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One Word: Courage

“Our time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” —Steve Jobs

January is celebrated in many countries as a time to say goodbye to the “old” and welcome the “new” into our lives. It is a month for setting a list of well-intentioned goals for the upcoming year. If you’re like most people, you probably made a list of New Year’s resolutions and are already feeling the dread of failure chomping at your heels.

Oftentimes we make resolutions that are impressed upon us by social pressure and by what we think we “should be” doing. We are listening to the voices in our heads telling us what we ought to do instead listening to our inner wisdom. When our goals are not fully aligned with our life purpose, the chances for success are greatly reduced. So before you decide which resolutions for the year you really want to follow through on, ask yourself, what do you really want?

For this new year, claim the real you. Don’t make resolutions that are going to be cast aside before long because you are not fully committed to them. Take the opportunity to assess who you really are, and follow your life mission to fulfill your destiny.

Awareness is the catalyst for change.

“Profound change comes about not from any ideals or goals but from a realization of cause and effect – how our actions impact our health, lives, society, and the world.” —Jeff Singh

Honest change requires honest awareness. When you clearly see the cause and effect of things, you are naturally inspired to act. Action is how things get done. When there is inspiration, small acts are all it takes to move you in the right direction.

Inspired action has a momentum and ripple effect.

For example, buying a book, signing up for a class, or a coach doesn’t take so long to do but it sets up an entirely new trajectory. Once our decision and priorities are clearly made, new actions and habits naturally follow. Without judgment of living up to some end goal, we are free to simply act out of awareness, to explore possibilities, and enjoy the journey.

New Tradition: One Word

If you recall, last year at this time, I suggested we begin a new tradition — one that involves choosing one word, just for you. Rather than make a list of “shoulds” for the New Year, decide on one word that has meaning for you in some way. A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can be a catalyst for enriching your life and becoming more of who you truly are.

Start by choosing one word to focus on, mediate on, and reflect upon as you go about your daily life. This word will find its way into who you are and into who you are becoming. It will be what you’ve needed (and didn’t know you needed). It will help you to breathe deeper, to see clearer, and to grow.

The first step is to simply take some time and decide what kind of person you want to be at the end of this New Year. Beyond wishing for health and wealth (or going to the gym daily), choose a word that reflects a bit of soul searching. Decide who do you wish to be rather than what you wish to have.

Next identify the characteristics of such a person. Is this person gentle? Is this person generous? What are the qualities of the person you want to become?

Once you have a list of the characteristics, simply choose a word. There might be many things you want to change, so resist the temptation to promise you will do them all. Instead, simply commit to ONE WORD.

Choosing one word will provide you with a lens to see the changes you need to make as well as a way to check in and see if the change is actually happening. You may find this process challenging, however staying focused on your word will help you to stay on course and monitor, with compassion, your progress.

A word of caution: Don’t be surprised if living your “one word” feels unnatural and awkward at first. That is only natural and a sign that you are trying something new, opening to growth and change in yourself. Give it time and stay with it.

For 2017, I have chosen the word COURAGE, which the dictionary defines as “the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation”. It doesn’t say “win” or “eliminate what we are confronting”; rather,  it says we have the choice and can summon the willingness to confront it. I must confess, I have always thought of courage as some grand saving action that a person, much braver than I, does and everyone hears about. As I think about the true meaning of courage, I think of the hundreds, thousands – millions – who face tremendous difficulty every day and still manage to take that next step. And then the next – without anyone but ourselves as a witness. These individuals are the true heroes.

“Courage is nothing more than taking one step more than you think you can.” —Holly Lisle

These words ring true in a powerful way. Courage has little to do with feeling or not feeling fear, with doing heroic deeds (I always thought courage meant heroic deeds), or with conquering life-threatening challenges (although sometimes these challenges occur). Instead, courage is a form of tenaciousness, a holding on and a refusal to quit when you want to quit because you’re weary  or humiliated or hopeless. Courage is as necessary in everyday life as it is in moments of great upheaval, if not more so. In fact, courage is most important in everyday life because not all of us will have the opportunity in our lifetimes to face life threatening situations. It is everyday courage we are talking about here.

The following quote by Theodore Roosevelt beautifully underscores my thoughts:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. It is my hope that we can all find our potential for developing courage, one step at a time, and be the people we were born to be.

What will YOUR one word be this year? What will you focus on for 2017? I invite you to share your word here and join the ONE WORD community for 2017.

Warm wishes for a joyful New Year!


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