Happy New Year!

So, what has the start of 2017 been like for you? I hope you’ve had an enjoyable time so far with family and friends and that you’re feeling energised and positive about the year ahead.

The beginning of any new year is a great time to step up and step forward – to focus on what you want and to set goals which will help you to get there.

And if you’re not feeling upbeat, it’s time to do something about that, to take care of yourself and to focus on what you really want from life. We all know what we don’t want and don’t like – that’s easy – but when was the last time you asked yourself what you do want? Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What do I want to change or improve for myself this year?
  • What do I want to explore or try out for the first time?
  • Where do I want to be by the end of 2017?

Write down a list of your answers. It doesn’t matter how far and wide you let your imagination run – run as far as you can! – as long as you challenge yourself to focus on what you want.

When you see that list in front of you, how does it feel? What jumps out at you from that page, makes your heart quicken and puts a smile on your face? Notice how you’re feeling, because your feelings are there to tell you something important.

What is your heart telling you? And what do you want to do about that? Perhaps you have surprised yourself with the list that you have written, or perhaps you see the same old list of wants and desires in front of you but haven’t done anything about them yet.

Listen to your heart and have the courage to take action. Courage may seem like a big word but I think it’s entirely appropriate for describing how it feels to take a step towards getting what you want. The quote below from Brené Brown brings the word “courage” to life for me:

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.”

Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Hazelden FIRM (2010).

We all have it within us to speak honestly and openly from our hearts and to have ordinary courage. Sometimes we may need a bit of support and encouragement to do that but when we step into our own special, ordinary courage, fantastic things can happen. The first step is to be honest and open with ourselves.

You decide what steps to take and in your own way. I used to look at others and say to myself, “I’m not like her so I can’t do that……I won’t be taken seriously……what if I fail?”. However, I listened to my heart – to my instincts – which, somewhere deep down, were telling me that I would regret it if I didn’t at least try.

So, I took a deep breath, I stepped into my ordinary courage and what actually happened was the opposite – I found that I could do what I wanted, I was taken seriously and so what if I failed?! I learned a lot – invaluable knowledge and skills – and I’m a better person for all the experience I have gained along the way. I sought support from colleagues and from a professional coach – I didn’t do it alone – and was thrilled with the results. I don’t regret a thing.

My ultimate courageous step was to resign from my full-time job and from a career that I’d been in for over twenty years. I put aside what I assumed others might think of me for doing that and went with what my heart told me, which was that I wanted to be a professional Coach. It was a big decision to make but it was the right decision. By stepping outside of my long-occupied comfort zone, I challenged myself to grow and loved the experience. It wasn’t always easy but I was learning every day and in a way that I hadn’t done for years.

My short story is far from unique; I have seen others take steps to do something new and perhaps you have too. This tells me that you can do the same if you want to – you can step into your own special, ordinary courage. You can be who you want to be and do what you want to do.

Being courageous will give you the chance the step outside of your comfort zone, to grow and learn so much more about yourself and to achieve your goals.

Goals are good! I used to groan about setting goals because I always associated them with what someone else wanted me to do, typically for work. Now that I work for myself, I set my own goals for me and they have taken on a different meaning. They are focused on what I want and so I am easily motivated to achieve them. You can do the same.

Setting goals for what you want will provide you with clarity, focus and will enable you to be courageous, one step at a time. Setting goals will give you a framework which will guide you in the right direction. You decide how you get there, but with goals in mind, you know what you’re aiming for and where you are going. And making your goals “SMART” – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-specific – will make it even easier to keep track of the wonderful progress you are making.

Is there something you really want to do this year?

  • Is it time to go for that new job?
  • Do you have a business idea but don’t know where to start?
  • Is there a new hobby or skill you want to explore but have been putting off?
  • Do you want to change something about yourself and your lifestyle?

Imagine its December 2017 and you are looking back over the year, at what you have done and perhaps what you didn’t manage to do. Where do you want to be by then? Now, ask yourself:

  • What do I want to have achieved by the end of 2017?
  • How will I feel if nothing has shifted or changed?
  • What will it have cost me if I haven’t taken that first, courageous step?

Have you written your list of what you want for yourself? Have you written your goals yet for 2017? What are three small steps you can start with, to get you on the right path?

Give it a go! What have you got to lose?

It’s a new year, a new start – time to step into your special, ordinary courage.

10th January 2017.