Episode 49: The Next Step

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Episode 49: The NEXT STEP

Everyone feels stuck at different times in their lives.

Life can feel like you’re walking through a maze only to find one dead end after another.

These moments can leave us feeling insecure, discouraged, and limited. Confidence comes from certainty. It comes from knowing that you’re going to be alright, that you have OPTIONS, that you’re moving forward and not stuck.

Join me as I teach you how to keep moving, how to take that next step even when you feel like there isn’t a next step to take. I promise you, there is.

Find out the antidote to challenging times and how to feel CONFIDENT even when you don’t know what you’re doing or what the future holds.

Hey there! Welcome back to the podcast. I love that you’re here joining me today. I read something recently that I thought was interesting, it said we’ve now entered quarantine phase two. Phase one was shock, surprise, confusion, panicking and stocking up and then there’s phase two which is settling in to this “new normal”. The shock has worn off and people are getting used to things, not necessarily happy about them but adapting to them and just trying to figure out what’s next and that’s what today’s podcast is all about. Figuring out what’s next in our new phase of life. 

In my weekly, Think About It Thursday email this week – which you should all definitely be on, if you’re not, come subscribe – it’s awesome, you’ll love it! But this week I sent out my own thoughts about transitioning into this new phase.

I was reminiscing about my middle school days playing Super Mario Bros and remembering how each level was challenging, difficult, but exciting. I had a clear mission, to get to the end, to catch the flag and level up. And each time you’d level up new challenges would arise, new terrain, new objectives, instead of jumping over fireballs it was to stomp on the dragon or monster of whatever that creature was. It’s clearly been a few years. But the thing that I remember the most was that even though each level was difficult and sometimes frustrating I never once wished I could just go back to level one. 

I didn’t think, “Man, this is hard! Send me back to that easier level!” I wanted to keep moving forward. I had a mission, a goal, and a purpose. You’d never want to go back and play the “easy” levels just because this level is hard. It’s all the more reason to get back in there and try again. And yet so many of us are just waiting to be put back in the last level, the old normal.

So many of us are waiting and looking back wondering when life is going to put us back in level one but it’s not, it can’t. We’re moving forward and things are changing and we need to adapt to a new level of thinking and strategizing to be prepared for what challenges this new phase brings to us.

Gregg Braden wrote, “We’re all on a journey, and it’s a big one. Our journey is leading us to a place no one has ever been. There are no travel guides or internet trip advisors to tell us precisely what our destination looks like or exactly what we’ll need when we get there…We’re not just going to another location…we’re going to another world hidden within our everyday lives – and it’s the choices we’re making today that are taking us there. 

Together we’re barreling down the fast lane of a superhighway that’s crossing the boundaries of traditional beliefs and habits of the past. In doing so, we’re also blowing right past the limits of what we thought was possible…

And as the world of the past slips away and the new one emerges (we face an) even greater crisis, one that we all face, yet which we’ll probably never read about or hear discussed in the popular media…Arguably the greatest crisis that we face in our time of extremes is a crisis in thinking. 

And our thinking is the very key to the way we deal with the needs of the emerging world. You and I are being tasked with something that’s never been done. 

We’re being challenged to radically shift the way in which we think of ourselves and our relationship to the world, and to do so faster than any generation in history has ever done before. 

Our willingness to think differently about ourselves and the world will be the key to the success of our journey…Are we willing to embrace the thinking that makes such possibilities a priority?”

— Turning Point by Gregg Braden

That’s so good. We need to embrace the journey. We need to recognize that we’re moving forward into the unknown and challenge ourselves to think differently so that we can show up confident even when the future is uncertain.

So how do we do this? How can we cultivate the kind of rock-solid confidence when our way of life, our day to days are different and constantly changing? How do we take the next step?

I want to invite you to engage in curiosity. The way to adapt, to become resilient to all the changes and newness that’s occurring is to armor yourself with curiosity.

Questions are the antidote to uncertain and challenging times.

