We all have some big dream, something that we want, whether we tell anyone or not. It could be to get a promotion, to find love, to get pregnant, to start a business, to lose weight, to run a marathon, to learn to love your body… it could be anything.
We usually start out our goals with the best of intentions going full steam ahead. Then we hit a speed bump. We’ve tackled motivation before, and we’ll tackle it again, but today I want to talk about the speed bump of uncertainty about the path.
It’s one thing to motivate oneself, it’s another thing altogether when you don’t know what the rest of the path looks like.
Man, have I been here… and no doubt I’ll be here again.
Let’s talk about the time I stepped back from a six figure job.
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I was coming to the end of my maternity leave and was legally guaranteed a job with my current oil and gas employer. I was making six figures, so this was no small thing. But, after rounds of layoffs, my own boss being retired among them, I knew that I wasn’t going to enjoy going back. I knew it would be sixty hour weeks, low morale due to significant layoffs, a new boss that I wasn’t super pumped about, and a role that had limited growth.
But… what was the alternative? I could opt for the payout, letting someone else who actually wanted the job keep it. That so did NOT feel like the right thing to do. What if I didn’t find another job? What if I was economically endangering my family?
But if I stayed, I knew I’d be miserable. Well paid, but miserable. My mental health would suffer, which meant my physical health would suffer, and when those two are out of whack I’m no good as a partner or a parent.
The path ahead was totally unclear.
And so, I did the next ‘right’ thing. At least, it felt right at the time. When I reached my 9th month of maternity leave, I started looking for jobs in the nonprofit sector. I applied for about five or six, got called to interview for a few of them, and one bit.
That was when I made the call. Making that one decision to put myself out there for interviews opened up a new, more secure alternative.
It’s not about knowing the path in detail. Sometimes that’s possible, but mostly you’ll hit all kinds of potholes of mysterious depths.
The key is to take the next right step. You don’t have to be certain that it will lead to a particular outcome, because if you have certainty you’re operating in a zero-risk zone, and how often is that realistic?
There is huge applicability for this, particularly, if you’re recovering from an illness or trying to improve your health. If you look at the big picture of recovery, it’s huge. It’s intimidating. It can be overwhelming. But if you break it down to the next right step, that has you focus on the here and now. Not the scary uncertain future, but the thing that you can take control of in this moment.
You know another time I did the next right thing? When I hit rock bottom with postpartum depression. It felt insurmountable, like I was not meant to be a mother, and that I would never be joyful again. The next right thing from the bottom of that pit was to ask for help. And asking for help, getting postpartum counselling, that phone call changed the course of my life and put me on the road to recovery.
Sometimes the next right thing is as simple as eating a meal that will bring you energy as opposed to draining you. Maybe the next right thing is saying no to something that you really don’t want to do. Maybe it’s taking time for self care. Sometimes the next right thing is as simple as getting fresh air when you’re having a rough day.
It can be big, it can be small, it can seem insignificant, but over time, the next right things add up.
And you might say, Victoria, I don’t know what the next right thing is.
You have this innate wisdom deep inside you. It’s been trained out of so many of us through society, what we’re told we should do, should be, how we should live… that we’ve muted that voice so many times. But it’s still there. You just have to pull back the layers, the shoulds, until you can hear the inkling in your gut of what is the next right step FOR YOU.
Until next week.