The Next Thing

Last week, I was having dinner with a friend of mine, a talented designer and fellow actualizer. She was telling me how she had recently simplified her approach to goal setting, with great results.

She told me she had basically given up making long term plans, and instead had begun focussing on the next thing.

The idea she was using originally came from the entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria the cofounder of Paul Mitchell. He had used this same philosophy to go from being homeless to building an incredibly successful business career.

Here is the concept: instead of obsessing about long term goals, just focus on the next thing you want to do. Something that is tangible and actionable in the current day or week.

Work only on this next thing until it’s completed. Then – and only then – think about what is the next thing after that. Then, choose something, and get to work on it.

Here’s what was most interesting to me: she said that having long term goals would often cause her a lot of stress. The vestige of the long term made her feel like no matter how hard she worked, she was never actually ‘there’. The distant horizon was demotivating.

In contrast, when she just focussed on the next thing she wanted to do in her business, she was able to get it accomplished and it also made her feel accomplished.

As simple as this idea seems, I believe it is profound. In the world we live in, the trap of constantly comparing ourselves to others or our own ideals is always there. The ability to do and be whatever we want somehow causes ambition overload.

The simplicity of the next thing is that when you finish what is right in front of you, you gain confidence and momentum right now. More than this, you can pivot easier when you are able to plan the next thing at each stage, leading to new opportunities and experiences.

For me, as a goal setter and planner, this idea is very counter-intuitive. Yet, I have been thinking about how useful and effective this approach can be for me in the future.  For this reason, I wanted to share it with you as a new way to keep focussed and to build your confidence in the here and now.

Now, onto the next thing.

(Thank you Maryam)


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