deadlines and more.) Will you be in Atlanta? I hope to see you then.

March 9, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

You know what really struck me? The word "next". It is very much of a forward-moving, inertia-overcoming word. The "next" thing may be just making a decision to see what could be "next". And that is progress!

March 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Terkanian

These are wonderful next steps! I know that it's sometimes hard to know what to do next particularly when feeling overwhelmed. I love what you said about taking time to breathe! When I'm feeling overwhelmed I take a green break. I go outside and play in my garden. This helps to clear my head which makes my next step easier to recognize.

March 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Susan- I love your description of the next, "...a forward-moving, inertia-overcoming word!" And the idea that focusing on next, be it a decision, a plan, or an action step IS progress. So descriptive. Love those!

@Diane- We all experience overwhelm. Knowing what we need to break through "stuck" is helpful. Breathing or taking a "green break," as you said are two great strategies. And another one is reaching out for help, which might include someone to talk things out loud with or someone to help with the actions that will move us forward. The key is pushing past that overwhelm to find clarity.

March 10, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great article as usual, Linda, I have experienced all the "next" but the hardest for me is the "clueless". In those cases I tend to step back and find inspiration in what is going on around me, if you let your mind drift from overthinking, inspiration finds you.

March 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

I find it's always best to have a "next" in mind. Otherwise, when I finish up a task or project, I waste a lot of time trying to decide what to do next instead of just getting started.

March 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Next when clueless resonates with me. I have mapped out my ideal week and have it in my outlook calendar. Whenever I feel like I don't know what to do next I take a look at my calendar. If that doesn't spark motivation I focus on what I feel like doing in that moment. Sometimes, I feel like I need a break and I allow myself the space to take that break.

March 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Steele

@Jill- The idea of letting "your mind drift" as a way to find inspiration for next is such a lovely way of framing it. Some things can't be forced. And if we allow some space, especially when we're feeling clueless about the next move, that space can provide the canvas for choice.

@Janet- That's a good point about always having next in mind. For the most part, I work this way, however, there are times when next is negotiable. There could be a choice or other circumstance that turns next into something more flexible. I wrote a post about one of these types of situations. Here's the link:

@Jaime- Your process for next, especially when you're feeling clueless, sounds like the right mix for you between intention (referring to calendar) and flexibility (considering where you are that moment). It's great to know which strategies work for you such as the one your mentioned, taking a break.

March 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great examples of "next." Each Sunday I plan out my week ahead so I know my nexts in advance. But with a toddler who's quick to nix my next, I've learned to be flexible. Thanks for giving me examples to refocus and keep moving forward.

March 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

@Sarah- Love your mixture of planning and flexibility, similar to what Jaime mentioned. I remember fondly our life with toddlers stage. There was a certain structure, but A LOT of flexibility. Our daughters taught me a lot about letting go, being flexible, but also having some boundaries. Enjoy this and every stage because it just zooms by. Now our "toddlers" are almost 24 and 26.

March 13, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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