I was looking through old pictures this morning, reminiscing on days gone by. I went through all the highlights – graduating high school, my wedding, the honeymoon, Lydia’s birth, and our first goats. All our home purchases and business pursuits were there as well. And looking through everything, I couldn’t help but reflect on how every one of those achievements had TERRIFIED me in the beginning.
Before I graduated, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. The idea of “stepping out into the world” was horrifying! What if I chose the wrong career and ended up cynical and miserable the rest of my life? But one thought kept pushing me on. It was something a mentor had told me:
We grow our wisdom teeth by biting off more than we can chew.
We all have things we have to do that we have no idea how to do – and it takes a lot of courage! Especially when we’re trying to live a life different than the majority of the world. So I’ve put together this list of what I’ve done to find the courage I’ve needed.
Find Your Vision
Usually when I’m scared to move forward, it’s because I’m picturing all the ways it could go wrong. Anybody else out there hearing me? Do you remember that first animal you brought home and you were running through all the different ways it could die or hurt itself at your house? That’s generally me before I do anything new or unknown.
But what I’ve realized is that none of those things are real. Every terrifying possibility lives only in my imagination and nowhere else. But if I can create a horrifying outcome, I also have the ability to create a beautiful one as well.
So now every time I’m scared, I’ll take some time to envision the best possible outcomes. I picture everything turning out better than I had hoped, and how that will look and feel. Before I know it, I’m excited to get started! It’s amazing how much fear we harbor that we produce ourselves.
Remember Past Accomplishments
If you try, I can guarantee you can come up with a list of at least 15 different things you’ve done which you didn’t originally think you could. Ways you’ve overcome and learned what you needed to in order to succeed. We are great survivors! But we have this horrible tendency to throw away our good track record every time we face something new.
I actually have a white board in our room where I’ll take the time to write down all the things I CAN do and HAVE done before I make a big move forward. I can’t tell you the effect it’s had on me. It’s changed how I viewed myself at very critical times in my life. Instead of thinking, “How can I possibly do this?” I think, “I’ve done harder things before, I’ll figure this out too”.
Make A Plan
I don’t mean make a plan on how to succeed – because usually you’re scared because you have no IDEA how to succeed. I mean make a plan to fail. Sit down and write down everything that could possibly go wrong, down to the tiniest little fear. Next, write down everything that you would do if each of those things happened.
I find, that if we don’t take the time to write down our fears they will bounce around in our brains until 5 fears feels like 50. Once I write them down, and then make a plan on how I will deal with them, they seem a lot less terrifying. Suddenly, they are manageable. So even if I don’t succeed, it’s ok.
I also balance that out by asking myself, “What’s the worst that could happen if I DON’T do _____ ?” Will I regret not taking the chance? Could I be stuck in a place that’s worse than if I failed? Will I lose future opportunities?
Surround Yourself With Courageous People
Simon Sinek says in an interview on courage that he believes it comes from the outside not the inside. Meaning that we draw courage from the people around us – from watching other people have courage. From knowing that so-and-so has our backs.
And he has a good point! I find that when I’m talking to other people that I look up to and admire, or people that I know have my back, it’s a lot easier to take that step forward. I don’t even have to tell them about what I’m thinking about doing! Usually, I’ll just spend time talking to them about what THEY’RE doing. When we are surrounded by people who inspire us, it’s hard to stay on the safe side of the line.