One of my favorite phrases from Steve Jobs, is when he would say:
“OK, what’s next?”
He got the point. He didn’t need to discuss it more. He’d made a decision and was ready to move on.
I love this phrase for the complexity beneath it. When you say, “What’s next?” you’re not deliberating or belaboring a point. You’ve made the call, now you’re ready to move on.
You’re also looking forward instead of looking backwards.
Notice that in every area of life, the very best keep looking ahead:
- Family: “made my sister feel special. What’s next?”
- Job: “Got a 40% raise. Now what?” (Btw, it doesn’t always have to be about more money.)
- Creativity: “I finally wrote that Book I’ve always been talking about. What’s next?”
This isn’t the kind of thing you really talk about publicly, or you’ll get comments like, “God Sunita, things are good. You should just be happy.”
I am happy. I’m not satisfied. (My definition of happiness= everything goes as I planned. Satisfaction= despite the highs and lows, my life holds deep meaning and makes perfect sense.)
Not many people know this, but when I co-founded Metamorphosis, I was writing on the side. I enrolled for a Ph.D. program. I worked for NGOs and attended a few workshops to learn new skills.
Not because I was unfocused. Not because I didn’t value time. Not even because of aversion to that old cliché about “putting all your eggs in one basket.”
I juggled because it gave me OPTIONS. And it can do the same for you.
Earlier this week, I talked to a kid about how important your answers to seemingly ordinary questions can be, and it reminded me of one of my favorite responses to a question – of all time.
Just recently while applying for Ph.D., I noticed something fascinating on most student forums.
A Harvard’s FAQ section on a student forum went something like this…someone asked something like:
“Should I take a tough class and get a B or take an easier class and get an A?”
Their answer: “We always encourage you to take the more challenging course, but, to be blunt, most of our accepted students take the tougher class and get an A.”
I love that response. That’s where my ‘Yes/Yes’ Principle was born.
Here’s how this works: if you find yourself asking, “Should I do X or should I do Y?” a lot of the time the answer is YES and YES. You should do both X AND Y.
This is a powerful tool for making almost any decision.
“Should I read THIS book or THAT one?” Answer: Read them both. “Should I go study animation or photography?” Answer: Learn them both at the same time. “Should I do more meditation or try going on a vegan diet?” Answer: Do both – and see results in half the time.
We create these false THIS or THAT scenarios all the time. And not just for casual choices like what books to read. We limit the major choices in our lives – like our careers – with this mindset.
People ask me all the time questions like:
- “Should I change girlfriends OR improve my relationship with my current one?”
- “Should I focus on getting more experience OR go take some risk?”
- “Should I do what I love OR listen to my parents?”
- “Should I let my child make career choices OR should I involve?”
The answer to all of these is actually YES and YES!
Yes, you can find your Dream Job. Yes, you can get paid more. Yes, you can give your child freedom and involve in the decision making process. And yes you can have that sabbatical now – not 10 years in the future. (But, no. You cannot date multiple girls (or guys) at the same time. Next question please.)
What false choices are you giving yourself?
I point this out because you don’t have to choose between chasing your dream and obeying your parents. You don’t have to decide between doing what you love and getting paid what you deserve.
You can say YES and YES to all of these things, as long as you’re willing to ask, “What next?”
So, what next?