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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 November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

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Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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