“All we need to do is get through this next right thing.”
If I had $1 for every time I’ve said that over the last few years. Our lives have been such a journey of ups and downs. I know everyone has their struggles, I feel like we’ve had more than our fair share. It always feels like one thing after another- and it has for years. I have had some people speak into my life about that lately- but that’s to talk about on another day.
A Welcome Change of Perspective In One Sentence
In 2016 life felt like it was crashing in around us after my husband got laid off. I started using this phrase. How I wish I’d started saying it years before. It has really, truly changed my outlook and perspective.
Last summer as we battled homelessness, severe health issues, faced bankruptcy and so much fear- I clung to this. Every day when my husband left for work I would remember it was his next right thing. Every day as I hauled my gear halfway across a campground to cook, I had to remind myself it was the next right thing. As I got backed up on work and had to quit for a time, I had to remember it was my next right thing. When I felt consumed by a list of all the things I WASN’T doing, and COULDN’T do, i had to focus on that next best decision.
This was our go-to phrase as we renovated the Airstream. It’s been our go-to phrase as we battle my health issues. Now as I find myself as a full-time working from home, homeschooling Mom facing yet another Hashimoto’s crash- I use it every 25 minutes.
Work Through the Day 25 Minutes At a Time
Why every 25 minutes? Because my day revolves around the “Pomodoro method.” I’ll talk about this more in the future, but you work in 25-minute cycles with 5-minute breaks in between. Every 4 cycles you take a longer, 15-minute break.
At the start of each 25-minute cycle I think “What’s my next right thing?”
Sometimes it’s getting a job done for a client, sometimes it’s knocking something off the To Do list. This week, it’s been a lot of self-care, saying no, sunshine, and movement. I found out my thyroid labs are just about as bad as they’ve ever been, I got some other lab results back that are concerning and am having some strange symptoms. My homeopath and ND are trying to figure out if it’s a healing thing or if I have something else going on. I’m working through each day focusing on my next right thing- one thing at a time.
Life becomes much less scary when all I have to focus on is my next “right thing.” It takes my massive To Do lists and makes them seem manageable. It makes the days where depression or anxiety try to steal my joy much more life-giving.
When I focus on the next right thing I give myself permission to do things that feed my soul. I give myself permission to sit out in the sun for half an hour and watch my kid ride his bike. I give myself permission to get back into hobbies I thought I had lost for good. I give myself permission to send that email to my work team and say “I’m not doing well, I need to take a break.”
Stress and Trauma Won’t Claim My Mind Anymore
Since 2009 we have had at least one major trauma and/or transition a year. Most years it’s been more like 3+. In 2015 my thyroid started freaking out. I’ve since realized that stress is my #1 trigger for my autoimmune issues. I can control my diet, I can control my sun exposure, I can control my exercise- I can’t control the stressors that come my way. It’s just life.
What I can control is how I respond to stressors. For far too long, I’ve let them consume me. I’ve let them steal my joy and lock me in a place that is not good. When I focus on the next right thing, I realize I need to focus on ME more often too. I realize that sometimes my next right thing is going to be extremely difficult to do, but it has to be done.
Confirmation in A Podcast
A few months ago I asked on my Facebook page for podcast recommendations. A friend suggested a Podcast by Emily P. Freeman called “The Next Right Thing.” I broke into tears knowing this podcast existed. I had no idea what to expect so I hopped over to Stitcher and downloaded the first few episodes.
They are so incredibly life-giving. It’s giving me more actionable steps for a phrase I’ve used all this time now. I’m finding renewed motivation to write and pursue my passions. I’m realizing that I’m not the only one out there who struggles with shutting down in moments of stress.
I don’t even know how many people I’ve suggested the podcast to. I never would have even imagined I’d be here writing about a podcast. It’s like she stepped into my life and saw what I needed to do to make it better. Focusing on the next right thing, and listening to this podcast, is incredibly life giving. I don’t say this often, I wish it could be required listening for all people. Start on episode 1 and listen to them in order
This afternoon my Next Right Thing was sitting in the sun and listening to the podcast. My health is struggling, I’m busy with work, homeschooling, personal classes, Airstream life, health, family, friends, etc,… loving it all but busy nonetheless. To outsiders it may seem like a terrible idea when I’m this busy to sit in the sun and listen. We all need to do things that feed our souls. After living through so much trauma, sickness, and fear- I am learning to give myself permission to relax and reflect. I pray you can give yourself that permission too.
I share this with you, sweet readers, to encourage you.
If you’re in a season of transition, sickness, busyness, need a change, or you simply get overwhelmed by a To Do list- try focusing on your next right thing.
All you need to do is think about one task at a time… seriously. You can’t do more than one thing at a time well (multitasking is a myth). Silence the notifications, put away that voice of “you should be doing…” and focus on what is best for you. It may not look like what the rest of the world would think is right, and that’s ok. Nurture you, nurture your next right thing. It’ll help get you through the punches life throws your way.
As Emily P. Freeman wishes her podcast listeners, so I wish to you-
“I hope to provide you with a space to discern your next right thing in love.”