Just Do the Next Right Thing

Image Credit: Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash


Asking "What am I supposed to do with my life?" is too big a question; instead ask "What's the next right thing?"

Unless you're one of those fortunate people who was born knowing what you wanted to be when you grew up, chances are you've had to hit re-boot at least once in your life.

We no longer live in a world where most people will only do one type of work for only one employer, live in only one city, or have only one spouse or partner.

Changing jobs, changing careers, moving across the country, and getting divorced and re-married are all part of the general realities of our current lives.

Not changing is abnormal at this point.

With all of that change, it's very easy to feel lost and confused, and to repeatedly find yourself asking "What am I supposed to do with my life?"

We live in a world that loves labels; that loves for things to be easily defined and categorized. So what happens if you've had to re-iterate so many times that you no longer know how to define yourself?

How do you step away from the intersection of LOST street and CONFUSED boulevard, and onto a clearer path?

Most of my life I've felt like failure for not being able to put the "correct" label on myself.

The need to define myself in a neatly digestible format and to find "the answer" to what I'm supposed to do with my life - as though my life was a problem waiting to be solved - has caused me nothing but stress and heartache.

I haven't enjoyed my life as much as I could have, because every time I did something and that wasn't "it" - meaning that wasn't the end of the road, that there was something else I would need to go do - I thought I had failed.

Turns out that hitting re-boot isn't a failure; it's all just part of the rich tapestry of life.

"Yes, yes it's all a rich tapestry."

Nothing is it just the way everything is it, because in the end each part belongs to the whole that is your life. (Aka - the tapestry.)

And that's why asking "What am I supposed to do with my life?" is too big a question.

Instead ask "What's the next right thing I need to do, here and now?"

The next right thing isn't about the next right BIG thing. (Although of course it might be).

It's about literally the next moment - like RIGHT NOW. What is that thing?

When you find yourself on an unknown path, at the intersection of LOST street and CONFUSED boulevard, ask yourself what you need to do next, what's your next best step?

Your next right thing is whatever the only possible answer is right now, in your present situation.

"What do I need to do next?"

Image Credit: (a)Musing Foodie

What I said to God through my gasping sobs was something like this: “Hello, God. How are you? I’m Liz. It’s nice to meet you.”

That’s right—I was speaking to the creator of the universe as though we’d just been introduced at a cocktail party. But we work with what we know in this life, and these are the words I always use at the beginning of a relationship. In fact, it was all I could do to stop myself from saying, “I’ve always been a big fan of your work . . .”

“I’m sorry to bother you so late at night,” I continued. “But I’m in serious trouble. And I’m sorry I haven’t ever spoken directly to you before, but I do hope I have always expressed ample gratitude for all the blessings that you’ve given me in my life.”

This thought caused me to sob even harder. God waited me out. I pulled myself together enough to go on: “I am not an expert at praying, as you know. But can you please help me? I am in desperate need of help. I don’t know what to do. I need an answer. Please tell me what to do. Please tell me what to do. Please tell me what to do . . .”

And so the prayer narrowed itself down to that simple entreaty—Please tell me what to do—repeated again and again. I don’t know how many times I begged. I only know that I begged like someone who was pleading for her life. And the crying went on forever.

Until—quite abruptly—it stopped.

Quite abruptly, I found that I was not crying anymore. I’d stopped crying, in fact, in mid-sob. My misery had been completely vacuumed out of me. I lifted my forehead off the floor and sat up in surprise, wondering if I would see now some Great Being who had taken my weeping away. But nobody was there. I was just alone. But not really alone, either. I was surrounded by something I can only describe as a little pocket of silence—a silence so rare that I didn’t want to exhale, for fear of scaring it off. I was seamlessly still. I don’t know when I’d ever felt such stillness.

Then I heard a voice. Please don’t be alarmed—it was not an Old Testament Hollywood Charlton Heston voice, nor was it a voice telling me I must build a baseball field in my backyard. It was merely my own voice, speaking from within my own self. But this was my voice as I had never heard it before. This was my voice, but perfectly wise, calm and compassionate. This was what my voice would sound like if I’d only ever experienced love and certainty in my life. How can I describe the warmth of affection in that voice, as it gave me the answer that would forever seal my faith in the divine?

The voice said: Go back to bed, Liz.

I exhaled.

It was so immediately clear that this was the only thing to do. I would not have accepted any other answer. I would not have trusted a great booming voice that said either: You Must Divorce Your Husband! or You Must Not Divorce Your Husband! Because that’s not true wisdom. True wisdom gives the only possible answer at any given moment, and that night, going back to bed was the only possible answer.

Go back to bed, said this omniscient interior voice, because you don’t need to know the final answer right now, at three o’clock in the morning on a Thursday in November.

Go back to bed, because I love you.

Go back to bed, because the only thing you need to do for now is get some rest and take good care of yourself until you do know the answer.

Go back to bed so that, when the tempest comes, you’ll be strong enough to deal with it. And the tempest is coming, dear one. Very soon. But not tonight. 


Go back to bed, Liz.

The next right thing.

That’s all you have to do.

And that’s enough.

Image Credit: Darius Bashar on Unsplash

*I love sharing the words of people whose ideas might cause the needle to scratch on the record of your mind (a.k.a. cause an instant shift in perception). I quote them directly as a way to promote their work, and because I couldn't have said it better myself. I do not benefit in any way from said promotion; I promote what I love because I love it.


Popular Posts