“So what do I do next?”
When I hear that question, it’s probably coming from my youngest and she was probably asked to clean her room three hours ago.
My answer is always the same, as is her response:
“Do what I already told you to do.” / “But I don’t want to do that.”
Basically, like the rest of us, she is human and doing hard things is hard. Doing something other than hard things is easy and there is a wide selection of options to chose from. But at some point we want to move forward and nothing is working so we start reading books and consulting professionals and writing to-do lists because there must be some way out that does not involve doing the One Hard Thing.
But it’s just like going on a bear hunt: you can’t go over it, you can’t go around it, you can’t go under it…you have to go through.
Me, I’ve been meaning to get back to writing, for a few years even, so when it comes to procrastination, I have my room-cleaning daughter beat by a long ways. And one of the main reasons that I wasn’t writing is that I didn’t have direction, I didn’t know WHAT to write. So I didn’t write. I had a hunch that writers were supposed to write and that this step was sort of key to getting anywhere on a writing project, but sitting in your chair and facing a blank screen isn’t fun, it’s hard.
So it was, “What should I do next?” and “I will write when I know clearly what I should write about.”
Recently I decided to put my butt in the chair every morning and see what happened. I still don’t know exactly what I should write, but I have a better idea than I did two months ago when I wasn’t writing.
When I ask “What should I do next?”, I usually know the answer, or at least part of it, but I want to save that step for later, i.e., not do it. I make my action conditional: I will do the One Hard Thing when I get life in order. But the problem is that life never really does get in order, at least not to the degree that I expect.
Maybe your One Hard Thing is a habit to cultivate, maybe it’s a conversation or a confession, maybe you have to decide to face a problem, maybe you have to say goodbye to something or someone or at least temporarily lock them out of your house and draw the shades. These are the very hardest of things and so if you are scared to do it, it’s because you are not an idiot.
But what if you do the One Hard Thing now? What if you just face it like an icy mountain lake and jump in, feet first?
The hardest part is always deciding to do it with your whole body, not just your head. Once your feet launch you off that rock, it’s a piece of cake because the coldness sucks your breath away and not dying is all pretty straightforward and instinctive at that point. You will make it out of the water and you will be cold for a while, but the One Hard Thing behind you and things will start to make more sense.
Go do the One Hard Thing. I promise you will be okay; in fact, I promise you will okayer than you are today.