6 Steps to Cultivate Courage
Keep Moving Forward
Is fear holding you back from living your life to the fullest? Do you wish you could show up more courageously in your day-to-day interactions with coworkers? Are you afraid to go after bigger things even though you deserve them?
What would you do with an extra dose of courage? Maybe you would finally ask for that raise you’ve been waiting for. You might feel more confident in closing the next big sale or even invite that crush to go out on a date. Once you learn to push past the fear, a whole world of endless possibilities can open up for you.
But what does the word courage really mean? Courage is the ability to continue moving forward, even in the face of challenge, adversity, and fear.
Without fear, there could be no bravery. When it comes right down to it, being courageous means managing fear as best you can while taking the best course of action available to you.
Courage Is Like a Psychological Muscle.
There are many attributes of courage. Being brave is similar to weight lifting. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. Each time you flex those muscles, you move the needle and take on more weight – or conquer a new fear. Alternatively, the more you’re willing to accept fear as a part of your life and use it as an excuse not to move forward, the easier that path becomes. You get good at the things you practice regularly.
Face Your Fears
- Make a list of things that you’re afraid to do but wish you weren’t.
- It could include seemingly small things, like asking out the cute guy in the finance department or getting on stage for karaoke night;
- It could also include life-changing things, like starting your own business or leaving a bad relationship. (Trust me, I know how scary those big changes can be.)
- Arrange your list in order from least fear-inducing to most fear-inducing.
- Begin at the top (less scary) and work your way down.
“As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.” – Joseph Campbell
When you’re ready to start exercising your courage muscles, there are strategies that will help you develop them. Practice regularly so you can tackle your list and move on to even bigger things.
6 Steps to Cultivate Courage
- Decide that you’re going to conquer your fears. The simple act of deciding means you have cut yourself off from all other possibilities. Declare to yourself that you’re going to tackle your fears one at a time and then boldly move forward.
- Accept the fact that there will be some fear. There are things we can do to mitigate or reduce fear, but we probably can’t eliminate it entirely. And that’s okay. Remember that living courageously means going forward despite any fear you may experience.
- Sit with the idea that fear simply isn’t a good excuse to avoid doing something. Unless you’re literally going to fall off a cliff, being afraid is an insufficient justification for a less rewarding course of action.
- Visualize all the things you’d like to have in your life. Then base your decisions on those goals rather than the fear you’ll need to push through to attain them.
- Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” It’s human nature to feel fear as a knee-jerk reaction to a challenge. But when you take a moment to think about what you’re really afraid of, it might not be so bad.
- Reward yourself. Each time you complete another item on your list, treat yourself. Be proud of yourself – you certainly earned it!
- Recognize that feelings of fear and excitement are very closely related. Is a rollercoaster exciting or scary? It’s a thin line for most people. Horror movies can offer a similar experience. The difference between excitement and terror can be difficult to tease out, but you can learn to harness the adrenaline.
- Shift your mindset: the next time you move towards accomplishing something on your list, channel your feelings of fear into ones of excitement. It is exciting to be courageous, and the rewards are exciting too!
Minimize Fear and Maximize Faith
Use every tool at your disposal to minimize fear and maximize faith in yourself. All kinds of things can help! Here are some suggestions:
- Breathe deeply! Inhale faith. Exhale fear. Repeat.
- Recite a mantra – For example, I am capable and courageous; nothing can stop me. Or, Day by day, I am moving closer to my goals.
- Find your tribe – Surround yourself with positive people who share your values.
- Take the first step. Sometimes all it takes to shake off the fear is one small step in the direction of your goals.
The Sky is the Limit
It’s vital that you cultivate courage. And once you do the sky is the limit to what you can achieve.
You can live courageously. Make your list and start taking action today. The key is to start small and move forward from there. Remember that being courageous is all about moving forward in spite of fear, not the absence of fear. There’s no time like the present to cultivate your courage.
Finally, if you need some extra help in clarifying what it is you truly want and what specific fears might be holding you back, let’s talk. The most courageous people I know have the courage to ask for help when they need it.
Lisa L. Baker is a professional life coach, career strategist, and keynote speaker. Lisa is the founder of Ascentim – a Maryland-based coaching practice that utilizes a unique G.R.O.W. process to help clients gain clarity, realize new possibilities, overcome obstacles, and win at life. Lisa shows high-performing professionals how to Level Up and Live the Life of Their Dreams.