In 2021, Focus on the Next Right Thing

If you’re overwhelmed by what lies ahead of us in 2021, start small. Choose to do the right thing as it is presented. Then do the next right thing, and the next and the next.

A few days before south Texas locked down for the pandemic, I found myself at the top of a very steep and dangerous hill. I was at Garner State Park, and an hours-long hike, it seemed, would culminate in a difficult descent that seemed impossible when taking in the full scene.

The trail was all loose dirt and rocks. Upon first look, it seemed that the only way to make it down the hill was by falling my way through it, resulting, of course, in certain injury. But there was no alternative. It had to be done.

This particular hike is burned in my memory because it was the last such hike before our world changed. I remember the sense of fear that I took with me that day, the passing conversation about what was happening in the world from other hikers, and the weird feeling that most likely, none of us should be there.

And so when I stared down the rocky embankment, trying to think my way through a safe passage, I felt that I had perhaps gotten myself into more trouble than it was worth. What was ahead of me was overwhelming, and what I had to calculate my way through was too much.

But then I took the first step.

And then the next and the next. Each time I ensured that my footing was secure, I balanced my weight properly and paused to think through the next right thing. Step by step, stumble by stumble, I worked my way down that hill without injury.

Such is the nature of work we must do in 2021.

The hill we must descend is difficult, but it must be faced. We can’t calculate our way through it from beginning to end without being overwhelmed by it. We can only make smart choices one at a time. We have to take one sure step, then another and another.

We have to do the right thing, then the next right thing, and the next.

Smart choices, taken one at a time, will become the meaningful change we need. Don’t let the uncertainty of the long run keep you from addressing the important work that is right in front of you.