Doing the Next Thing

By Alison March 29, 2010 6 Comments 3 Min Read

“What is the hardest thing in the world to do?
Not in the least what most people might suppose it is, yet if we are brought up sharp we all discover what our greatest difficulty is.
It is doing the next thing, whatever that may be.
Most of us know the difficulty only too well. The last thing we can do, or feel inclined to do, is the next thing, the duty or the task that stares us in the face asking to be got through. Anything but this. The next thing but one is easy enough, and we should enjoy tackling it. But the next thing…No! it’s beyond us. And it’s always there, we can’t get away from it.
But there’s another way of looking at it. If it is an obstacle it is also an opportunity. Doing the next thing is a panacea for nearly all our woes.
You live in Botheration Buildings and you long to move to Peace Place.
That is you have dozens of things to to, business of all kinds to get through, endless matters to arrange and you are bewildered and feel you will never get through them. You seem on the verge of apoplexy or insanity. Keep cool. Do the next thing; get it over as quickly as possible, and the battle is as good as won. You will have got up steam.
“But what is the next thing?”
Generally that is clear enough – if you are only willing to do it. If not, it is any one of the crowd of things waiting to be done. Which of them you choose matters little; do it- and the muddle begins to straighten out, and you can go ahead with the rest.
It’s the same with an attack of the blues. We all get this horrible complaint at times and it is always worst when we can discover no cause for it. It just comes – and down we go.
Can’t do anything, don’t know what’s the matter, but do know that everything’s wrong.
Gloomy thoughts, dreadful forebodings, hopeless inertia. You know all about it; you’ve had it too often.
There is one cure for this malady- do the next thing, and do it straight away. And the next thing is probably something quite simple. It may be putting your boots on, writing a letter, making up your cash account, straightening your table. Anyhow, there it is. Do it and you’ll feel more than better. You will be all right. The exertion will shake off the heaviness and set up a healthy chemical action of the brain. You will forget your wretched self- the cause of your misery.
And blunders!
We are always making them, even the wisest and the cleverest of us and sometimes they seem to have made shipwrecks of our lives. Nonsense! We must start afresh, and rebuild what we have stupidly knocked down. Here too, the only way to put things right is to do the next thing. And as with bothers and blues, that next thing is generally obvious and simple. It isn’t quite obvious?  Well do something, and that will be the next thing.
As an Oxford coach used to say to a crew before a race…
“If your button gets out of the rigger, do any blessed thing- but go on rowing. ” There’s always one thing that you can do. Do that, and you’ll do the rest.
Go on, but don’t go on sitting still.”

By W.C.Buncher, 1922.


  1. The Happy Homemaker says:

    "If it is an obstacle it is also an opportunity."That is brilliant…absolutely brilliant…if I can just remember to tell myself that:)

  2. Beth says:

    I had this exact conversation with myself yesterday. It is so hard to get on to the next thing sometimes. I think I'll keep that last phrase for the next time I'm having trouble getting going again!

  3. Katie says:

    Boy, did I need to hear this one. Right at this moment, too. Just minutes ago I was boo-hooing, and now I feel better. Thanks for posting something so straightforward and simple.

  4. Counting Your Blessings says:

    Well now that was just the tonic I needed! My 3rd grade teacher had a sign in the classroom that said, "When in doubt, Don't." It's served me well many times over the years. I have a feeling that "Do the next thing" is going to be another phrase that I'll remember forever and one that I'll try to apply often.Now I'm off to get dinner started because, darn it, it's the next thing. Blessings… Polly

  5. Janette Wright says:

    First time to your sight and this was so enjoyable, and so for me today! Thanks for the post.

  6. Deborah says:

    My "next thing"…..looking forward to our next blog installment! I just signed up for your newsletter after reading some of your posts. You are an inspiration to someone who loves vintage but very very unorganised! Thankyou!Best regardsDeborah

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