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How to be Courageous: A Complete Guide to Developing Courage

How to be Courageous: A Complete Guide to Developing Courage

Courage and muscle have a lot in common. The more we use them the stronger they get. Yet, if we neglect them they wither away and become frail, weak, and when called upon for quick action they often have a hard time firing up.

This post is all about the relationship between anguish and courage. The path that leads to a life lived on our own terms often features pebbles, boulders, and an occassional “this road is closed” sign.  It takes courage to walk across those pebbles, move that bolder, or have the patience to wait out that “road is closed” sign or to find another way around it.

Courage is life’s blood that fuels us

There’s an epidemic going on right now and it’s a lack of courage. It stems from the inability to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. To avoid accepting responsibility for our decisions, playing the victim, and not honoring who we are and what we believe in.

When was the last time you were courageous? When was the last time you felt butterflies in your stomach or your insides moving up into your throat? When was that last time you felt you scared, so nervous, or so unsure about a decisions you were making that you were certain the perspiration from your forehead might drown you or the pace of your heart would rival Usain Bolt’s 100 meter sprint pace?

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It might not always seem like it but the decisions we make every day can influence whether or not we face anxiety, stress, danger, pain, or difficulties. Courage is the willingness to make those decisions every day and live face to face with their outcomes. It is the ability to move forward regardless of any anguish you may face. Everyone of us faces fears, doubts, depressions, and anxiety. But not every once of us has the courage to move beyond them. It is only those that do that are considered courageous.

Without courage all other virtues would be obsolete and fail to exist. Passion, humility, honorability, integrity, truth, confidence, strength, and compassion to name a few. It takes courage to display these on a day-to-day basis. It’s hard, it’s real hard.

Winston Churchill called courage the first human quality because it is the quality which guarantees all others. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to become the person you truly want to become. To be the person you really want to be you will most certainly face fears, hardships, doubters, and those trying to keep you down. We often get so wrapped up in all the ways that things can go wrong that we forget about all the ways that things can go right. It takes courage to shift your mindset. It takes courage to find your way and to be true to yourself and discover your virtues… A whole sh*t ton of it.

Exercise it often

Practice courage often. Constantly display it by trying new things, being unique, or tackling a fear. Big challenges produce big courage but small ones every so often maintain its strength. Make a list of what scares you.

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Are you in a relationship but scared to commit (no, not me :) ), afraid to bungee jump, want to learn how to dance, try a Crossfit class, sell your car to start your own business? Make a list, a long list of everything thing that scares you and slowly tackle each one by one. Start small and build up. Just like exercising a muscle exercise your courage. The more often you do so the stronger it will get and the more confidence you will build to tackle bigger and bigger challenges.

Accept anguish

Lets get this out in the open right now. When you display courage you are taking a risk and acknowledging the fact that something could go wrong. Accept it and display the courage it takes to move on. Find temporary and specific causes for why things may have gone array. Remind yourself that any pain, discomfort, or stress is only temporary and related to this event only. Believe that you are more often than not the cause of good and positive outcomes and that the decisions you make and actions you take more often than not lead to results that represent your virtues.

Courage is not invincible

Displaying courage does not mean you are invincible. It is common to display courage and still have fears and self-doubt. If you’re married think about that decision. If you have kids, quit a job to start you own, or have ever given a presentation if front of a large crowd.

The decision to tackle those challenges does not mean you will not have doubts. You may make decisions and seriously doubt if they are the right ones. The decision itself is not where courage lies but instead it is in the ability to face those self-doubts and to decide what you will do once faced with them.

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How committed are you to displaying courage

Rollo May in his book “The Courage to Create” shares a wonderful analogy.

The acorn becomes an oak by means of automatic growth; no commitment is necessary. The kitten similarly becomes a cat on the basis of instinct. Nature and being are identical in creatures like them. But a man or woman becomes fully human only by his or her choices and his or her commitment to them. People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day by day. These decisions require courage.

How committed are you to living an optimal life? Often when we think about the commitment it may take to get their we get scared. Unlike the acorn or the kitten we are guaranteed anything in life so every decision we make is faced with the possibility that it may not work out as expected. Do you have the courage to face those possibilities head on with the reward being your optimal life?

Each one of us is here for a purpose. We all have unique gifts to share with this world, to ourselves, and to others. Do you have the courage to discover those gifts and share them?

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Look for the flashing neon sign

The decision to be courageous can be made very easy for you and much of the risks associated with it can be dissolved. Life has a funny way of hinting at us what we should be doing. If you’re tired all the time it’s telling you to rest. If you are overweight it’s telling you to start exercising and eat better, if you are unhappy it’s telling you you’re doing things not aligned with your virtues, and if you’re happy, healthy, and full of life it’s telling you to keep doing what you’re doing fool and don’t let anything get in your way.

Keep your eyes open. When are you at your happiest, healthiest, and most energized? You may find multiple outlets but that’s life’s way of telling you what you need to be doing more of.

It takes courage to be you – Look around, the world has a mold for us. There is a laundry list of things “we are supposed to do” by a certain time and in a certain way. There’s an assembly line we are all on with the same mold coming down quickly on each of us. It takes courage to get up, leave some behind, and make your own mold.

So if you are a dancer – dance.
If you are a painter – paint.
And if you are a writer – write.

It doesn’t make much sense to be anything else but you and it doesn’t take much courage either.

Featured photo credit: o ponto de vista de Felix Baumgartner pouco antes do salto que  via Flickr

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Justin Miller

Healthy Lifestyle Architect, a Fitness and Nutrition Coach

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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