Yesterday I referred you to one of Seth Godin’s posts where he suggests one of the secrets to marketing is to do something.
I also challenged you to post something there that you intended to do for your writing and/or writing career this week.
That sort of challenge is great when we know what the next step is. But what about those times when we don’t? How do we figure out what’s next?
Here’s what I do:
Look at my list of to-dos – what’s next often becomes obvious.
Check my bank account – knowing how much money I have or don’t can clarify my mind in a hurry.
Those are the two most obvious, and probably will work for everyone, but not every time.
That’s because there’s another place of confusion, and that’s when you’ve hit some sort of a road block. One of the symptoms is that everything you used to do that worked doesn’t work any more. Another is serious discontent with what you’re doing. Another might be a longing to do something else. When you hit these patches it can take some serious introspection.
Here are some of the things I do:
Talk with my accountability partners – a couple of people, not unlike a Mastermind group, who help keep me on track. They act as both sounding boards and people who know and love me well enough to tell me the truth.
Take a hard look at undone projects – I don’t know about you, but I’m never short of ideas. I often will start something new partly as a way to get the idea written down. Some of them will never get done; others will. Looking at these projects can give me a nice hint about what’s next – particularly when one makes my heart sing. This is different from the usual to do list.
Get quiet – for me this is two-fold. I have a regular meditation practice and once I quiet my mind often realize what the next project or action should be. Of course, it doesn’t always happen, but getting quiet also helps clear my mind of the yammer-babble that is anything but clear thinking. I’ve also learned to get quiet for a moment or two before I decide what to do next during my normal working day – this pause can be delightfully revealing.
Take at least a weekend off – a real vacation may be in order. The goal here is to remove yourself from the day-to-day of your writing business and get some distance. That distance often allows what’s next to appear naturally.
Sometimes I have to do these things more than once. Discovering if a change of direction is really needed and, if it is, exactly what that is, can take some time – and it’s up to me to give it the time it needs.
How do you get clear about what’s next?