I had a great week this week. Signed up more women for Bootcamp and more clients for one-on-one coaching. So, as is our habit, I texted my girl, Stefanie, and shared the good news. Her response came back instantly, “Tell me your secret.” To which I responded just as quickly, “Do the next thing.”
Right. Do the next thing. Does your brain fire off the same snarky comment as mine when it hears “Do the next thing” or its sister in crime “Do the next right thing.”? Every time I hear that advice, my brain kicks in with, “Don’t you think I’d do it if I knew what it was?”
Well, here’s the real secret. You don’t have to know what it is. You just have to do something. So, this week, when confronted with a masterpiece of a to-do list that stretches from the top of my desk to under my chair and into the next room, what did I do? I took a deep breath and almost passed out – and then I picked one thing off the list and did it. Then I picked another and did it. And so on and so forth with plenty of stops and starts in between.
Do one thing.
And I kept doing one thing. This week, it was putting the finishing touches on Bootcamp, communicating with the women who’ve enlisted, and working on rustling up a couple of more victims participants. So I took that long and lovely list (that also exists in an app that lives in the cloud – you know the one, that little black cloud that follows you everywhere – and you can’t escape it, no matter how many times you leave your phone in the car) and kept working through it.
Which is a big deal for me. I’m the queen of writing a to-do list, syncing it up to all my platforms (see cloud, above), and then ignoring it; refusing to interact with it, like it’s that unspeakable person who came in to work with the flu. Don’t ask me why I ignore it. Maybe it’s my allergy to doing what I’m supposed to do – like using work a to-do list.
Here’s a quote that sums up my experience with to-do lists and productivity systems and doing the next thing:
What saves a [woman] is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The first time I read this quote, I grinned. The second time I read it, I groaned, loudly. Because just how many times do I have to take the same dad-gum (expletive deleted) step?
Apparently an unlimited number of times.
Here’s what I realized this week. Every time I take that step – that same step – I re-affirm that I am moving forward. That I refuse to go backwards. That I reject being stuck. That I persist.
So, in those moments when I can’t figure out what’s next, I’ve learned – by taking that same dad-gum step 3,231,467 times – to just do something. I’ll pick something off the to-do list that’s been lurking in my pocketbook for the last 3 weeks, or maybe even the one I wrote for today, and I do it.
I move forward – maybe not smoothly – maybe more like a baby who’s trying for the 37th time to take that step and tumbles on her head and gets right back up and tries it again (because babies know this rule) – and I see my progress.
Which makes it possible to take the next step.