The root of the word “courage” comes from the Latin “cor,” or heart. Which makes perfect sense to me, as one of my personal definitions of courage is following your heart.
Are you following your heart? Are you doing that which you would most love to do with your life? If not, why not? If not now, when?
Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what it is that we most love to do. As we get older, many of our favorite activities that we loved as children are crushed out of us, and ridiculed as unimportant or useless. This usually happens because no one believes we can make money with these enjoyable activities!
The first step is in self-discovery. At the beginning of a new year, it is a traditional time to look inside ourselves and think about what we would like to change or improve in our lives. For me, it’s not about setting unrealistic goals or making resolutions that will be impossible to maintain – it’s simply about looking and noticing first.
Here are a few easy questions for you:
1. What do you like best about yourself as you are now? Why? How could you use your most interesting, personal characteristics to make positive changes in your professional and private life in 2012?
2. What would you like to improve in your life? Please don’t beat yourself up with this question! You are wonderful just as you are, but it is natural to want to grow, learn, evolve. What concrete steps could you take to learn something new, stretch yourself, and get a little closer to where you want to be by the end of 2012?
3. What are some activities you enjoy doing that are not a part of your life right now? Which of these activities could you integrate into your life, even if only once a week or once a month? This could be as simple as eating mangos, taking a dance class, or going on daily walks outside. Use your imagination and have fun with this!
4. How would you change your life if you had an unlimited amount of time and money? Yes, I know you may thnk this is a completely unrealistic question, so why bother. But your personal response is very interesting because it tells you a lot about yourself and your deepest wishes that you normally censor as being silly.
For instance, if your answer is “travel around the world,” then perhaps there are some little steps you can take to get closer to your dream – or you could at least try to make a few fun, inexpensive road trips close to home this year. Perhaps what you are really craving is the unknown, some adventure. What are your most absurd, “unrealistic” dreams and what are they trying to tell you?
5. Where do you want to be professionally and privately at the end of 2012? If you could create your own “dream life” (and actually you are, we all are in the process!), what would it look like? Which personal and professional goals would you most like to realize this year? These “dreams” can be as big or small as you like.
Maybe you have already done some similar exercises, worksheets, or written in your private journal to celebrate the beginning of 2012.
However, I find it always a good idea to keep working, writing, and thinking to clarify as accurately as possible exactly where you want to go. It’s like planning your own creative, courageous road map for 2012.
Once you have clarified some of your goals, dreams, ideas, or wishes for 2012, it is a nice ritual to write them down on fancy slips of paper, in a special journal that you keep for only recording your dreams and goals (not your doubts!), or to create a visual inspiration board or wall that includes images. In my Creative Courage e-course, we even make a visual roadmap of our dreams.
Review your goals and dreams from time to time, and revise them as often as necessary. The most effective times to do this are upon waking, before going to bed, or whenever you have very quiet, private time for yourself. If you make this an enjoyable ritual with your favorite beverage, a candle, in a space you especially like to be, you’ll find that you do it more often. This is a powerful exercise, but you have to make it a habit.
We all need personal courage to move forward, and other people in our lives to encourage us.
What can you do to connect with other people who share similar goals and dreams, who will provide you with positive support when you are feeling a bit lost in 2012?
Through the Internet, there are so many ways to connect these days. Some of those contacts may happen only online, but during the past year, I have found many online contacts turning into real life contacts as well! During my travels in Europe over the past six months as part of my 12 Countries in 12 Months tour, I have met and interviewed creative women from Prague to Portugal who are living their creative dreams.
In 2012, I encourage you to reach out, make connections with others, take several concrete steps in the direction of your creative dreams, and add more adventure in your life. It is your responsibility to create the life you want, and you are not alone! Let’s make the leap together – after all, 2012 is Leap Year!
“It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined.”
– Henry James
If you’d like to meet courageous women from around the world who are connecting to make their creative dreams real, please join us here.