Your Next Step: Thoughts on Moving Forward When You Feel Stuck

In the summer of 2014, less than one week after completing a Half Ironman, I was diagnosed with stage three, spreading malignant melanoma. I’m not sure I’ll ever be comfortable writing those words, but I am eternally grateful for the prognosis. By God’s grace, I am now cancer free.

After my surgery, I took eight months off from exercising. Four of those months were necessary. The other four were a by-product of my own excuses. Finally, after months of internal wrestling, I started running again.

Last week, I found myself laboring through a four-mile run, struggling to get back into shape. My once-half-ironman endurance had vanished. I was ready to quit.

As I turned a corner on my path, I found myself running directly toward the setting sun. Its brilliance was blinding. I dropped my brow down, letting the angle of my forehead shield my eyes so I could see.

In that posture, all I could see was my next step. When I tried to look back up, the sun’s rays prevented me from seeing anything. In that moment, I was given a gentle reminder:

You only need to see the next step

Taking Steps 

In a way, cancer polarized my life. I found myself paralyzed by fear or busy with constant activity.

It’s a struggle I have begun to understand in many facets of my life: in parenting, in business, in fitness, in personal relationships, and especially in my relationship with God.

Too often, we do nothing for the simple fact that we don’t know what the path looks like ahead of us. When we can’t see one, five, or ten years down the road, we end up freezing. Or, we’re constantly busy in an uncertain direction.

Have you ever felt this way?

Quite frankly, it’s debilitating.

At some point, I had to ask myself: why do I let my inability to see ten steps ahead prevent me from taking the next step?

Too often, we let our inability to predict the future control our actions in the present. The truth is, we control our future by taking certain action in the present.

This morning, during my quiet time, I was reminded of this by the Psalmist:

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” – Psalm 119:105

Here’s a different way of looking at that verse.

God doesn’t promise us a spotlight into our future, He promises us a lamp for our path. In a world that shouts with banner ads and bright lights, our Heavenly Father longs for the intimacy of candlelight.

The beauty of the Gospel isn’t that God clears the forest for us, He walks with us through it.

I’m slowly learning that instead of us asking God to be a fortune-teller, maybe I should listen to His call to become a follower.

I’m learning that life is a constant journey of many next steps. While it’s important to dream, think, and plan for the future, we can’t let that become paralyzing. So today, instead of worry about the future, focus on the present.

What’s your next step?

It might be a conversation that you’ve been putting off. Maybe it’s waking up early to read your Bible. Possibly it’s going for a walk to get some exercise. Perhaps it’s typing words onto that blank page.

If you still find yourself stuck, why don’t you ask God what that next step looks like for you?

I believe He’s there, holding a candle, inviting you to go for a walk.

MH

As part of the Redefine Rich Coaching Series, I help people uncover and take their next steps. To learn more about the coaching series, visit this link.

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About the Author

headshot-footerHey, I’m Matt. And I love nothing more than helping people understand and achieve the fullness for which they were created. I call that living a whole life.

My first book, Redefine Rich, is my journey of uncovering a deeper, more fulfilling life when I chose to shift my perspective. You can order a limited hardback version of the book at www.redefinerich.com

While you’r here, please feel free to look around. You can sign up for our newsletter, check out our Mastermind Series, or visit my video series entitled Bow Tie Friday.

To contact me directly, visit www.mattham.com/speaking

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  • There are many words, in many books, that offer us tools for living a more peaceful life. But to only collect them and not use them does no good. Until they have real meaning, through experience, they are only words.
    We have become a people of wanting fast results, big pay offs, with little effort. Forgotten are the words, ‘ That which is worth having is worth working for.’
    Continuing to spend our days complaining, worrying about the state of the world, our lives, and the emptiness we feel inside, yet we go right on doing the same things we do. With the slightest of effort, we could realize that it is the things we do, that brings the things it does. And so therefore, it makes sense to think, we should do something different.
    Taking responsibility for my actions, is a good place to start. My thoughts, words and deeds are very powerful and I’m constantly creating the world I live in within my heart and the world I see… with them. When I take responsibility for my actions, chances are real good, I’ll make better ones.
    Only when I make choices that unite rather than divide, will peace live in my heart…and the world. One by one…little by little, the molehill becomes a mountain.
    * smiles*

    • Sharon –
      Love this! “I’m constantly creating the world I live in…” Is that from another piece or something you just wrote?

      • The Lord gave me this piece several months ago, however the thought ‘ I’m constantly creating the world I live in…’ is something I’ve had to live in order to know. * smiles*

  • Great reminder Matt for those of us who are attempting to follow Christ. As Zig Ziglar often quoted, “We don’t need to be told, but we do need to be reminded.” I had some similar thoughts in Fog on my blog at http://blog.stanstinson.com/fog/.

    Thanks for the reminder and best wishes on your Half Ironman journey.

    • Hey Stan! Thanks for the words – especially the Zig quote. Can’t wait to read your post on the ‘Fog’! Keep fighting the good fight!

  • As a runner, I can totally relate and loved how you made this turn towards our walk with God.

    • I’d like to say that’s where everything turns…not always the case, but the hope! Thanks Joe!

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  • Great stuff Matt. God often gives us the big vision for our lives but he only shows us one step at a time. When Abraham was called to leave his home he did not not know where he was going. He just knew he had to leave. If we could see the whole path, we would not need faith. I hope I can join with you and not let that single next step hold me back.

    • I love Abraham’s journey of faith and I have been reflecting on it often. If I can help you with next steps, just let me know.

  • Great perspective. I’m chasing a dream (blogging) while living my two other dreams of being a stay at home mom and a financial coach at my church. I have no clue what my dreams will look like 3 months from now, but I’ve surrendered my ambitions to God and must walk step by step in faith, as you said. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Laura – it sounds like you have already taken GREAT steps toward the vision He has placed in your heart. Continue walking that path. If I can help in any way, please let me know.

  • Stan Stinson

    Great post and perspective Matt. Thanks for sharing it with us to remind us. It reminds me of another Ziq quote, If you wait until all the lights are “green” before you leave home, you’ll never get started on your trip to the top.
    ~ Zig Ziglar

  • heather cloudt

    Matt! Your words, they are so so true.
    It is such a great reminder to me that there is so much to learn from running besides just exercise. It’s a communial exercise of sorts.

    In the midst of four kids, I often get tunnel vision of what will happen next. I’ve spent most of the summer worrying about what high school will look like for my oldest when she is just entering 8th grade! I missed a summer that she is still home.
    Our kids grow so quickly. Society tells us to focus on the next thing, when we are indeed missing the greatest gifts – those sweet moments. The moments where you rock them to sleep, when they laugh, when they cry.
    The next things aren’t really the “big” things. The simple, the now — the now IS the big thing.
    We are blessed. Thank you!