You get out of bed, pad into the bathroom, take one look at yourself in the mirror, turn around and get right back into bed. Your hair hasn't been washed in almost two weeks and you've been subsisting on cookies, chips, Coke, and Chinese food for about the same amount of time.
Your phone has fifteen unanswered text messages and five missed calls. You check it periodically but there's no energy or desire left in you to type out responses.
You're not you, that's for sure.
Do you want today to be different? Of course.
Do you know where to start? Not exactly.
You feel ineffective at best and like a complete loser at worst.
We're often unfair to ourselves, demanding Rome to be built in a day, mountains to be moved in seconds.
Not only is this unrealistic, it's unhealthy.
That has been me at various points in life. And I loathe the feelings of being stuck and ineffective. I want to be on the move - if not physically, then creatively and mentally. But what happens when everything seems to come to a complete halt and you feel you can't do anything? It's an odd space in which to find oneself. At transitional periods of life, I've been confused about the bigger picture and clarity didn't appear like it once had. I felt uninspired, depressed even.
Some time earlier this year, I came across a video of Tracee Ellis Ross explaining one of the simplest and most effective mindsets I'd ever heard. She called it doing, "the next indicated thing."
"I don't always have to know what the big answers are for my life but I can do the next indicated thing. I can get up and make my bed. I can get up and brush my teeth. I can get to my appointment on time. I can put gas in my car. I'm not big on pushing through but I am big on walking through anyway."
Her philosophy for recalibration is so simple yet so revolutionary. When you don't know what to do next, just do the next indicated thing. It forces anxiety out of the equation and supplies the calm frame within which to recalibrate.
Sometimes we begin to live such redundant lives, afraid to make a wrong move, unsure of what is supposed to come next.
We allow the fear to cocoon us into despair and sadness, which keeps us from doing anything at all.
Applying the thought of "do the next indicated thing" gently nudged me forward into completing small steps. I may not understand what is going on in my life or how to bring my vision to fruition in the next few days, but I could get out of bed. I could wash my face and brush my teeth. I could braid my hair and answer emails. I could write just fifty words of my next book draft. I didn't have to move the mountain in one day. I just had to do what came next.
I don't have to build Rome in a day. I don't have to move a mountain in seconds. I just have to breathe, recalibrate, and do the thing that is in front of me. No multi-tasking. No fretting. Just the next indicated thing. The bigger picture will reveal itself.
The mountain will be moved, Rome will stand tall in due time. And I will not have depleted myself getting it done.
Featured image via Tracee Ellis Ross/Instagram
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Originally published on September 10, 2018