What a word. Courage.
Doesn’t it just make you feel good to say it? Courage. Courageous. I am Courageous. Dorothy’s Lion in the Wizard of Oz longed after it in what was a very ironic situation as Lion’s should be the most courageous of them all. They are the King of the Jungle, after all.
Courage is my “word”. “What do you mean “word”, Paula?”. Stick with me. I was tired of the same old resolutions of “don’t do this”, and “you should do that” to start the New Year, so I picked one word that would show itself in all of my actions, and that word was courage.
It’s from this year-long focus on courage that I believe learned a few things from that could help you cultivate it where you need it. Maybe it’s making a big career move, growing your business, or just having a difficult conversation–here’s a few ways to cultivate courage to take action on the things that scare you.
Listen to your Intuition
There’s that tiny little voice or feeling inside of you that tells you when something’s not quite right, or when something is REALLY right, but is going to come at a cost or require you to take a risk. That voice and feeling is your intuition, and it should be your best friend. Some of us claim to not experience the “gut feeling”, but I don’t wonder if that is because you may have been shutting it up for so long that it just stopped showing up, or you recognize it as the “unrealistic dreamer” in you and pay it no mind. I assure you, it’s there.
So the next time you feel like something isn’t quite right about a situation or you have an exciting thought about something you want to do, take one small, tiny action. You don’t have to make an immediate investment of time, attention, money, or whatever else it might require at that very second, but just get curious about it. Do some research, talk about it with a supportive and trusted friend or family member, and keep the wheels turning. The more small, tiny actions you take, the easier it will be to cultivate courage to make the big decision or take a big action later on. Whatever you do, don’t push it down and chalk it up as a “nope! not going there.” You can almost guarantee it will come back again if you try to push it down.
Get Comfortable With Feeling Uncomfortable
You are not always going to have the answer. The stars won’t always align. The information is not always going to be readily available. You don’t have a crystal ball. All of these facts may make you squirm in your boots, but the sooner you can get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, the sooner you will start taking the courageous actions that need to happen in your life.
Pain is temporary and is necessary for growth. Have you ever started a new fitness routine? Then you know the pain I’m talking about. But those muscles have to break down and feel the burn in order to build new muscle. We often put off something that makes us uncomfortable and think that because we feel good again, it was the right choice. Wrong. That’s just your fear winning and telling you that you did a good job escaping the unknown. The unknown that was likely a really great opportunity, and at the very least, was a very important piece of experience or lesson that you are missing out on. That “comfort” you feel is just keeping you in the status quo.
Get Some Support
This is sort of like Who Wants To Be a Millionaire where you can call a friend when you’re faced with a tough question, but instead you want to phone a friend who will call you out and ask the tough questions when you’re avoiding making a courageous choice or decision. This has got to be my number one piece of advice for anything, and for good reason. You need supportive people in your corner who are going to lift you up when you need it. You need people who are going to ask the tough questions and call you out on things to support you to show up at your best. Maybe your first small act of courage is just having a conversation with someone asking for their support on a change you want to make in your life, career or business.
If you find yourself feeling a little complacent and saying things like “nothing ever works out for me”, that might be your hint that some more courageous actions need to be taken. Yes you will have “all the fear”, especially at first. But the more courageous actions you take, the easier it will get. You’ll be exercising that courage muscle so much that pretty soon the weight of the fear will feel lighter and lighter. I promise you the long-term benefits far outweigh the pain.
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