If you are one of those people who wakes up in the morning thinking “same sh*t, different day,” and the most exciting thing you have to look forward to are those Friday night drinks and that extra sleep over the weekend, you are not alone.
Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their zest for life and now live their lives by going through the motions, just doing the routine busy work and the mundane tasks needed in order to pay the bills. And because our society makes it seem like living in this autopilot mode is normal, it can take us some time to question it and realize that there is a far better alternative.
Now, while there are many components to living an extraordinary life – such as having a clear vision and purpose, setting specific goals, serving others, etc. – there is one element that precedes everything else and that is absolutely essential in order for the rest of our actions to have any true, lasting effect in our lives. That element is courage.
I can guarantee that if you implement courage in the five ways I’m about to describe, not only will your life improve dramatically on a daily basis, but you’ll also be well on your way towards achieving the life you’ve always dreamed of.
- Courage to be yourself.
So much of our daily energy goes into pretending to be who we are not and doing things that we don’t want to do, just to fit in or please others. This is both draining and unproductive; yet we are often so scared of being judged, that we do what others want or expect from us rather than express our true personalities. This is the number one ingredient for a miserable life. It’s time you ask yourself: Who are you REALLY? What do YOU want? What do YOU think?
There is no right or wrong here, so embrace your individuality again. Be authentic. Even if some people don’t like it and they walk away, who cares? They are probably not the people you want in your life anyway; they didn’t like you for YOU, but rather for who you pretended to be. However, there are so many people out there who will not only love you for who you truly are, but who will also admire you for daring to be yourself in a world full of fakes.
The world wants to see YOU, not a carbon copy of someone else. Own your truth and don’t apologize for it. You’ll be surprised of the freedom that comes with it.
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” – Bruce Lee
- Courage to set boundaries.
Do you know what your boundaries are? Do you even have any? Again, so many people fear confrontation and disappointing others so much, that they put everybody else’s needs first. What’s more, they often do this for people they don’t even like! Then they resent these people for not appreciating them or seeing the sacrifices they’ve made.
Having boundaries is not only healthy, but also necessary. If some people get offended, that’s not on you. As long as you communicate with others respectfully, you have the right to have standards and set boundaries. In fact, people who are confident and emotionally healthy have high standards and very clear boundaries. They know their worth and thus they don’t feel the need to sacrifice themselves in order to feel validated or loved.
Because of this they are respected, not judged.
Determine how you’d like to be treated; what kind of behavior is acceptable to you and which is not. This is not being high-maintenance or selfish. This is the basis of self-respect and self-love.
Extra advice on this one: There is no need to get angry with those who overstep your boundaries. Most of the time they don’t even know they’ve done it to begin with! You can be calm, respectful and still make them aware of what your boundaries are.
“Respect yourself and others will respect you.” – Confucius
- Courage to go dream big and go for it.
Did you ever have a dream or goal that you never shared with others for fear of being ridiculed? Or what’s worse, have you ever sabotaged your own dreams?
Perhaps you wanted to quit your day job and start your freelancing career, but then you found “reasons” to talk yourself out of it. Or maybe you wanted to finally get fit and lose those extra pounds but then the voice in your head said, “I’ve always been fat, what makes me think I can change now?” or “I could never stick to a plan and actually achieve that, so why waste all that energy if it’s going to be useless anyway?” or my favorite one, “I’m not even going to try, because every time I try, I fail and I feel disappointed. If I don’t try, I won’t fail.”
If any of this sounds familiar to you, it’s no wonder that you are not living the life you want. We need big dreams and goals in our lives in order to feel alive and truly motivated. When was the last time you dared to set a ridiculously great goal that could actually change your life; a goal that would make you feel excited about getting up in the morning?
Give yourself permission to dream big again. Now is the time to stop making excuses and go for it.
And yes, maybe at some point people will judge you or think that you are out of your mind, but are you really going to let that stop you? Most of the geniuses, artists and entrepreneurs we so much admire were at some point rejected or ridiculed, including Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, The Beatles, Oprah, among many others.
Follow your gut and turn your life around today. Even if you have doubts; even if the transition into a new life scares you; even if you are scared of the uncertainty that will follow your decision, have the courage! It will be worth it.
“The brave don’t live forever but the cautious don’t live at all. The only thing that’s truly terrifying is the unlived life.” – Bill See
- Courage to fail and keep going.
Congratulations! You’ve decided to go after your dream. Now what? Now it is indispensable that you develop (yes, develop) the courage to fail and keep going, because it won’t all be easy and flowing. Like they say, “sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” There will be obstacles and setbacks along the way and knowing that it’s all part of the journey is necessary in order to keep going.
Most people are terrified of making mistakes or looking like a failure in other people’s eyes, so they never intentionally go out of their comfort zone. They play it small or maybe they do try, but then give up at the first sign of trouble. This is one of the main reasons people fail to achieve anything: they are so afraid of losing that they never win.
Yet, failure is essential to success. Look at Thomas Edison and his 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Imagine if he had given up after the first or second “failed” attempt. Or think of Colonel Sanders, who at age 65 decided to sell his chicken recipe. He was rejected 1009 times before finding a taker. What do you think most people would have done after being rejected 10 times?
Having the courage to fail is necessary if you want an extraordinary life. Even if you make “mistakes” along the way, at least you will be in the game of life again and you won’t be failing by default, which is what happens to most people when they are too scared to even try.
Extra advice on this one: Whenever you notice that fear of failure is trying to cripple your dreams, think of this: We learn to walk by falling down and getting up and trying once more. If we hadn’t tried again and again, we would have never learned how to walk!
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
- Courage to be vulnerable.
It’s so common for us to want to protect ourselves by putting up a wall around us. In a way it makes sense, we’ve been hurt before and we don’t want to be hurt again. But while these walls may help protect us from future pain, they also keep us from fully experiencing a deep connection with others and from feeling the deep emotions that make us human.
Have the courage to let others see your deepest fears and desires. Even if you grew up in an environment where opening up and being vulnerable and emotional was perceived as a sign of weakness, it’s time to take full responsibility of your life and change. Don’t let your past dictate your future. It takes so much more courage to show our vulnerability than to pretend that nothing gets to us.
Enough of the small talk and the shallow interactions! You need to put your heart on the line every once in a while if you want to have an extraordinary life. It’s time to let people in and connect with them on a deeper level. It’s time to be authentic about your emotions and let others see the real you. It’s time to start loving openly and fully again.
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” – Crissi Jami
Have The Courage TODAY. Not tomorrow. Not when it’s convenient. NOW.
Yes, it can be scary; but you’ll find that the alternative (living an unfulfilled life) is even scarier.