My Simple Steps for Deciding What’s Next

“If everything you’ve done until now is just the beginning, what’s next?” –Dan Sullivan, StrategicCoach.com

This question has been inspiring (and somewhat haunting) me this year. You can apply this to every aspect of your life — personal, family and professional.

But since I rarely like to look back, it’s helped me think about what I have actually accomplished in my life. That exercise alone has been valuable.

One big reason this question has been so heavy in my life and haunted me is that over the last few years I started realizing I had accomplished everything I dreamed of doing when I was a teenager. The big goals were getting checked off. And I was left feeling somewhat lost. I’ve spent my life pointing toward big goals. And for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I had a big summit in the distance to pursue anymore. I felt as though I’d arrived on the pinnacle of my life and work and was left wondering, Now what?

For achievers, like me, I think that’s a tough pill to swallow. It’s not until I got to my version of the top that I realized it’s all about the journey toward it. The journey is about the struggle, the conflict, and the people and the stories that become legends, which makes it so valuable to me.

But my thoughts turned to what the great mountain climbers, who scaled Everest, felt as they hit the top of the world’s highest mountain. Were they lost too? Did they feel empty after the journey? I wonder if they also asked the question: What’s left? and the answer felt empty because there was no higher point to climb.

Earlier this year I watched a biography on the media tycoon Ted Turner. He said his father told him to have dreams so big it would essentially take two lifetimes to accomplish. In the lost and emptiness I felt, I understood why this might be good advice.

But this question is about reorienting our perspective …. to effectively say to yourself, Hey, all this awesomeness of accomplishment, it’s just the starting point, the beginning. You’re not done. You have more left in the tank. The work isn’t really done. You can do more. You can go bigger. You can do better. And you can be bolder with the time, talent and treasure you have.

It’s a unique way to figure out where to head next.

And figuring that out … energized me again because it gave me new direction and focus.

So here are the simple steps I took to decide what’s next in my life:

  1. Started a mind map (I use Mind Node Pro) called What’s Next?, thinking this is just the beginning and starting point.
  2. Listed everything I’ve accomplished — the big stuff — as branches off the main question. The big stuff is key, because it’s the stuff you’re most proud of and thus makes the next step about dreaming again.
  3. Once I got the big stuff out, I started adding branches off that by thinking: More, Bigger, Better, Bolder. This is especially exciting because most of the things I have accomplished once seemed so WAY off into the sky. I knew they’d take time, energy, persistence. Success was not ensured by any means. But realizing this, then dreaming of the next steps pushed me past what I now believed possible, and out of my comfort zone again.
  4. Step back to review and prioritize to find my new goals, focus and priorities. New summits to push toward.

To get you started, here are some of the big accomplishments I’ve been thinking about and applying the “More, Bigger, Better, Bolder” process to:

  • Met and married my life partner, best friend
  • Become a father (and will have another child in a couple of weeks)
  • Started and grown a business that changes people’s lives
  • Helped people blossom and bloom personally and professionally
  • Co-wrote a commercially published book
  • Become an influencer/leader in my industry
  • Become a tech influencer/leader in my city and state

As I think about More, Bigger, Better, Bolder for all those … I feel the rush of energy, passion and focus again. And new summits are starting to appear on the horizon.

This time, I’ll just try to savor the journey a tad more.

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3 thoughts on “My Simple Steps for Deciding What’s Next

  1. This is very inspiring. Just last night, I was thinking about my purpose in life and if I had accomplished it. What’s next for me? I was completely stuck on this question last night. I’m so glad your post came across my email, it’s exactly what I needed to read! Thank you and congrats on the new baby girl!

    Heather Cook-Doss

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