The Courage to Create the Life of Your Dreams

Courage is defined as "a quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty without fear" and "acting according to your beliefs despite criticism". The word comes from the Latin root "cor" and later the French root "cour" meaning "heart".

So courage is a quality that comes from your heart. Remember this point – it means it’s always with you and no one can ever take it away.

About a year ago my sister and I were talking about quitting our jobs and starting our own businesses. When I told her my plan to start a business mentoring people making the transition from employee to entrepreneur she said “you need to talk to people about courage”.

She was right, but what a difficult task! It took me years to be brave enough to make the change from employee to entrepreneur. So I started thinking about the things that finally allowed me to move past the fear.

Susan Jeffers wrote a very popular book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. In the book she says “it takes courage to mold your life the way you want it to be. There are all sorts of real and imagined obstacles that get in the way. They need not deter you.”

But that’s exactly what we do – we let the obstacles deter us and we don’t go after our dreams. Some obstacles will be real (how will I pay the bills?) and some will be imagined (I’m afraid I’ll become a bag lady if I quit my job).

So if there are obstacles, how do we get past them?

Here are 4 things you can do to help move past the fear and succeed anyway:

1. Be yourself. Call it authenticity, finding your life purpose, or doing what you love to do. We spend most of our lives being what other people want us to be and doing what they want us to do. Dare to be yourself.

"It takes courage to do what you want. Other people have a lot of plans for you. Nobody wants you to do what you want to do." -Joseph Campbell

Being authentic or doing what you love to do stimulates excitement and gives you the courage to move forward. If you’ve lost touch with your dreams and you need some time to explore what you love to do, click here for help.

2. Have a clear vision of what you want. If you are transitioning from employee to entrepreneur, you need to have a clear vision of why you want to do this and the results you want to achieve. You need to imagine what your life will look like when you have achieved your dreams. You don’t need to save the world – you only need a clear vision that is meaningful for you. Meaningful enough to feel excitement and have the courage to move forward.

For example, my sister wanted to reclaim her life from a 2 hr/day commute and long work hours. She knew she could accomplish her work without going to the office every day so she submitted a proposal to work from home 1 or 2 days a week. Her boss refused so after careful consideration she decided to become a freelancer and work from home full-time with multiple clients, not just one employer. She envisioned a better work environment where she had enough time to take care of herself and her business.

“Courage is the power to let go of the familiar” – Raymond Lindquist

Ask yourself “why do I want to do this?” until you have a clear answer that feels exciting to you. Maybe you want to have enough time to watch your kids grow up. Or maybe you’re looking for work that is creative and fulfilling. Maybe you want a portable business so you can live in the mountains during the winter and ski every day.

It’s your life. How do you want to live it?

For tools to help you create a clear vision, click here.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon

3. Have a plan and take baby steps. This means take some small action every day toward your dreams. Action is powerful. It helps you build momentum. Even small actions add up over time. Every action adds self-confidence and courage. It won’t seem like much at the time, but over time you will get closer to making your dream a reality.

Often we become paralyzed because there is so much to do and we don't know where to start, or we don’t know how to do something, and then we don’t do anything. So you need a plan. You can make a formal business plan or just a long list of all the things that need to be done. There are tools to help you, one is a Mind Map.

Each day choose one item from your plan (or list) and take one action toward accomplishing that item. If it’s a big item break it into smaller pieces until you find at least 1 thing you can accomplish. You can do more than one thing, of course.

One of the steps I wanted to accomplish before I quit my job was to build a website for my business. I was anxious to get started and thought it would be simple. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I didn’t make progress until I started following my own advice.

I created a vision for my business and website (yes, even websites need a vision!), laid out a plan for the content and learned about building websites. With a clear vision, a plan and a little knowledge about websites I was suddenly able to break it into little pieces and tackle each one at a time. And my website took form even while I was working full time at my job.

“Courage can’t see around corners, but goes around them anyway.” – Mignon McLaughlin

4. Find support. This means finding a small group of people who can help you succeed. Barbara Sher calls them Success Teams. Napoleon Hill calls them Masterminds, some people call them Dream Teams. Susan Jeffers calls it a Cheering Squad.

Whatever you want to call them, we all need a small group of people who will give us encouragement (courage), inspiration, motivation and accountability throughout the career change process. It could be your spouse, your friends, your sister, or strangers who have been down this path before.

Sometimes the people closest to you don’t want you to change and can’t offer support. Or they can’t offer support because they don’t understand the direction you’re going. But there are millions of people who have done this before – find a mentor, a coach or a mastermind team to help you.

“Courage is being scared to death . . . and saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne

In addition to the tips above, there are many books and CD’s available to give you inspiration and information when you’re making a major life change. Use as many resources as you need, follow the tips above, and keep taking action every day. You’ll get there.

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