Too often we want to focus on the how. Just tell me what I need to do. Tell me how to get through this. Tell me what I’ll need. It’s like that quote I just read about our journey. We’re trying to pack and prepare but no one knows what to pack and prepare for so we’re anxious and running around just stocking up on anything and everything. But I was to suggest to you a more helpful and useful way to prepare. 

This is to engage is more curiosity. Spend more time thinking and questioning. There’s a huge difference between stocking up out of panic and preparing mindfully.

One looks like, “I don’t what the future will hold so I better get it all but I don’t have enough money to get it all or do anything and ahh!” It’s frantic, uncertain, the opposite of security and confidence. It’s panicked and scared.

The other doesn’t know what the future holds either but it’s calm, it’s calculated. It’s taking in all the information and facts and using that as a springboard for questioning. Then from those questions, you can make sound decisions. You can move forward with more solid footing because you’ve laid the strong, sure foundation. It’s also a means to connect with Heavenly Father and get divine guidance.

Think about this, Our ability and capacity to question is an act we can turn to whenever we’re dealing with the unknown. It’s a way to turn panic into peace. 

Start here, start with:

What do we know?

What do we not know?

These simple questions act as a light that offers more insight and understanding. It’s able to act as a flashlight of sorts that  shines that light out into the unknown and when lit, you’re able to start figuring stuff out.

Too often we want to know the whole picture. We want to see it all. We want an itinerary, a schedule, we want more than the 10-day forecast  we want to know the entire year. And our brain tries looking in the distance and gets worried because no one on earth knows that far ahead so then we just indulge in confusion, worry, and fear. 

We need to narrow our scope. We don’t need to see it all or the entire staircase. We just need to know the next step. What’s the next step? What’s the very next thing I need to focus on and/or do?

Instead of thinking even for the entire week if that’s still overwhelming for you, narrow it even more. What’s the next step for today? Or even smaller. What’s the next step right now in this instant? 

You already know the answers to these. It’s probably like, dinner is in an hour. You’ll probably need to eat. Then you can work with something you know. You now have something certain to go off of. 

Trying to see and take in too much is overload for our brains and our brain will reject it. It’d rather stay in confusion, doubt, and indecision because these are known, we’ve done these feelings before let’s stay here. It hasn’t killed us, we’re safe even though we’re not thriving. Even though it doesn’t feel good. It’d rather stay there than try to evaluate the big broad unknowns. 

The question, What’s the very next step? is so powerful and will help you to gain confidence along the way. It’s going from one known to the next. It’s solving one problem, one small challenge which is doable rather than trying to tackle all of world peace in one sitting. We need to ask ourselves these important questions and be willing to break it down into doable, actionable, confident steps.

I want to invite you to think about this and how empowering this thought is: 

The ability to engage in questioning is one of our greatest tools and resources.

Think about that again: The ability to engage in questioning is one of our greatest tools and resources.

Questions lead to answers. Questions lead to light, to understanding, to planning, to security. 

How do you go from fear and insecurity to empowerment and confidence? Through your ability and capacity to question and to stay with the question.

 It’s the only way to new innovation and knowledge. It’s what’s going to help you discover how to adapt and then excel in your new terrain and new normal.

Also, be mindful of the kinds of questions you’re asking. Not all questions are created equal. You want to make sure you’re engaging in questions that will offer you the most insight. Just like two flashlights aren’t created equal and don’t offer as much light or as bright of light, questions are the same. 

Sometimes we engage in close-ended questions. These aren’t useful when you’re trying to figure things out and move forward. These questions are the  kind that can be answered with one word, the yes or no questions. 

On a trip, if you’re asking for advice of what to pack you want more than these close-ended questions. You want to ask, what’s the weather? What’s the climate? Do I need to pack for snow or the beach? The last thing we want to hear is a yes or a no. We want details, we want more insight, more information so that we can be as prepared as possible for what’s to come. 

Preparation precedes power. 

In D&C 38:3  it says, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear”

How do you prepare? By questioning what the needs are. When your mind wants to spin in, “but I don’t know what I need!” That’s a tell-tale sign that you need to narrow it in.

