Whether it’s building a business, finding a job, creating the life you really want, the best advice is “Do the next thing.” Too often, we do one thing and stop. Then we wait for the reaction on that thing–the email or phone call expressing interest, the dreaded form rejection letter, the suggestion that a prospective client wants to hear more.
Doing it that way means you spend a lot of your time waiting for what someone else may or may not do. Waiting is a passive process. So you lose momentum. And you feel less effective because…well..nothing’s happening while you are doing all that waiting.
In other cases, you capitalize on one opportunity and call it good. The chance to speak to a group or have coffee with someone who’s willing to mentor you. Instead of using that as a springboard for doing more things, we consider ourselves done once we’ve written the thank you note.
Why do we do this? I think it’s because it’s easier to handle life in little tidbits–to do one thing and then…well….rest. The problem with this approach is that you start from the point of inertia every time and have to work up the moxie to do that one thing again and again. You have to talk yourself into it and then get yourself going over and over.
If you look for the next thing with everything you do, you don’t have that acceleration challenge because you’re already moving. You don’t have to talk yourself into it because you’re still finishing the last thing so you’re already in “do it” mode.
But even better, those “next things” can hold some pretty fun magic. A year ago, a career counselor on the other side of the country contacted me about reviewing my book on her blog. Of course, I was delighted to send a review copy, and she did a wonderful write-up of what I had to say. End of story, right?
Not really. After I thanked her for the review, I decided I needed to check out her website more thoroughly. Among the many things she offers there were links to TV shows she’d done interviewing people who had switched careers after 50 and were thriving. One interview in particular intrigued me, and I asked her to e-introduce me to that person. She graciously agreed.
Then the “next thing” was to contact him. When I did, I discovered he was looking for experts to write for his web-based business. In particular, he was looking for somene to cover the business perspective of employing older workers. That’s an angle I’d been trying to find a way to work for a year. Perfect. And that was it, right? Nope.
The next thing? Well, there were two. Through that contact I met another expert who’s focused on people who start their own businesses after 50. That gave me another angle from which to promote better use of our “retirement” years, another way to expand my knowledge base, and one more platform for increasing my visibility.
The second thing? I got a request to be a keynote speaker for a conference on the topic because of the articles I’ve been writing from the business perspective.
Here’s the point: None of these opportunities would have developed had I not gone beyond “thank you” with the woman who offered to review my book. Stopping at the first thing means you’ll miss a lot of opportunities.
Doing the next thing gives you a sense of both control and movement. Those are both vital and rare.
Do the next thing no matter what you are trying to do. Go beyond what has to be done. Look for what else might be worth the effort. It will increase your chances of success dramatically. And it will be more fun than waiting for the phone to ring or the tone that announces a new e-mail to chime on your computer.