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How to get unstuck in life by simply making a next move — any next move.

Where you're going doesn't matter as much as you think it does. Maybe you should just go.

How to get unstuck in life by simply making a next move — any next move.

Lately, I’ve been hearing from lots of friends who are struggling to make the right decisions.

“I want to write a book but I don’t know where to start.” “I’d love to quit my job, but what would I do?” “I’ve always wanted to travel but can’t find the time.”

In a way, they’re all saying the same thing: They’re scared and stuck.


All photos via iStock.

But here’s what I know: 30 years from now, you won’t remember what cereal you chose at the grocery store. On your deathbed, you won’t care which vacation cruise package you picked. You won’t recall whether you chose to see the romantic comedy or the action adventure movie (unless, of course, it’s another "Die Hard" movie —  those are great).

None of these things will have mattered. What will matter is that you acted, that you made a contribution, and that you decided to do something. Or that you didn’t.

The fact is, most decisions aren’t life-changers.

The universe doesn’t care what you have for breakfast, but chances are you will eat something. Certainly, some people would say you’d be better off eating eggs than Pop-Tarts (unless, of course, we’re talking brown sugar Pop-Tarts — those things are divine). So it’s not that all decisions are equal — they aren’t — it’s that most of the time, you just need to decide to do something.

Often the decisions are just about whether to act or not. And this is the very thing most of us are afraid of doing. We waste time writing up plans and setting goals that never get done. We worry about doing the wrong thing and obsess over inconsequential details. And, sadly, we sometimes end up squandering the most important moments of our lives because we’re afraid to just do something.

For me and plenty of people I talk to, a lot of the planning is basically just stalling.

Hiding. Another way to stay stuck. So what’s the solution? What’s the answer to this paralysis we sometimes feel?

I’m not anti-planning, but sometimes you just need to start. Life is a journey, not a business plan. What would happen if you quit trying to control things? I know, it sounds sort of grand, doesn’t it? But do you want to plan your life away or live it? Let go and live the story.

Where you’re going doesn’t matter as much as you think it does, either. Just go. More often than not, you just need to move in a direction, not the direction. Stop worrying too much about which way to go and just get going.

A friend of mine calls this “the bicycle principle.”

He means that it’s easier to make changes in life once you’re moving. Just as with riding a bike, you can steer more easily the faster you’re going. And conversely, if you’re not moving and you try to steer, you’ll probably fall down.

Isn’t it interesting that failure usually happens not when we move too quickly, but too slowly? So just start pedaling and see where you end up. Where you are is nowhere near as final as it seems.

If this whole bicycle thing challenges the very fibers of your being, try any (or all) of the following:

1. Go for a jog or a bike ride to nowhere in particular.

Just start moving in hopes of leaving the familiar. Turn down every random street or path you can find until you get lost. Don’t worry about how you’ll get back. Then, see where you end up. You’ll make it back alive — I promise — and you just might be surprised where it takes you.

Remember what it feels like to wonder where you’re going. Do you recall the resistance to just get moving in the first place? Make an effort to get lost more often. It’ll make you better at overcoming that initial stall you experience every time you have to make a decision, big or small.

2. Sit outside without any technology for a full hour.

Let yourself get bored and see where the boredom takes you. Can you hear the birds chirping? The wind blowing? Yourself breathing? Pay attention to the cars or kids or sounds of insects in the background. Count the noises you recognize and imagine where they’re coming from. Bonus points for journaling about this and sharing it with someone.

Try to do this once a week, then every other day, then every day. One of the reasons we struggle to make better decisions is because we keep getting distracted with new things. Distraction is antithetical to decisiveness. Giving yourself a break from the noise will help you tune into the choices you need to make.

3. Do something that scares you.

Apply for a job. Tell someone you love them. Ask your neighbor on a date. Laugh out loud in a public place. Deliver a speech to a stranger. Climb a tree. Call someone you have a grudge against and apologize.

When you do this, pay attention to the release of fear you feel. Remember that feeling the next time you feel intimidated by a big goal or a risky situation. Remember that you didn’t die. And try to trust the process in the future.

Some of these things may seem silly, but the more you do them, the more in control you’ll feel.

The truth is that we can’t plan life, but we can participate in it. The things that seem uncontrollable are more in your grasp than you realize. Just remember:

It’s not about the destination. It’s about the direction.

If you don’t know what to do with your life — what book to write, what song to sing, what job to choose, which person to ask out — just  try picking something. It’s not a fail-proof solution, but it ain’t a bad place to start. Because the truth is once you start moving, you can always change directions.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.