Every single big positive change in my life — the kind of change that propelled me to the next level of growth and upgraded my life significantly — has come at a cost.
The cost was my sense of comfort and security for a period of time.
Everything I've accomplished personally and professionally was prefaced by a decision or series of decisions that required boldness.
I had to be bold in choosing uncertainty over the predictable.
I had to be bold in letting go of the old and familiar to go after something new and unfamiliar.
I had to be bold in imagining the possibilities without the promise of manifestation.
I had to be bold to allow myself to feel fear, anxiety, and discomfort during that “in-between” time before you reach the unknown shores of the other side and find safety there.
Of course many great things have happened in my life without boldness or discomfort. People I've encounter who enriched my life. Opportunities that spontaneously appeared on my doorstep. A sudden shift in my self-awareness as a result of reading or hearing something inspirational.
But I'm willing to bet many of those seemingly spontaneous opportunities were somehow the result of a previous bold choice or action. Boldness has a trickle-down effect that continues to impact your life for years.
Being bold seems like a fancy way of saying “feel the fear and do it anyway.” And that's certainly part of the boldness equation. One of the definitions for the word bold that resonates most with me is this one: “beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative.” (Dictionary.com)
Boldness requires imagination. It requires stretching your limits and pushing past the status quo in thought and action. This is more than just feeling fear and acting in spite of it. If you want to be bold, you need a creative vision for something better — a reason to get on that wobbly boat and cross the rough and murky waters to get to the other side.
Your vision may not be perfectly clear. In fact, it might simply be the feeling that you know there must be something better than this. If you're feeling that way, then believe this: there is something better. So use that belief as your vision.
If your life is boring, uninspired, depressing, anxiety-filled, unhappy, or without purpose, then it's time for you to embrace boldness and demand creative change from yourself. As I mentioned, those big mind shifts that offer the greatest rewards require bold action.
If you're ready to be bold and create big change in your life, here are 20 ideas to kickstart it:
Where in your life are you feeling flatlined or unhappy? In your work, your relationships, your personal development, your creativity? Find the low-hanging fruit that's triggering your doldrums. If there's more than one area, choose the one that could foster the most positive results or rewards if you make change.
2. Define and analyze
Define exactly what you have been doing in this area, your status quo behaviors you repeat day in and day out that have led you to your feelings of unhappiness or boredom. What daily, weekly, and yearly actions and choices have led you to this point? Then analyze which of those choices and actions seem to hold you back the most or make you the most unhappy.
3. Imagine your vision
Begin to imagine a new vision for this area of your life. In a perfect world, exactly how would you want this area to look. Get specific with your vision — what would you be doing? Who would you be with? How would it look and feel? How would you be a different person with this new vision? Write down as much as you can about your vision, even if some of it is unclear.
Look at books, blogs, magazines, movies or anything else that can offer inspiration and advice on how other people have lived out your vision. Look at a wide variety of resources in genres you haven't explored before. For example, if you're longing to live somewhere else, don't research cities similar to the one you live in now or on the same side of the country. Broaden your field of exploration to seek out completely new and different ideas.
5. Find bold people
In addition to research and reading, seek out people who have done bold things, made big changes in their lives, or taken an entirely new direction. Pick their brains, explore their vision and how they made it a reality. Bask in the excitement of their successes and let that excitement infect you.
6. Practice creativity
Even before you begin to act on your vision, you can practice creative change in your work and personal life. Before you launch in to a project, don't proceed in the same old fashion. Ask yourself, “How can I do this differently? What would be a new approach?” In your relationships, ask yourself, “How can I add fun and creativity to my next interaction? How can I respond to this person differently, in a happier and healthier way?”
7. Shake up routines
Begin to shake up your most basic daily routines to practice the discomfort of newness. Drive a different route to work. Change up the order of your morning routine. Step outside in the middle of the day (if you don't already). Break up boring habits and keep yourself slightly on the edge.
