Happy New Year! In this season, most of us reflect and set goals for the year to come. Here’s what I’m thinking about (along with setting goals and having patience) as I go through that process.
Few people would say they are exactly where they want to be in terms of their goals at this time of year.
If asked why, I think the answers would be about scarcity or motivation. “I don’t have enough time or money.” “I can’t seem to make space for that one key thing.” Or, “I haven’t quite allowed myself take that key step.”
Few of us would frame this question in terms of courage.
But that’s the perspective I’m reflecting on today.
How can I live with more courage next year?
Where can I better prioritize the important investments of my time and money?
Where can I share more of my best with the people in my life?
I ran across this quote on courage and vulnerability this week. It’s from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on Self-Reliance.
“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.”
I’m thinking on this because I believe we are all called to courage. We all have work we are meant to do, purpose in the time we are given. And, personally, I struggle with the courage to share myself and prioritize when it’s difficult.
When I was in the military, we spent a lot of time thinking about building courage. Here are a few things that worked well.
Belief – This seems simple, but taking the time to truly believe in the importance of your goal makes a huge difference. This is too important for me not to act, and I know my current path is the best route. Thinking in detail, over time, about your alternatives and the cost of not acting can help.
Training – Practice is one of the best ways build courage. I know I can do this because I’ve done it before, in smaller venues, a hundred times. I’ve visualized and rehearsed all the ways this can go wrong–so I know what I can do will be enough. It’s simple, and time consuming, but makes a huge difference.
Experience and Confidence- When you can reflect on your experience, and through reflection, develop confidence–it’s easy to believe your experience transfers to a new venue. I’ve been through worse before; I remember how it felt and how it worked out. I’ll handle this challenge like I have in the past, and it will work out. You build this sort of track record with small steps, time, and a willingness to reflect.
Community – Seeing other people do what I am struggling with is the most convincing tool to help me take action. It seems like a lot, but I know a lot of people who have done similar. I don’t think it will be a problem. Because of this, building relationships, over time, with like-minded people will be a huge help.
To summarize: we build courage slowly, one step at a time. I’ll share some thoughts on that tomorrow.
I hope these ideas help you in building your resolutions this year.
What else are you considering as you think about the year to come?
Have a great day!