Life is not always about what happens next, but rather what happens next/next.
Good and bad things happen to all of us. A decision at work does not go our way, or maybe a doctor delivers news about a life-changing medical condition. On the other hand, perhaps we are receiving end of an aunt leaving a few thousand dollars following her passing, or you finally earn the advanced degree years in the making.
Life is not always in what happens, but more so in the ones immediately following.
A couple of years ago, our daughter discovered herself diagnosed with a chronic health condition altering the course of her life. After doctors warned the long hours and high levels of stress baked into her career field would be the wrong prescription for successfully managing her health, she sat deflated.
Long years of dreaming evaporated before her eyes – and she took it hard.
But what happened next/next is where she truly succeeded. After a good cry to three, she created a dedicated social media thread, sharing what she was learning about her condition as well as her personal journey. Photos of her in hospital beds or medical supplies spread out across a table began to connect with others of her situation. A community of individuals thirsty to learn – not pity each other – sprang up from social media feeds. And as she helped others, followers paid forward with suggestions and tips they’d gleaned. Without knowing it, our daughter discovered the same media skills she was developing for her targeted career allowed her to see a higher purpose to her condition while helping others.
And as a parent, I could not be more proud.
But she is not alone. Bad things happen all the time. But often, the real damage occurs after one lets the impact derail the one inside of them. No event or action should be allowed to become the ending result rather than another bump along the road to tomorrow. The next/next step we take is most times the most significant predictor of whether we allow the moment to define us or become only another dent in our armor.
My mother died when I was young. I loved her with all my heart. But her passing, as close to my emotional center as it could be, was not an excuse to negatively impact my long-term direction in life. What would happen next/next, I figured out, would determine my longer-term outcome. In such a journey, days become months, months become years, and years become decades until you finally create a lifetime of experiences. My mother did not expect, nor would she wished, for my life to end the day hers did. Instead, she would have wanted me to rise and take her spirit forward into the world and become the best me I could create.
Next/next is a process you adopt and repeat your entire life. And having the courage to do so will make all the difference in life.