8. Start making things happen
Rather than waiting for life or people to present you with offers or opportunities, create your own in small and manageable ways. Initiate an idea or project. Invite friends over for a spontaneous dinner party. Speak to a new person at a party and make a connection. Attend a meet-up or networking event. Become an instigator rather than a responder.
9. Define your values
Whatever big changes you decide to make in your life, the result needs to be aligned with your core values. These values are the defining principles for your life, and if you are out-of-alignment with them, you'll never be happy and fulfilled. If you don't know your values, take a look at this list of 400 value words to get some ideas.
10. Create a vision board
This may sound silly, especially for the non-crafty types. But a vision board is not only fun to create, but also it helps you clarify your vision and keeps you motivated as you continue to define and work toward bold actions to make your vision a reality. A vision board is simply a poster board or foam core board with images and words from magazines glued to it that represent elements of your vision. Here's an example:
Go back to your written vision and update or add to it according to anything new you've learned about yourself or your desires for change based on your research, values, and vision board creation. You may need to refine your vision several times before you have it exactly as you want it to be. A vision is usually fluid anyway, so don't worry if you change it several times.
12. Begin your bold plan
Go back and review the status quo behaviors you defined in point #2. Start thinking about new and different actions and behaviors to replace the old ways. What are some very small, specific actions you can take to facilitate change in these status quo behaviors or actions. Write these down and two or three a week on your calendar for the next month. Then repeat this process at the beginning of a new month — or proceed with the same actions if you need to continue with them.
13. Test one big change
Your vision requires many small changes and decisions that will lead you to change. For the most part, it's easier and more manageable to begin down change into small and manageable actions. But test your boldness ability by tackling one “jump off the cliff” action or decision. Do something that makes you breathless to see how you cope with calculated risk or dramatic change.
14. Find a supporter or mentor
Being bold is scary. Seek out a support partner or mentor who has your back and can challenge you to take the actions you need to take. Be sure it's someone you trust and who understands the power of boldness.
15. Begin saying what you think
I'm not suggesting you be rude, hurtful, or even intentionally shocking. But often we hold back our opinions or beliefs for fear of offending or not fitting in. Practice being fully yourself by saying what you think and embracing your truth.
16. Stop people pleasing
Being bold and following your own vision might mean making others uncomfortable or unhappy. You do need to consider the needs of your spouse and family, but otherwise you must make your choices based on what is best for you. You can't sacrifice your vision at the alter of other people's good will.
17. Remember this truth
Most of the time what we fear about change doesn't come to pass. Or if it does occur, it is far less painful than we imagined. And even if it is immediately very painful, the pain will subside and you'll eventually reap the benefits of the change or decision. There have been a few choices in my life that caused profound initial pain, but they resulted in a better life in the end. It was worth walking through fire to get there.
18. Embrace your worthiness
Beyond the fear of discomfort, one of the main reasons people aren't bold is because they don't feel worthy of a bold life. We are ALL worthy of the most exciting, thrilling, amazing life we can create for ourselves. I guarantee that the slow and steady water torture drip of the status quo demands more energy and angst that the sting of decisive and bold action. Shout from the cliff, “I am worthy!!!” — and then take the leap with arms outspread.
19. Have fun in everything
Most of us take life too seriously. We focus on our pains and problems and the possibility of pains and problems in the future. We dwell on the negative and obliterate the sunshine beaming on us from all around. Save serious for the really big things and allow yourself to have fun, to explore your vision, to make mistakes and learn from them, to see the beauty in the moment.
20. Make boldness your motto
Put the word bold in front of your name. In everything you do, every choice you make, every part of your vision you act upon, ask yourself, “Am I doing this boldly?” Envision yourself as a bold person, willing to act, to be decisive, to take a chance, to be creative, to give it your best. The mediocre, boring, uninspired, path of least resistance is no longer for you. Shake up your life and be bold in all things.
How do you practice boldness in your life? Do you have a bold vision to facilitate dramatic, positive change? Please share in the comments below.
photo credit: Paul Bratcher Photography via photopin