Tuesday, 16 August 2016

What Happens Next?

I came across this expression yesterday, and I think it may become my new life mantra:

It's not about what happened, it's what happens next.

When I had the Big Job in advertising I spent an awful lot of time dealing with other people's cock ups.

The commonly applied methodology at the time was the witch hunt. 

This involved interviewing all involved parties, deciding who was at fault, then hanging them out to dry so that everyone else could declare themselves totally blameless and move on.

I found the whole thing horribly distasteful and soul destroying.

My alternative approach was to ignore all the bleatings about who was to blame for the latest disaster, and instead to focus on what on earth we were going to do to fix it and, crucially, make sure it didn't happen again.

The same philosophy applies to children, who often have a horribly over developed sense of injustice.

After four weeks of summer holidays, my three are constantly fighting with each other.

We'll have moments, sometimes a whole hour, of happy co-operation over building a sandcastle, then world war three breaks out and I'm surrounded by children telling me (in minute detail, and simultaneously) who did what to whom.

So next time I'm going to say to them all, very calmly, "it's not about what happened, it's what happens next."

It's all about how you fix the sandcastle, how you apologise to the lady who now has sand in her picnic (without making a joke about putting the sand into sandwich) and how you get to be friends again.

(I have to confess, this may not work. They'll probably look at me with incredulity and go back to hitting each other with spades. But worth a go...)

And this mantra is crucial for us, my friends.

How much time have you wasted trying to work out what happened? How did I go from being a 'normal drinker' to an addict? Is it my genes? Is it hormonal? Am I just overreacting? What about the time I've wasted, the relationships I've neglected or destroyed?

The truth is, it's not about what happened, it's what happens next.

You're at a crossroads, and you can spend the next few months, or years, agonising about where you are and what got you here, or you can focus on the future, and make sure that you use the whole experience to become stronger, wiser and happier.

So, ask yourself: What happens next?

Love SM x


  1. Bless you SM, this was well timed! I am going to sing in the style of Jacques Brel "au suivant!"

  2. It IS so easy to focus on the past. Great reminder about looking forward!

  3. I tell my kids we all make mistakes, how we react/recover from those mistakes is what helps define us... Though I do forget to apply this myself :) I definitely like the "what happens next" view.

  4. Boy I needed to hear this today. Thank you.

  5. "Don't you want to see what's going to happen?" Was my mantra when I was struggling. I knew what was going to happen if I kept drinking-it wasn't good- I wanted to see what was going to happen if I quit.

  6. As always, how timely! Perfect advice to my drama queen 22 y/o daughter on her first real "big girl" job after graduating from college; I can't wait to tell her: "it's not about what happened, it's what happens next." Thank you!

    And thank you too, I've been successfully navigating life without wine. Very minor slip ups but right back on and now, 46lbs lighter (I don't know what that converts to in stones) I have the wine witch whispering that since I could conquer the weight thing, I am surely strong enough to conquer the weight thing, i.e. drinking in moderation. I've been telling myself that I'd much rather be a certain size (smaller) than toasted on the coach in the evening. But now instead of thinking about what I've done in the past and how crappy that was, now I can tell myself to no longer dwell on what went wrong in the past but what will I do next, what will I do going forward? I like that approach so much better! Thank you! (Southern Emily from way back in the beginning of your blog!)

  7. What an excellent mantra to help stay grounded and present. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will se how our experience can help others.

  8. Mantras are so very powerful- What happens next- is so great to reminding us to keep looking forward rather than dwelling on the past. As they say, don't look back, you're not going that way. Peace