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5 Ways to Build Your Boldness

5 Ways to Build Your Boldness

We all want to live bolder lives. This doesn’t mean being brash or obnoxious.

I define boldness as doing the right thing for your life, despite the fears and discomforts that are part of the process of changing and growing.

Some people have a bucket list; I have a discomfort list. I have been on a five-year journey to dismantle my comfort addictions, systematically defining what actions I do and don’t do in order to avoid feelings and experiences that are uncomfortable to me. In the process, I have overcome countless personal and professional obstacles, freeing me up in ways I could have never imagined!

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I am a typical human being, made up of the same stuff as everyone else. But when a normal person faces the truth of their comfort addictions, it’s amazing what that an altogether normal person can accomplish! Here is a list of some of the things I have achieved as a result of embracing discomfort in my own life. (And funny enough, several of these items are, in fact, bucket list items for me. See what I did there?!)

  • I have written two books, the latest of which was published by McGraw-Hill.
  • I lost 25 pounds.
  • I learned to dance the East Coast Swing and am now working on the rhumba.
  • I started taking jazz piano lessons and recorded a solo piano CD as a Christmas gift for my clients.
  • I have traveled to Germany, France, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Italy and throughout North America.
  • I threw out the first pitch at a San Diego Padres game.
  • I grew my business revenue by 300%.
  • To top it all off, I am currently enrolled in a “learn to play ice hockey” class. This dream/discomfort was especially difficult to embrace since I did not know how to even skate when I started! Not knowing how to skate when one is age 5 is one kind of discomfort. At my age, it is something else entirely.

Bottom line: I am having the time of my life because I embrace discomfort! Here’s how I’ve done it and how you can too.

1. Find a Victory

Start small. Boldness is like a muscle that needs to be developed a little at a time.

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Find some small discomfort you can overcome right now. (Ex: sending an email, making a phone call, filling out a form…choose a small, doable task.) Do this one small thing and then celebrate the intentionality of your achievement. And just like that: you’ve started embracing discomfort! Way to go!

2. Make a Discomfort List

Start by being honest about what holds you back. What have you not accomplished because it’s just uncomfortable? What task or conversation makes you cringe when you think about it? What goal has been haunting you for years? What do you regularly procrastinate on because it’s not fun? It is important to identify these opportunities by writing them all down, big or small. Make a list. It won’t be pretty, but it’s necessary. Just get it all out.

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3. Prioritize Your Discomfort Targets

Choose the most minuscule discomfort from your list and move it to the very top.

Build from there, ordering the list from the merely pesky discomforts to the epic ones. You don’t want to start with “repair the disrupted relationship with my father.”

The items at the beginning of your list should be more along the lines of “thin out the junk drawer in the kitchen.”

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4. Make a Decision BEFORE the Discomfort

The process of embracing discomfort doesn’t start with external actions. It starts with the internal work of rearranging your brain and making a decision. So before you start on even the easiest task on your list, the most important thing to do is to make sure that your mind is right. Do this by deciding RIGHT NOW to tackle that first discomfort at a designated time. If you wait until the moment you are faced with a discomfort (you go to open the junk drawer and it’s so crammed full you can’t even get it all the way open) your mind will give you a thousand reasons why you should not tackle that task right then. So, schedule the time to act on a small discomfort right this minute and resolve in your mind to do so! In addition to the decision to act at a specific time, also decide what your positive mindset will look and feel like when that time comes. As is your brain, so will be your actions.

5. Celebrate the Successes!

As you build your boldness muscle a little at a time, stop to appreciate any and all progress along the way. You’ll find that every success propels you to your next success, especially if you take the time to recognize your progress and celebrate it.

Humans are complex beings…and we’re also not. A little recognition and celebration goes a long way in inspiring us to keep on keeping on. If you give yourself kudos for success (even small success) you’ll find yourself actually wanting to embrace the next discomfort. It’s just how we’re made!

Embracing discomforts in your life in order to be bold is crucial to professional success and a life well-lived. In the wise words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Life is either going to live you or you are going to live it. Stop and look around at your own life, choose boldness, and don’t miss it.

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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