what next?

Posted: November 10, 2011 in Observations and Commentary
Tags: , , , , , , ,

What next?
What’s your plan?
Where to from here?
What are you going to do?

We hear these questions all the time, from every direction. They come from relatives and friends. Colleagues toss them like grenades. Strangers eavesdrop on our lives and get into the act. This relentless need to definitively establish a charted course is not only asked of us, but everyone else too. Inevitability, during almost any conversion a shift occurs and the focus becomes, “What next?”

Choose. Decide. Pick. Determine. Select. For the love of god, do something. We haven’t got all day. If you don’t make a decision I’ll make one for you. These relentless demands are designed to push us forward, to get us moving. Apparently many people believe progress only comes in the form of a defined, planned action towards an equally defined, planned outcome.

Funny how those outcomes often turn out totally different than planned, isn’t it?

This approach to life has become as commonplace as breathing. Those who wish to know our direction come from a good place, a place of noble intentions. They are concerned. But when these questions are asked the air is suddenly heavy with apprehension because you are expected to have an answer. You must have an answer. You simply must. As if having an answer in and of itself was the answer.

The next time you feel pressured to respond to the “What next?” question remember the words of Mark Twain: “I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I don’t know.”

What next’s for me? Well, I could read or write for a bit. Perhaps I’ll sit by the window and listen to the wind rustle through the autumn leaves. Maybe I’ll take an aimless walk with my camera on this mild night. Then again, closing my eyes and daydreaming sure holds tremendous appeal. My choices are deliciously varied. This much I am sure of: When it comes to “What next?” I’ll know when I know – and not a moment sooner.

  1. John says:

    Some people don’t like short answers. To them I say, ‘Oh well!”


  2. ‘I don’t know’ is a complete sentence. It doesn’t need anything further unless you want to add, ‘I’ll let you know what I decide later.’


  3. whiteladyinthehood says:

    The other day I was talking to someone whose pending “30th” birthday was coming..She said her life wasnt what she expected and by the time she turned “40” – she knew she’d have the answers, be settled, have it “all” figured out, etc. I said – “Nope – even at 40 you can still be clueless..with lots of things to figure out.” – I think I scared the hell out of her.


    • John says:

      If the great philosophers were constantly revising their worldview and rethinking their theories about “figuring it out”, the rest of us might be well-served realizing that living day-to-day may very well be The Answer.


  4. somebody says:

    Great attitude. Very few things in life go exactly as planned. I have learned that listening to my intuition is an important part of the decision-making process.


  5. joem18b says:

    I live on a small dirt road at the edge of a village. thirty years ago i moved a rocking chair out onto my front porch and announced to my family that i was done doing anything. oh, they asked me about it for a few weeks, or months, or maybe a year, but since then they’ve left off bothering me.


  6. My response to this question (I have a family that LIVES by this Q! Driven doesn’t begin to explain it lol) when it started to annoy me was:

    “I’m going to BE”

    And if I was feeling particularly bratty, I’d add “we’re human BEings not DOings, after all”..

    Which had a fabulously satisfying effect of rendering the Question-Asker dumb .. And gave you the chance to walk away stat!


  7. sparklebumps says:

    Yes, I greatly wish people would quit asking me this question because then I feel like I need to make a decision, and I may do something irreversible like join the military… or commit a felony… just because I felt the need to DO something.


  8. My epiphany came while writing one day. I was getting a lot of pressure to “do something” with my life. My answer . . .

    Lost I may yet reach my goal . . . Without finding all that I seek . . . I might still be made whole.


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