At the beginning of every fresh new year, I choose a word that will act as my guiding theme for the next 12 months. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and every time my guiding word has helped me to make decisions that align with my goals, and it has created a point of focus for me, which is always particularly helpful when difficulties or challenges crop up throughout the year.
My word for 2016 is BRAVE.
To me, being brave doesn’t mean being fearless; being brave means stepping towards what scares me. Being brave is about facing these situations head on. It means being courageous when my natural instinct is to run away.
It’s about adventure and trying new things. It’s about choosing experiences that I’ve been avoiding or putting off for years because of fear. (It might not include skydiving or bungee jumping – but it might?!)
I want to be brave in my daily life. I want to make brave decisions, not just choices that are obvious or safe. I want to be vulnerable with the people I love, and show up as the most authentic version of me, every day.
For someone with a history of anxiety, choosing to live bravely is not a natural thing to do. Brave would never have been my word a few years ago.
As a Leo sign, I also love the connection of the words Brave and Lion-hearted. Maybe living bravely is closer to my true nature than I thought?
10 Ways to Be Brave in 2016
Inspired by this gorgeous post by Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim, I created a printable list of 10 ways to be brave this year. If you’d like to download a copy of my list for yourself, click on the image and it will take you to the file in Google Drive. I printed a copy for myself and it’s sitting proudly on my vision board as a daily reminder of my commitment to be brave.
1. Declare your intentions (publicly!)
Why is it brave to make your goals public knowledge?
Because sometimes we hold our hopes and dreams inside us and we’re too afraid to admit what we really want out of our lives.
Have the courage to share your dreams and intentions with the world (or at least with the people you love) and you might even inspire them to go after their hidden desires as well.
2. Do something creative
So many people falsely believe that they aren’t creative. But the truth is, every person on this planet is a creative being. ‘Creative’ and ‘artistic’ aren’t the same thing; creativity is simply the act of making something that didn’t exist before. This could be painting, drawing, writing, photography, cooking, blogging, building, crafting, designing, exploring, or anything else that involves making something new.
Sharing our authentic selves by embracing our creativity is one of the bravest actions we can take. And people that fill themselves up with creative pursuits aren’t just braver, they’re happier too.
3. Take a new path
Try something new. Make an unexpected decision. Be spontaneous. Order something different off the menu. Give up an unhealthy habit. Swim against the current. Cut your hair. Speak up when you would normally stay quiet. Book a mystery flight. Read outside your favourite genre. Show up to a party alone. Quit social media for a month.
Dare to be different: to the people around you, and to who you were yesterday.
When you make a mistake, be brave enough to raise your hand and say sorry. When we can’t own up to our mistakes and failures, we corrode the integrity of our relationships; apologizing when we are wrong will usually strengthen the bond. It takes courage to apologize when there is no guarantee that we’ll be forgiven.
5. Say “I love you”
There’s no experience more vulnerable than loving someone. In love, there are no guarantees. So telling the people that we love how important they are to us is, in my opinion, the bravest thing that we can do. I love LOVE, and I tell my loved ones that I love them all them time. But this year I plan to say “I love you” in more meaningful ways. I want my people to be 100% sure that I love them.
When it comes down to it, everyone just wants to feel like they are loved and that they belong. Make 2016 the year you spread love around like confetti, and I bet your love is returned a thousand times over.
6. Forgive someone who has hurt you (or forgive yourself)
Forgiveness is the greatest gift that you can give yourself. Remember: forgiving someone doesn’t mean that they were right, and it doesn’t mean that what happened was OK. It means that you are choosing to let go of the anger and resentment that you’ve been carrying, so that they no longer have any power over you. When you forgive (others or yourself) you can finally move on.
7. Lean into scary emotions
The next time you feel sad or angry or disappointed or afraid, don’t stuff down the feeling or numb yourself with your vice of choice. Instead, bravely lean into the emotion. Feel it in your body. Acknowledge it. But don’t rush to act on it.
And the next time you feel joy or love or passion, really let yourself feel it. Acknowledge it. Express your gratitude. Jump into it with both feet, even though you know that it could be taken away at any moment.
Living (bravely) like that is what I call living a FULL life.
8. Say “Yes” to new opportunities
We don’t have to do the same old things, just because that’s what we’ve always done. Being brave involves saying “Yes” to uncertainty. The next time a new opportunity or adventure comes my way, and it’s something that sparks a fire inside me, I promise to say “Yes”.
9. Say “No” to anything that doesn’t light you up
And sometimes it’s even more brave to say “No” when you don’t have the time, energy or genuine interest to follow through with a request. I want to be brave by creating boundaries and enforcing them. That might not sound adventurous or exciting, but it’s something that I struggle with, which means that I’ll need to be brave to commit to it.
10. Share your story
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do” | Brené Brown
In choosing Brave as my guiding word, I was heavily influenced by the incredible books of Dr Brené Brown. If you haven’t watched her amazing TED talks, you can see them here and here. Brené is a shame and vulnerability researcher, and her most recent book, Rising Strong, discusses the process of getting back up after a failure. One of the key elements of the “rising strong process” is that you must acknowledge and own your story, especially the challenges.
This year, I want to take this one step further and continue to share my experiences through my writing. And I really hope that you will share your stories too.
I hope this post has inspired you to live BRAVELY this year. Thanks for coming on this crazy journey with me.
How will you be BRAVE in 2016?
Do you have a guiding word for the year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!