THE NEXT RIGHT THING
A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions
By: Emily P. Freeman
Published: April 2, 2019
Three summers ago we started an addition on our home. The work started while we were on vacation and continued into the fall. It was hard because it was during the summer when all of us were at home during the day and most of our main floor was under construction. The decisions about where to put our current living items, how to cook meals, and of course, all the decisions about flooring, paint, windows, landscaping, etc were overwhelming. I remember saying to my husband at one point that I couldn’t make any more decisions.
We all have decisions to make every single day. Which outfit to wear, what route to take to our job, what things to do on the to-do list, or what to cook for dinner. But there are also those big life decisions that pop up every so often….do I accept the job offer, should I go to college or start working, should we move away from our family for a new experience, can I afford to buy this house, is it the right time to start a family? All of these decisions can be difficult to make and if you are like me, you get out your pen and notepad and make a pros/cons list. But, Freeman takes the decision making process a step further. She helps those of us with decision fatigue or those of us who need to make big life-altering decisions with clearing the murky waters. She lays out the process for finding peace in making the decision that is right for you and right for that moment.
In THE NEXT RIGHT THING, Freeman helps you do just that. She encourages you to “do the next right thing.” That next right thing can be small or large, but doing it gets you closer to making the final decision. Each chapter offers a way to look at the decision at hand in a new way, closing with a prayer and a practice. She offers support for making decisions from the Bible. Freeman shares personal experiences and stories that offer insight for making these suggestions a new habit in decision making.
In the chapter, Don’t Give Your Critic Words, I found myself highlighting numerous passages. Not giving the critics in our lives words, not naming their criticism, not giving them the floor, not giving them the opportunity to have any sort of influence on your life. The critic no longer has power, even if that critic isn’t real and is only in your mind. I realize I give the critic power over my decisions and that needs to stop.
Another part of her book spoke to me as well. I tend to over-extend myself with commitments to others. I’m too quick to offer a “yes” when my answer should be a “no”.
Rather than being a scattered person unable to do anything, I want to be a gathered person equipped to do her next right thing in love.
The result for me was frustration, feeling overwhelmed, and the sense that I was trying to do everything but not doing any of it well. On a good day, I could only do most of it by half.
These two quotes resonated with me on many levels. I’ve read several books dealing with this very topic and each one gives me another nudge to level my responsibilities, find my joy, and say no to the things that need a no. In fact, I did that today. My time was requested and even though it would have been an easy yes, it would have taken time away from other things that I needed to complete today. I paused, took a breath, and said no. That may not be a big deal to most of you but it is a big deal for me. I like to help. I like to be needed. I like to give back. But, today, I didn’t have the time and I recognized it. I stayed in my moment for today, stuck with my plan, and didn’t waiver from it. If I had, then I would have been overwhelmed. I would have had to decide what would actually get done and what wouldn’t today. Saying no, reduced the number of decisions left in my day.
If you are looking for clarity in making a big decision or a minor one, Freeman’s book can shine a light on the things we do in our own lives to impede the decision-making process. Her prayer and practice at the end of each chapter were calming and gave opportunities for a more deep exploration of my own life but also how I parent our children and help with their decisions.
Emily P. Freeman is a best-selling author and host of The Next Right Thing Podcast. You can find out more at her website, HERE.
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