What do I need today? What do I need right now? What do I need for this week? These questions you already know the answers to. From here you can create an actionable plan. Actions create results. This is how you prepare. This is how you can create security instead of fear and worry.

Questions provide insight and  you need to offer yourself as much insight and information as possible. 

You need to ask open-ended questions. These are the what’s and the how’s instead of the Is and Will’s.

What do I need today? 

How can I manage the next five minutes? 

Open-ended questions. These provide insight, understanding, and security.

Closed questions are the is’s and the will’s

Is it enough? yes, no?

Will I be okay? Yes no?

Change these. There’s no insight, there’s no room for growth. It’s just a closed door. 

How can I know I have enough? Do I have enough for today? What do I need to do to make sure I have enough for this week?

Do you see the shift?

Will I be okay? Yes? No? Again a closed door. There isn’t room for the next step it just is.

So instead, open the door. Change that to What can I do to make sure I’m taken care of today? Or right now? Or in this moment? How can I honor myself right now? 

These questions provide comfort, understanding, compassion, and insight to knowing what’s next. These questions offer you a next step and many others after.

We put so much value on answers but we’re missing the value of the question, staying with the question, what the question allows us to explore.

Sometimes, most of the time we just want the easy answer. Just tell me. I don’t want to figure it out, I just want to know exactly what’s going to happen so I can move on. And when we think this way we’re missing out on the best part, the most growth, the becoming.

There was a quote I read a while back that read, “There are years that question and there are years that answer”.

Sometimes the most growth is simply when we allow ourselves to sit with a question. Instead of rushing to a quick answer, just letting your mind sit with it and explore all the different facets of it. When we do this it opens new doors and propels you to a new platform that you wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise.

The next step isn’t just a tell me what’s next, it’s part of the journey, it’s engaging in curiosity, questioning, it’s figuring out what’s the next step specifically for you.

Questioning is such important and a huge component of the work of growth, progress, and learning. It’s the only way to grow and adapt. It’s the key to resilience and becoming.

The more you allow yourself to sit with the questions the less scary the questions will be. Sometimes we don’t want to ask the questions because we fear the answer. Instead of shying away from that, sit with it, be curious about that, why am I afraid? Stand back and observe yourself. Be interested in and curious why your brain wants to offer you that, to offer you fear. Curiosity trumps fear and curiosity feels so much better than fear.

Confidence comes from three components: Knowing yourself – all the parts of yourself – the parts of yourself that are scared to ask the question because they’re more scared of the answer. Don’t shy away from this, try to look deeper, be interested and curious about yourself, why you think that way, and what your brain is offering you. Get to know yourself in every detail possible. 

The second component is to embrace all those parts of you. I’m feeling afraid and it’s okay. I’m thinking this and instead of shaming yourself that you shouldn’t think that, that you should be doing something different, that you should….etc. Just embrace all of it. You can tag, “and I love you anyway” 

Part of your preparation is going to be getting to know yourself and embracing all your humanness.

The last component is being able to trust yourself and in your abilities. This trust doesn’t mean that you have all the answers and that you’re proficient at everything, that you’re good at everything already. It’s knowing that you’re going to take care of yourself, that you’re going to be okay no matter what. That you’re not going to give up or give in, that you’re going to honor yourself and take care of you.

That’s confidence. Confidence isn’t, “I’m amazing at this so I feel confident”. Confidence is stepping into the unknown not knowing what’s ahead but knowing, deeply knowing that you’re going to be okay no matter what. 

We don’t know what the future holds and we don’t need to. We have everything we need on hand right now. 

We need curiosity, to ask questions, a willingness to sit with the questions and above all confidence that you’re going to be okay. How do you know you’re going to be okay? Because you’ve got you, because you’re going to figure it out, whatever it is. 

Human beings are so resilient. We’ve overcome everything that’s come our way and we will continue to overcome because of our ability to ask, “what’s next?” And stay with that long enough to come up with an answer they can feel confident about.

Remember, any question is a good question – don’t judge them, don’t criticize them. You want questions to flow in all directions. This is how you’ll be able to shine a light on all the unknown areas. 

