Feeling Stuck? One Small Step Could Unlock Your Adjacent Possible
Lately, our mornings have started off with a prolonged lie-around in bed and a daily game of mental tug-of-war:
What am I supposed to be doing right now…?
Seriously, it feels like everyone’s telling me to do something different.
Am I supposed to be working? Staying home? Getting back to normal?
Protesting? Donating? Should I post, or not post???
Why does it seem like everyone has more DOWNTIME than me???
Maybe I should just get up…
Yep, no matter how long we lay around contemplating life, checking social media, or reading the news, eventually we get going.
It’s a universal experience, starting the day. And for most, making that first move doesn’t feel like a monumental occasion. And yet nothing else if any importance can happen…until you decide to start your day.
OK…why are we so hung up on waking up?
Well, right now, it’s probably an understatement to say everything feels uncertain. When we’re literally staring down a crisis, it’s hard to envision the future, let alone picture our place within it!
That kind of stress can be overwhelming, and when there’s no clear path forward, sometimes it’s easiest just to shrink back into our blanket cocoons…and choose to do nothing.
But the truth is, no matter where you’re at right now, and no matter how limited your options might feel, every path is still open to you—as long as you don’t slip into inaction.
You have to make the conscious choice to get going. You have to take the first step…and that step could unlock your Adjacent Possible.
What’s the Adjacent Possible?
When we met with “Radiolab” host Jad Abumrad in New York, he blew our minds by telling us about the Adjacent Possible — a theory that has its roots in the formation of the universe(!) but can apply to how you feel right now.
It’s the idea that you can unlock almost any path, just by taking a step toward something right outside your border:
So how does this idea of the Adjacent Possible apply to your life right now?
The heart of the idea is this: even when you feel super constrained—say, by a global health crisis—or when you feel pulled in a million different directions—maybe by all of the causes you care about!—it’s totally OK to think small.
You don’t have to lead a revolution today. You don’t even have to sign up for a class today! You can start even smaller.
You can use a job posting website to explore careers that excite you in your area, and make a list of the skills you’d need to build to apply.
You could watch a YouTube video or order a book that can help you learn something new.
You can start a community group on social media to start organizing toward a cause. You could go even smaller and just do research on which cause you want to tackle!
You could brainstorm what you want to write about or draw next. You could learn to cook something, or literally plant something!
Because it doesn’t matter how small of a step you take — whether it takes five minutes or five days. That action will inform your next choice. It’ll either tell you, “Yes, keep going down this path!” Or, “Hollllld it, buddy. Turn around and try a different direction.”
The crazy thing is, this shouldn’t be a huge shift in your habits! The COVID-19 crisis has forced us all to start living a very iterative lifestyle — taking things day by day as we get new information and guidance. So let’s apply that to our lives on a smaller scale. Get iterative and take the time to absorb what you’re learning along the way—but make sure to keep moving.
Action will never box you in — it will only open your options up. But you can’t get unlock any of those possibilities…without taking your first step.