The Power of Next

Whenever I am faced with life’s uncertainty, I ask myself the following questions: Why is this happening? What can I do to make it go away? How can I navigate this effectively? What can I learn from this experience?

Being at a crossroads can be challenging when what you know to be true suddenly isn’t. The straight and expected path you are on veers sharply, does a summersault, and flings you into unchartered territory leaving you unsure of what direction you are facing. Disoriented, the task of righting yourself can seem daunting. What do I do now? What are my next steps? So many asked questions, so many unanswered responses.

The ‘not knowing’ can be fertile ground for stress, anxiety, and fear to insidiously creep into your awareness. The question then becomes, “What can be done to mitigate the fallout and find direction?”

Baby Steps

Many years ago, I took a workshop on handling change, where the facilitator asked us to do one exercise every day for the rest of our lives (a pretty bold ask!). He asked us to change one thing every day. Simple, easy tasks that gently challenge any resistance to change thinking. Drive a different way to work. If you normally put your right shoe on first, today put your left shoe on first. Please note, I tried changing hands to brush my teeth and got toothpaste all over!

The goal of this exercise is to become more comfortable with daily changes, even small ones, thereby making the bigger, more challenging ones less scary. Now, I can’t say that I do this every day, but this exercise has provided comfort for me in times of turmoil.

While this exercise can be a preemptive approach to handling stress, I also found I needed an immediate touchstone that would provide me with some reassurance in the current moment that things were indeed going to be okay, I was going to be okay, in troubled times.


That touchstone for me lies in the concept of the word “next.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes the word next this way: in the time, place, or order nearest or immediately succeeding. It even has the word “succeed” in the definition!

When life gets challenging and I have been thoroughly flung into the unknown, I boldly (and sometimes confidently) say, “Next!” out loud. This shifts my energy, focus and intention away from the quagmire I find myself in and points me in a new direction. It’s amazing how saying this one word while keeping a curious spirit and open heart can provide a sense of comfort and possibilities.

Rather than dwelling on the unforeseen changes, I choose to look toward new possibilities. I may have no clue as to what those possibilities may be or when I will experience them, but I believe I will be guided. Many years ago, I purchased a greeting card that I had framed. On the card was a quote from Emily Dickinson that says, “I dwell in possibility.” That has been my sacred mantra and has served me well.

Next is possibility. Next is hope. Next is new beginnings. Next is sewn into the very fabric of forward motion. What are my next steps? What’s the next chapter for me? What’s next on the agenda?

As we get swept away and sometimes flung by life’s changes and challenges, stand in your power and declare…


Lisa Fontanella provides digital marketing and virtual assistant services to holistic practitioners and businesses. She is the proud author of the children’s book Crystal’s Quest: An Adventure into the World of Gemstones. Lisa is a Reiki Master, holistic practitioner, and empowerment coach.