Taking The Next Step in Life (A 12 Step Guide)

Taking The Next Step in Life (A 12 Step Guide) June 3, 2020
life plan
Yusef Evli via Unsplash

It’s not fun. It’s not comfortable. But these are the times that change us. ~Jewel

How are you going to emerge from this pandemic and extended period of social unrest? As the same person who went in? A little more bitter or jaded? Or as a woman or man with a renewed sense of purpose and vigor, a person determined to lead a more giving and rewarding life?

Now is the time to start planning, to develop a life plan for the months and years to come.

In my previous story on Eiman Al Zaabi’s book Finding Grace, I discussed her take on free will vs. determinism and the idea that God has a plan for our lives. Now, with continuing guidance from Eiman, let’s move to the next level and look at the steps we must take to bring this plan—your plan—to life.

In Finding Grace, Eiman was almost prescient when she wrote the following passage that talks directly to our troubled times–and also tells us that we might use this period to discover our own individual path:

When we witness the chaotic, violent, and unpredictable events taking place, it’s natural to be deeply troubled. We may wish to be of service but not know what to do or where to begin. How can we make a difference? Each of us has a vital role to play in restoring peace and harmony to the world. To fulfill the intention of your creation, you must discover your unique role.

Eiman reinforces this idea stating that “times of change and unpredictability can lead you to your life purpose.” The time to start planning your next move is now because “every one of us is meant to add to the world in a way no one else can. If you do not act, that contribution is lost.” You can choose to do nothing or you can choose to contribute to the betterment of the world around you.

Okay, you may be wondering, but where do I start? This must be determined by you, by doing a deep dive into your heart and soul and finding the place where your passions and abilities meet. Eiman writes that “we must choose to act from what is within us.” This means doing what feels right for you, not necessarily to those around you or what conforms to societal norms.

Eiman tells us that “you can confidently speak your truth. You can set positive intentions and then take the steps to bring your vision into reality.” To repeat, set the intention—then move ahead one step at a time. (A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  ~Lao Tzu)

I’ve listed 12 key steps below that I discovered in Finding Grace that can help you create your own path. The words are lightly edited and the points are in a different order than they appear in the book. I have also added a few additional thoughts in italics.

A 12-Step Guide to the Next Phase of  Your Life

  1. Every human’s life counts. Every contemplation, every word of truth you say, and every action in service of others counts. Your contribution matters. The Divine has placed you on Earth for a purpose.
  2. Your purpose will always be something bigger than yourself. Your job is to surrender to its pull. You won’t find this purpose on your smartphone. Contemplate. Meditate. Pray.
  3. Let your actions be guided by both knowledge and knowing. Knowledge is based on history, study, and past experiences. Knowing, on the other hand is intuitive. You will need both in order to take informed action.
  4. The soul longs for expression. It is here that we embody our talents, our abilities, and our most hidden desires for ourselves and the world. What does your soul long to express? We may even look as far back as our childhood dreams. “What did you most want to become or accomplish?” Why not pursue this dream now?
  5. Do not allow feelings of sadness, hopelessness, outrage, or fear paralyze you. Let them instead motivate you to purposeful action.
  6. Every time you have an insight or make a decision, be aware of your soul’s needs. Ask yourself: Does this support my well-being? Am I acting in love and kindness? Will the steps I’m about to take satisfy my innermost yearnings?
  7. Heed your soul’s call to express its gifts. Share your uniqueness, your brilliance, and your light. Think about the point where “your talent meets service.” Put to use what you are good at and most passionate about.
  8. Don’t be discouraged by the amount of work to be done. Take one small step at a time. Your sincere actions go further than you realize. Say that you can do it as opposed to cannot.
  9. Respond to the dark aspects of humanity by being the light. We can pledge to cast the bright glow of love and the cool waters of peace wherever they are needed. How can you connect with others?
  10. Every action ripples outward. You can change the world from within your circle of influence, wherever you are and however you are called to help.
  11. Instead of asking “How can I save the world?” ask “What are the unique things I have to offer? How can I be a force of good, right here, right now?” For a world that needs healing, sometimes the greatest gift is your own compassion. Where can you bring comfort to those in need?
  12. Your life is a precious gift that should not be squandered. Every one of us has the power to make a difference. To paraphrase Mary Oliver, “What will you do with this one wild and precious life?”
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