Practice strengthening your capacity to question by engaging in curiosity and questioning daily. James Altucher talks about this concept of strengthening your idea muscle I think that’s what he calls it. He has a ted talk that I recommend as it’s so insightful and in that talk which I can reference in the show notes, he tells us that if you got in an accident and had to be on bed rest for just 2 weeks your muscles would atrophy and you’d need physical therapy. Just 2 weeks.

Imagine then what happens when we’re not strengthening our mind and our ability to question and problem solve. He suggests which I’ve adopted and loved doing the practice of writing down 10 ideas a day. Just pick a topic and write 10 ideas and /or questions a day. Some aren’t going to be useful and pretty lame but some are going to be brilliant and you can’t get to the brilliant without others as well. 

Start with your questions. You open-ended questions and then challenge yourself to sit with it to come up with a minimum of 10 possible solutions or insight into those questions. What do you think would happen if you simply asked the question, “What can I do to prepare today?” Every day for a week or a month even? You’d have at least 310 ideas and possible next steps. That’s impressive, right? 

When you give your brain a question it will go to work finding the answer. Test this theory, try it, see what amazingness happens because of it. I promise you, it’s a powerful practice and one that will serve you well all throughout your life.

Another suggestion to opening your options even wider is to take the question and expound on it. 

I read a biography of Mr. Rogers, Fred Rogers and how he’d create his script for each show. He’d take one question and then he’d expand on it by asking more questions until he came up with the most thoughtful and articulate of questions for his audience. It was really incredible to see how he’d come up with these very thoughtful questions.  

He had a 9 step process to expanding and articulating his questions and script and he’d rephrase the question or idea 9 times before coming up with a very thoughtful intentional deliberate question.

This practice is powerful for us in exploring what our next step could be, in uncovering what potential possibilities are out there for us.

Some ideas are:

“State the idea you wish to express as clearly as possible

I don’t know what to expect

“Rephrase in a positive manner,”

Is it good to always know what to expect?

Rephrase the idea again

Why do I need to know what to expect?

What if I didn’t need to know that?

If I don’t need to know what to expect then what do I need right now?

What can I do in this moment?

What kind of a person do I want to be in this moment?

What would that person do or think in this moment?

What would that person feel right now?

What do I need to think to create that feeling for me right now?

Right there you have 10 ways to ask that question, 10 ways to answer that for you, 10 different possibilities for you to embark on to create a solid, confident foundation for you at any moment.

You go from uncertainty and fear of I don’t know what to expect to a road map, a direction, a thought, a feeling, an action that will create the results YOU want.

Do you see the power in this? You create your own how when at first you didn’t know there was one. 

The more you do this, the more light you’re able to shine on the unknowns and then these unknowns become less scary, less unknown because now you’re familiar with them. Now they’re not unknown at all but like old friends.

One of the most impactful things we can do is to simply turn each statement into a question. Take each sentence and just add a question mark. Try it. See how powerful that is. 

I don’t know what to expect.

Turns into, “I don’t know what to expect?”

Remember, your brain is always trying to solve a problem. Any thought you think it’ll go to work finding evidence to prove that thought true. It does this on a subconscious level so the more you deliberately guide it and ask intentional questions the better the answers and insight. 

When I think, I don’t know what to expect it’s going to find examples and evidence to back that thought up. That thought feels insecure, uncertain, and scary. I’m going to create more uncertainty for me.

Whereas the question, “I don’t know what to expect” will find evidence for this. Which would you rather have spinning in your mind?

Learning to lean into curiosity can be a saving line especially at a time when things are so new. When the journey that everyone is on hasn’t been tread before.

Questions are the ticket to your exploration, understanding, and progression.

The next step will always be lit and paved for you. All you have to do is ask the question.

Okay, my friends. That’s what I’ve got for you this week. I hope you practice this and start seeing and feeling how comforting this practice is.

We do a lot of questioning in the membership that I highly recommend joining. There’s so much to learn and explore that will all help you create a solid, empowering life.

Come over to members.thecatalystcoaching.com and join me. Especially now! This will transform your world for the better!

Talk to you next time!


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