How to figure out what's next

I'm finally reading The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. I say finally, because I've been recommended it so many times I get the feeling the universe is trying to tell me something. Okay, I'm listening!

In his book, Ferris describes a conversation between a customer and an American business owner living his dream running an extreme sport company in Brazil.

"I wish I could do what you're doing," the customer says.

His answer: "You can."

Since the moment I announced my next adventure -- moving from DC, house sitting in Manhattan, decluttering with my parents, and now a cross country book and hug tour (this is coming to you from the great state of Wisconsin as a matter of fact!) -- I've had similar conversations.

Maybe you've wished you could go on your own adventure, too.

If so, ditto. You can.

Don't believe me? You're in good company. Before the words "You can" leave the air, most people are quick to explain why they can't.

It's not the right time.

I don't have enough money.

So-and-so won't let me.

I will, but not now.

I won't reiterate Ferris' entire book, so suffice it to say that those responses are completely normal, and are designed to keep you in a safe, comfortable place for as long as possible.

If you don't want to, I'm not going to drag you.

However, if you really do wish to do something different, then it's time to stop the excuses and start.

Starting doesn't mean throwing your entire comfortable life away. It means making an incremental choice, then another, and then another until you've moved on almost without realizing it.

Stephanie Vessely wrote about that in her guest post about feeling stuck. The small leaps that add up to big ones.

One of the responses I hear, and that Stephanie expressed, is I don't know what to do next.

The easiest, fastest way to figure it out is to start with what you DON'T want to do.

If I asked you what you want for dinner, you might know that you don't want pizza. That alone helps us weed through options.

If you want to go on your own adventure, but don't know what that is yet, first make a list of everything you don't want.

The list can get lengthy. I don't want...a lot of things.

The more clarity you have around what doesn't work, what could suddenly comes into focus. You're doing the same weeding out of options as if we were ordering dinner.

Next to each item on the list of what you don't want to do, draw an arrow and write down why.

You will then have two lists:  what you Don't want, and clues for what you Do.

If you don't want pizza, that would go on the Don't Want list. The Why (Do Want) list then could say it's because you don't feel like Italian. Or that you had pizza last night and you want a meal you haven't eaten in a while.

Knowing those helps us see what you'd like instead. Same goes for your career, and relationships.

From there, you can limit things in your life that are on the Don't Want list, like Stephanie did. You can also flesh out the Do Want list even further.

These lists are Starting.

You really do know what you want, and you really can go after it. This one exercise is a giant step in the right direction.

What's next for you?