Focus on Next Steps

Many people in your life encourage or even pressure you to make decisions about who you should be and what you should do for life – what to do after high school or college. Big decisions.

How are you supposed to know? In fact, how does anyone know who or what they should be FOR LIFE? Here is some advice – instead of focusing on what to be for life, just focus on what you should do NEXT – you should know your next steps.

True Success

I heard this wise advise from the great speaker and practical philosopher Tom Morris (I recommend you read his book True Success – it’s one of the best books you’ll ever read about creating your own success). He shared that this was great wisdom his father shared with him – not to be so focused on what to be for life, but to always be watching for what to do next.

See, when you choose the general direction you want for life (working with numbers, with people, with animals, in hospitals, outside, inside, etc), you start to find your general road in life. Things on this road appeal to you and fit you. And once on this road, you start to see that a world of opportunities present themselves – all in the area of what you are good at and what you are interested in. Most of these opportunities couldn’t be seen until you decided what general direction or road is yours.

So, it is likely you don’t know what it you want for life. Good. Much of life is still a mystery – why commit to only one thing. Many people start out thinking they are “sure” about what they want only to change once they see the other options along the road. Be flexible – but know which road is for you and be flexible on that road.

Start by defining your road

Your passions and interests tune you in and out of fields – you are attracted to some. This is your starting point. You may love organization and writing, or teaching, or cooking, the arts, entrepreneurship, IT or service. Once on that road, you will tune in to new and greater possibilities, most of which you won’t know until you see them from that road. Connect yourself to those that you find meaningful and let the others go. This way you can keep choosing new and better adventures – all aligned to what you are good at and passionate about.

It seems scary to think that you have to make a decision about what to do for the rest of your life when you are in your teens or 20s. There are millions of people in their 50s and older who still don’t know what they really want to do or be. That doesn’t mean you can’t take control; you are accountable for you life and your decisions. But thinking that you have to make such a great decision drives most people your age to do nothing – or to do something someone else tells them. They give up. They let someone else decide.

Instead, find where you should land – what appeals to you – then start regularly asking yourself, “What should I (could I) do next?” So long as it is aligned to your abilities, talents, passions and interests, somewhere on that road will be your next best thing. Stay with that until something else catches your eye and moves further along on your road. Few people do one job for life. Instead, stay on your road for life, but keep changing what you choose to do on the road. Keep asking, what should I do next?