Deb Sofield


When Unsure, Take the Next Logical Step

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Last year I spent a lot of time encouraging you to chart a new course and get out of your comfort zone—learn to live the life you imagined and were born to do, big and small things, to move you down the path of life that would bring joy in big and small ways.

Life is short, and I fully believe you have to take the reins and get going or you’re going to miss out on some great opportunities or someone else will take your space, maybe while you’re sitting around waiting. You may even lose interest and then you’re back to square one with no action having been taken.

Refusing to move or never moving equals dying, my friends, and that is why it is important for you to chart your course—write it down, tape it to the wall, spend an hour each week just thinking about where you’ll go next. Keep your plans handy and your dreams alive, and don’t worry if you need to make some corrections along the way—that’s okay, just keep moving. If you have to redirect your course or make changes, don’t worry; at least you’re moving in the direction of your dreams, and moving is better than standing still. Listen, you need to make something happen instead of wondering, “What just happened?”

I will always believe that the best way for you to find success is to start; in fact, they say that start is the hardest word you’ll come across when you’re planning, because you can get caught up in planning for months on-end, but planning (while it has its place) is just the first step in a thousand to get you to where you’re going or where you should be going.

So after the planning is done and you feel comfortable enough to take the next step, what happens when you don’t know what to do?

Believe it or not I hear that lot. Well, Deb, I started down a path that seemed right, but now I’m stuck, not sure what to do next?

Or I get the other conversation that makes me crazy, which is, Well, I’m waiting to know what to do. Now that’s fine, until you’re waiting passes one month, then another and then another, and then you have to admit you’re not going anywhere. Ah, friend, you’re stuck. Then there are others who honestly admit they are afraid to move—they don’t like change, no matter what the cost. They would prefer to stay where they are since they know the surroundings and feel secure there.

I get it, feeling secure is important, but please don’t limit your future because of your fear—the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure or the fear of being alone and doing it by yourself.

So let’s think about getting past your fear and moving in the right direction, and here is what I want you to remember, when you don’t know what to do, just take the next logical step.

Believe it or not, it is that easy—just take the next logical step. I didn’t say do something rash or without thinking or something that would cause harm. Use your God-given talents and brain and trust your instincts, and then take the next logical step.

I want you to know you can trust that there is always a next step. Now you might have to muster the courage to take it, but, trust me, there is one there—you just need to step out on faith and, using your ability and logic, take the next step.

Over the holiday I re-read a book a dear friend had given me called The Red Sea Rules, and in the book there is a chapter that deals with stepping out on faith, and there is a line that I love—it says this. “Plodding is better than plotting,” meaning that moving slowing and steady in a right direction is so much more valuable than trying to take a shortcut to circumvent the process.

If you’re like me, you want to get it done and move on to the next big adventure, and while sometimes that works more often than not, if I had just slowed down and really thought through my plan, I might have saved myself some heartache, or at least some money.

Over the years I have developed a very good internal compass. I know when I’m straying off course and can usually re-direct myself to get back on track. I can just tell when I’m (as they say) out of sorts, meaning that I will sometimes say to myself, “Okay, what is bothering you?” and within a few minutes my subconscious will gently bring the issue to light, so I can deal with it. Now I have not always been like this, but as I’ve gotten older I am more aware of how I feel about situations.

So when I find myself stopped or struggling with issues that should be easy, I make a list of what is bothering me and then I work the list backward to answer, correct or re-direct what needs to be done.

I am not sure how you do it, but I encourage you to slow down enough to listen to your subconscious; you have it for a reason, so you might want to listen to it once in a while. From experience I can say that I doubt it will ever lead you in the wrong direction.

So when you don’t know what to do, do this simple exercise:

  • What little steps can you take right now to address the issue? Think about what small steps you need to take to find the answer. It may be as simple as the phone call you need to make—go ahead and make it, and then put the issue to rest.
  • It may be you need to grab your calendar for the year and make some appointments. It might be that you need to simply make a decision and stick with it so you can put the matter to rest.
  • Whatever it is, take the next logical step and see what doors open or close for you, but at least you’ll know the answer.

In his book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie tells the story about a young medical student who was very nervous about his career and the future, and over time he worked himself into a nervous breakdown, and, as he was recovering, he came across the words of the author, Thomas Carlyle, that changed his thinking and his life forever. In fact, the statement that he took to heart allowed him to prosper and grow. He later became the most famous physician of his generation. He organized the John Hopkins School of Medicine at Oxford and he was knighted by the king of England. His name was Sir William Osler, and these are the words he read: “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”

Think about that. “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”

What I find is that many people waste days, months and even years straining to see “what lies dimly” at a distance, so much so that they lose the joy in what could happen in the moment.

I believe we’d all do better to do what lies clearly at hand, and the way you do that is by taking the next logical step and seeing where the path may lead.

So I wonder with your new year’s resolutions fresh on your mind, what are you doing to make movement forward in your life? What issues big and small are you going to tackle this year to make this the best year of your life?

If you remember, my show from last week was about my new year’s resolution to rest more—to finish the projects I had started, and then to stop and not take on anything else this year, because this year, 2015, is a year of rest and rejuvenation, a chance to catch up on all you’ve been working for so your mind, body, soul and spirit can be brought back to life with renewed energy to continue the journey.

If you’re unsure and wondering what to do next, have faith and go ahead and trust that the step will be there when you do your part and make the first move. When you don’t know what to do, just take the next logical step, and stand back and see what doors and windows of opportunity will show themselves clearly to you. Remember, your main “…business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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