Throughout my life, I’ve been a consistently indecisive person. After college, I decided to study Creative Writing in South Africa and then changed my mind and studied the art of going out to eat in Ghana instead. I decided I was going to Harvard for graduate school, got admitted, and then freaked out and tried to defer my admission so I could work for a few years. Earlier this year, I declared I was moving to France, and then decided not to go. I joined Weight Watchers and quit after only a few meeting (it works though, y’all). Left to my own devices, I’m very good at making decisions—or what I think are decisions—and then taking a u-turn away from that very same decision and deciding on something else—and that something else isn’t always what’s best for me but often what feels easier in the moment. It’s exhausting making declarations and then retractions. It’s wearisome to start over, again and again. However, I’ve recently encountered an idea that has helped me tremendously as I make decisions large and small. It’s not an idea that I came up with or that anyone living can claim they came up with, but—but it is an idea that I think can help anyone and everyone. It’s an idea I want to understand and practice more, and it’s an idea I want to spread. All of this makes for a great recipe for an impactful book, so read on and learn more…
Whenever I don’t know what to do next, rather than brainstorming, making a list of pros and cons, or posting about it on Facebook to get the opinions of the social mediasphere, I just ask God (feel free to substitute the word “God” for “The Universe,” “Higher Power” or whatever makes you feel comfortable):
God, what is the next right action for me to take?
And when I ask that question, I mean it very literally. Often, the answer is: Take a deep breath. Drink a glass of water. Stretch your legs. (As a writer, I sit in front of a laptop for hours on end without it ever occurring to me to give my body parts a chance to do what they were created to do.)
Other times, the answer to my simple seeking is:
Do your laundry. Reply to that email you’ve been avoiding. Eat lunch. Take out the trash. Call your mom back.
Over the last seven months, I’ve slowly (and often a bit painfully) started to live my life not by a five-year plan or even a five-month plan but a moment by moment plugged-in-to-Spirit seeking of what I should be doing now and what I should be doing next.
The idea of taking the next right action has helped me feel balanced, generous, connected, and happy in the past seven months that I’m pretty sure that my second book is going to be all about this idea. I even bought the domain name TheNextRightAction.com, which isn’t actually saying much since I own dozens upon dozens of domain names. (Some might call me a digital hoarder. I prefer “entrepreneurial, acquisitive wordsmith.”)
I want to write about this very simple concept and how it can be applied to all areas of our lives and in every moment. Any time we are feeling irritated, discontented, disconnected, lost, confused, or out of sorts, we can stop, take a deep breath, turn inward and ask, “God, what is the next right action?” Then, be still and listen for an answer. Next, be willing to take that action. Finally, take the action, and start all over again.
Each moment of being fully present and each surrendered decision we’re willing to make, we can apply this profoundly simple yet effective idea to journey our way into:
- the next right job—or even the next right career
- the next right relationship—or the next right stage of a relationship
- the next right meal
- the next right purchase
- the next right city
To add a bit of mystical glitter-juice to this post, I will share a story that happened just moments before I wrote this piece. To provide some context, over the past several months, I have been trudging through and groping my way out of the dark forest of some pretty gnarly writer’s block. However, I’m newly committed to showing up to the page even if I feel like I have nothing interesting, valuable, or publishable to say. I’m willing to sit and write even if I feel like doing something else. For weeks—maybe months—now, I’ve felt compelled to start writing about “the next right action,” to answer people’s questions related to this concept, and to really get started on my second book of the same name. However, I’ve also encountered an astonishing amount of capital R Resistance. Tonight, in one last attempt to defy writer’s block by writing a new post but still wanting to hold on to my own willfullness and not have to write the inevitable “this is what (I think) my second book is going to be about” blog post, I said, “Tonight, I’m going to write about whatever I flip open to in this book. Whatever it is, I promise that this is what I’m going to write about tonight.” For the last few weeks, I’ve been glued to Julia Cameron’s three-book compilation The Complete Artist’s Way, and don’t you know, this is the paragraph I flipped open to and landed on [emphasis mine]:
So much of an artist’s career hinges on the sense that we are going somewhere, that we are not just trapped by four walls of wherever we are. For creative sanity, I must believe that if I just do the next right thing, a path will unfold for me. I must believe there is a divine plan for me and my work.
And there you have it. You can’t ask for a clearer sign than that. As soon as I read that paragraph, I wrote this post and knew that the decision had been made astonishingly clear. I had my mission if I chose to accept it.
So now we have the title of book #2: The Next Right Action. Though my goal is to write at least 27 books, I have a strong desire to have a sense of order to which books get written when (though I’m realizing this may not be my decision to make). It has become undeniably obvious to me that the next right action for Kaneisha the Author is to write The Next Right Action. I’m not sure what the format will be, how long it will be, or when it will be done. But I am willing to start, and to keep starting every day until it is done. And so it is. Amen.