Ideas: On Taking The Next Step

Ideas: On Taking The Next Step

I just finished reading Rythem of War (Book 4 in The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson). The Stormlight Archive series has been one of the best fiction series I’ve ever read. It beautifully combines engaging storytelling with an honest exploration of the joys and struggles of being a person.

One of the primary themes in the series is the struggle to keep moving forward — to keep learning, growing, doing, experiencing, ending, becoming, and changing. It’s beautifully summarized in this quote from Oathbringer (Book 3):

“The most important step a man can take. It’s not the first one, is it? It’s the next one. Always the next step.”

This quote is a powerful reminder that life is about doing and changing. For me, many of lifes most challenging moments have been moments of inaction — getting stuck in thinking and ruminating. But I've found that one way to get unstuck is to bias to doing something. “Bias to action” as I like to say! I go for a walk, I listen to some music, I read, I talk with another person. It doesn't even have to be a next step related to my problem or project. Just doing something often helps.

More often than not, the energy of me doing something gives me energy and clarity for finding what to do next. Perhaps the action I take will be a helpful next step. Or maybe it will be an unhelpful step that will me gain clarity towards a better next step. Over time I usually find my way to the destination I was trying to get to even if I didn’t know exactly how to get there or exactly where I was headed. So next time I get stuck and stop moving forward, I will remind myself to take the next step. I trust it will get me to where I’m headed.

-Adam Zolyak