“If we want a life of our dreams, rather than a life that is presented to us that we decide to settle for, we must live courageously”.
Looking back on this year, I can’t even begin to list the amount of things that have changed in my life. For some, these changes would seem rather insignificant. But for this girl who at the ripe age of 36, left the comforts of her full time job to pursue self-employment and picked up and moved from upstate NY, to Vermont (for 6 weeks during the summer) and then eventually down to South Florida, change has always been uncomfortable. Nothing for me has stayed the same, but I’m learning to embrace that now more than ever. If we don’t change then we’re not growing. And if you’re not growing, then you’re stagnant. And I was stuck. That’s not to say that I don’t still get stuck (because I do–quite often to be honest with you), but it’s all part of the process of getting “unstuck”.
I think part of my reluctance to change is the fear. Fear of the unknown. The fear of messing up and doing the wrong thing. But in who’s eyes is it wrong? I think I’ve allowed myself to take the easy road (instead of the road less traveled) because it’s much easier to take the path of less resistance–the safe path.
But this next year instead of taking the safe path, the path around the difficult hurdles, I’m making a vow to myself (and to my husband) to forge ahead and have more fun. Sounds weird, right? To make a vow to yourself to have more fun. But if you truly knew me then you would realize how right on this is. I allow my fears to stop me from having fun as I tend to most often take the safe path. Instead of seeing the beauty of the ocean and feeling the water on my feet, I walk on the beach away from the shore in fear of the jellyfish that may be nearby. There is a difference between being careful, and taking the fun out of everything. And in doing so, I’m robbing myself of truly enjoying life.
So with that being said, I found this fabulous article below and knew it was perfect for me to adapt for this coming year and perhaps may help some of you with your own internal struggles. I suspect from time to time this next year I’ll have to “check back in with myself” (or rather, re-read this blog post) to make certain I’m living up to my own expectations of living a life with less fear and more fun, but it’s all a part of learning and growing, and figuring out how to live our lives the way we think we should be.
How to Live More Courageously:
1. Read, read, read. Gain knowledge. Knowing something and having a credible source (or more – which is preferred) will build your confidence about what you know to be true.
2. Stop procrastinating and give it a try. Do your best. Learn from the results of that first attempt and do not become discouraged.
3. Face what you fear. Look it in the eye and determine what exactly it is that you are afraid of. Rejection? Being laughed at? Not being accepted? Often our fears are telling us what we desire the most in our lives, and it is up to us to listen to this internal message and follow that yearning.
4. Take a step outside of your comfort zone. By being open to meeting new people, visiting a new city that you don’t know but are curious about, changing up your routine a bit or having a taste of something that you assumed wouldn’t be to your liking, you are gradually strengthening your ability to be courageous.
5. Practice Standing up for What you Believe is Right/Just/etc If your desire is to be able to have enough strength to stand up to those who are bullying you, don’t allow others to be bullied either. In other words, practice standing up for others who need a helping hand. It is often easier to be courageous when someone else is in need, rather than standing up for ourselves. So by being clear about what you will and won’t tolerate, learn how to find the gumption within yourself to have a voice when it is necessary. This will help you find your voice when you need to stand up for yourself.
6. Be Disciplined. In order to have self-discipline, you must be very clear about what you want, and thus, very clear about what you don’t want. As you begin making progress toward what you do desire, you will be less easily swayed to go off course which will make it easier to display self-discipline, allowing you to proceed forward even if no one understands your efforts.
7. Less Analysis, More Action. Similar to slowly making your way into a cold swimming pool inch by inch versus jumping in cannon ball style, the act of just doing it and not over-thinking can actually work in your favor. Why? To begin with, you wouldn’t be considering it if it wasn’t something you were interested in. Secondly, when we start analyzing, we welcome self-doubt which erodes our self-confidence. Yes, I believe it is a good idea to always try to make the best decision, but once our toes are on the line (which means were quite curious in the first place), it’s time to just jump in.
8. Trust Yourself. With each year of life experience, as you pour over what you enjoy versus what makes you cringe, what makes your heart sing versus what tears at your heartstrings, you hone your instincts. You begin to realize what is worth taking a risk for – love, a particular career, justice, etc. And when you know what is important to you, you begin to realize that you must choose what you care most about over the fear that stands in the way.