It’s natural to experience stagnation at various times throughout our lives. When your routine is the same every day for months or years on end, it’s easy for things to start feeling a bit monotonous, even boring. If you let yourself be stuck in this rut for too long, it’s easy to become listless, passionless, and a little depressed.
Courageous does not mean fearless or unafraid; it means to not be deterred by fear. To be afraid and take the leap anyway. To realize that fear is nothing more than an emotion and can be set aside for the greater good or to reach your ultimate goals.
You can lead a more courageous life by simply noticing when misplaced fear or apprehension present themselves and pushing past them. Notice I said “misplaced” fear or apprehension. Fear in truly dangerous situations is entirely reasonable.
Now, to intentionally create a more courageous life, you have to practice. I’m going to go over a few scenarios and opportunities for you to consider. Listen carefully and imagine yourself in each one. Notice the ones that make you the most uneasy and start there if you’d like to dive right into the deep end of the pool.
Stand up to that mean mom at your child’s sporting event or the obnoxious dad hurling insults at the other team, instead of just being a silent witness. Show your child that it’s the right thing to do.
Intentionally change up your routine. Consider getting up an hour earlier every day to meditate and exercise or go for a walk as the sun rises. Commit to reading a new book a week or spending the hours before bed connecting with your spouse instead of on the sofa watching television.
Make a career change. So, you’ve been a nurse for 20 years, but you’d be much happier as a yoga instructor? Make the change. Of course, do it in a way that’s financially responsible, but no one ever said you could only work in one field your entire life. Make a drastic change if you’ve evolved and what you’re doing is not longer fulfilling to the person you’ve become.
End a relationship that is no longer serving you. Whether it’s a neighbor, spouse, friend or family member, you are not required to continue to interact with someone when those interactions have turned unhealthy. It’s ok to block someone if you need a little extra space or to have an honest conversation that you need to take a break.
Book tickets to a dream destination that’s not a beach resort. See one of the wonders of the world and immerse yourself in the local culture. Travel to a place with great artistic or historical significance. Explore the country of your ancestors and learn about the migrations that led you to where you are today. This is an excellent way to enrich the lives of your children as well.
Learn something outside your comfort zone. Take a painting class, learn to improv or join a Zumba session. If it doesn’t scare you just a little bit, it’s not stretching you as a person. Enlist some friends to accompany you or, even better, attend alone and talk to everyone. Be brave and put yourself out there first.
Start a business or a charity if you’re entrepreneurially-minded. What’s your passion? The internet has opened up a whole new world of business over the last few decades. You can sell nearly anything online: crafts, jewelry, services, clothing, you name it. Or, if you’d rather go the more traditional route, open a boutique or start a service business doing something that lights you up inside. Start an animal rescue or homeless outreach if that’s what you feel called to do. Just make sure your family is on board before taking the plunge.
Knock a few things off your bucket list. Skydive. Mountain climb. Hike through the rainforest. Get a tattoo. What have you always wanted to do, be, experience or try? Do you want to look back in regret 30 years from now because you let fear keep you from going for it?
Move to a place you’ve always wanted to live. Overseas? Across the country? In the city? Go for it! Just because you live somewhere for the next year or the next few years doesn’t mean you can’t go anywhere else in the future.
Volunteer for your favorite cause and get involved on the front lines. So many wonderful causes need people even more than they need money. Give your time generously and as often as possible. Look for opportunities to raise awareness and participate.
Run for local office or get involved in local politics. The local and state levels are typically where the most opportunity is for change. It could be something like a PTA or school board seat or even a spot on the local city council.
Last but not least, speak up when you have a dissenting opinion. Leading a courageous life doesn’t have to involve big, flashy changes. In fact, one of the most important ways to step outside your fear is making your voice heard, even when you’re going against popular sentiment.
Leading a more courageous life takes deliberate practice and setting aside of misplaced fear but doing so yields priceless dividends. Not only will you feel more alive and vibrant, but your trust and belief in yourself will also be rock solid. Plus, you never know who you’re inspiring around you to step up and lead their most courageous lives.