What to Do When the Next Step Feels Impossible
I hear this a lot…
“I’d start if I only knew what to do next.”
It comes up too often, in fact.
Sometimes it feels like progress is impossible.
Like every distraction was designed for me.
As if the only thing in the world you can’t think of is what your next step should be – and how to possibly get yourself to take it.
When you’re first starting out, this can feel like a massive weight – heavy and debilitating. It can put you well beyond overwhelm, at times approaching panic.
You can’t possibly see how you’d get from here to there.
You’re staring up a 15,000 foot mountain and you only just laced up your boots.
You’re trying to make that first dollar in the business you hope will one day replace the six-figure income you slaved a decade or more to earn. An idea you think just might provide for your family and keep them safe, happy, loved and supported – one day…
Maybe you’re stuck on the first few sentences of the book you keep telling your publisher is almost done.
Or you’re writing line one of the launch post for the blog you’ve been planning to start for years.
Or you’re finally saying “I quit!” to the job you know isn’t you.
Here’s the reality: This. Is. Normal.
Stop fearing you’re alone in these massive challenges. Because you’re not. Not even close.
So then why does everyone make it seem so easy? Instead of openly sharing the struggles and seeking guidance from others, people put on an act and puff their chests out like they have it all figured out.
Except they don’t.
I’m beginning to think no one does. And that’s okay. That’s part of the party.
There’s a reason why study after study has shown that the majority of people feel noticeably less happy after checking Facebook. Because it makes you feel everyone else’s life is so damn perfect. The problem is that’s completely inaccurate. Not even close. I don’t care how glamorous the status updates or blog posts that fill your inbox seem (except hopefully this one). 😉
The emotional swings of pursing a life you care about – and doing work that actually matters – are intense. There’s no getting around it, whether it’s building a business, changing careers or simply being true to who you know you are. It’s going to be rough.
And as it turns out, this isn’t just for beginners. We all feel it.
I feel it off and on all the time, and occasionally I even feel a little crazy (just ask my wife…).
I often feel paralyzed when I think of what to build next.
I get lost in the details, in the planning, in the decisions.
I’m weighed down by the pressure of keeping up with what I’ve built. In managing a business I never really expected to have to manage.
Sometimes I get scared that it’s all going to disappear. Paranoid that a small hiccup here and there is an indication that things are starting to unravel.
I wonder how I can possibly get from today to my vision for the next 10 or 30+ years. And all this creates stress. It can make me anxious. I’ll feel it in the top of my gut or in my jaw, and it can be frustrating as hell.
But we so easily forget…
That the reality we’re living in now is probably not one we could have dreamed up only a few years ago.
We forget to appreciate the progress. We get accustomed to it without knowing. Expectations adapt. And the swings continue.
Today’s post is as much for me as it is for you – they always are. Because I know how many of you feel this way. We can get lost in ideas and frozen from action.
I believe we all feel this way from time to time. I’ve actually experienced it off and on for the past month or two, despite the outward progress LYL has made, and how easy, natural and matter-of-fact onlookers like to assume it all is.
But the difference between the Dreamers and the Makers is taking action in spite of the gremlins.
Realize that that feeling – that intensity – is an indication that you’re in pursuit of something that actually matters to you. I can’t imagine a feeling more worth leaning into. You just have to recognize it enough to appreciate it.
So, if your next step feels impossible, here are three ideas that always help me.
1. Reflect. Give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made. Take a good look at what you’ve already created (we’ve all built something) or in the fact that your mindset is developed enough to recognize that you want to make some sort of a difference. Appreciate the fact that you’re awake to what’s possible! Without that step, nothing can happen.
This is something Chelsea and I did over my birthday dinner last week, and I make sure I do it every Monday before I plan the week. I even included it on my mastermind call this morning. When we soak in gratitude and pride, we start to see options we didn’t think existed. It’s much harder for fear to take over. We all have something to celebrate.
2. Spend time with the right people. Stop trying to do things alone. Find people who have already done it, who are doing it, who want to do it – anyone you can relate to. It’s the last thing you’ll want to do when you’re feeling lost, but that’s when they’re needed most. They’ll help you see what’s next. I spent a few hours last weekend with my friend Corbett, whom I hadn’t seen for months since he lives the tough life in Mexico during the first three months of the year. 😉 I left buzzing with possibility just from trading ideas about what we’re building.
This is why we’ve invested hundreds of hours in creating our free Live Your Legend LOCAL communities – and we now have over 140 meetups happening all over the world! Find yours here. I’m going to the one in San Francisco tonight – come join us if you can.
3. Do one thing. The key to action is simple. DO SOMETHING. Anything. It doesn’t have to be the perfect next step. If it’s a next step of some sort, that’s what makes it perfect. You probably have a list of actions you’d like to take. If not, then make one. Then pick anything on it to do. Start with the easiest thing. Then the next. And the next.
Launching your product or finding your dream career is freakin’ scary. But putting your first ideas onto a page or finding one new exciting job idea is simple. It’s harmless. But that’s what builds momentum.
And Momentum Is Everything
That’s how some unknown talent ends up changing the damn world.
And that’s why the above image is my favorite card to send to people I care about. May we never forget…
“The one thing all famous authors, world class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journey’s when they were none of these.”
– Mike Dooley
The little stuff is what leads to the kind of life you probably couldn’t even dream up right now.
If we start to identify ourselves as the kind of person who makes progress, and we start to represent that to ourselves and others, we naturally want to stay consistent to that image. That’s when momentum becomes a part of who we are – no matter how crazy things get.
This path can be frightening. In fact, I guarantee it will be.
No one says it would be easy. And they shouldn’t! If they do, it’s your job to stop listening.
When was easy ever really appreciated anyway?
One thing I know – the only part that matters – is that moving forward is unbelievably worth it.
Swings and all. 🙂
That’s the beauty of our adventure here.
It’s all part of the party.
P.S. And on that note…
Live Your Legend Momentum Workshops are Coming Soon!
I know a lot of you are wondering what the next step is – so that’s our next step at LYL! This year I’ll be offering a series of live online workshops + Q&A sessions on specific topics with the sole purpose of building momentum and making progress. And they’ll be priced so all of you can afford them.
The first one will be held in a few weeks, and since about 70% of you plan to change jobs in the next year, that’s what our first topic will be: The first steps to transitioning to your dream career.
More details coming in the next couple weeks. This has been on my mind for a long time, and I can’t wait!
But I’ll need your help to get it right…
So in the comments, share your next step or tell us one thing you want covered in the first workshop. I’d love to include it!