When I think of Halloween, I go back to my childhood of witches and ghosts and vampires. I also think about haunted houses, hay rides and FEAR. When I was a kid, it was kind of fun to get scared – going into a haunted house was sure to spike the adrenalin, but deep down I knew no matter what, I was safe. Little did I know that the Halloweens of my childhood were simply me learning to practice courage.
As we get older, our fears often grow. We use these fears (excuses) as ways to keep our world small and safe. We stay in a mind-numbing job because we are afraid. We don’t get into a new relationship because we might get hurt. We don’t wear a sexy dress out to dinner because we are afraid of what other people would think. We don’t write a book because we are afraid it will be stupid. We tell ourselves that we don’t deserve success or happiness.
What we are doing is letting our fears get in the way of stepping into the life our hearts know we are meant to live. We’re really limiting ourselves with societal beliefs. We are strangling our creativity and joy for life.
I want you to live a bigger, bolder, more fulfilled life. I don’t want you to settle because you are afraid.
In honor of the Halloween Season, I want you to do things that scare you. Make 10 Acts of Courage in the next month.
Courage will look different to everyone. For some people, giving a presentation to 100 people is easy; to others, it’s courageous. I’m not asking you to Sky Dive (unless it’s on your bucket list!). I’m asking you to make your world bigger by stepping into your courage.
You are building your courage with baby steps.
I know that it can be terrifying to make changes. I also know that when we begin to regularly create a practice, it will set a foundation for change and growth. Building your courage muscle takes time, but just as each day of exercise makes your body stronger, so, too, will you become stronger in spirit with each act of courage. You will gain confidence. You will learn to embrace all the good in your life. You will fall in love with yourself!
Courage, at its core, is about strengthening your relationship with yourself, which is why I’m challenging you not just to make 10 Acts of Courage over the next month, but we’re actually going to create a Courage Agreement!
What’s a Courage Agreement?
Like a Peace Agreement, a Courage Agreement is a written vow with yourself. Writing something down cements the intent, and gives you something to look at as the month goes on. Besides, you wouldn’t want to renege on a contract with yourself, would you?
Step One – Download your very own Courage Agreement. (or create your own)
Step Two – Write down 10 acts of courage you will make over the next month.
Step Three – Write down a TREAT you will give yourself upon completion (hey – it’s a celebration of Halloween and “Trick or Treating!”)
Step Four – Just DO IT!
Need some ideas for Step Two? Some of them are big. Some of them seem small. Some of them seem silly. But they’re not. It’s all about stepping into a little discomfort as we build our courage muscles and step away from our fears!
Here are 100 ways to practice courage.
- Learn a new language
- Start a blog
- Write a novel in a month
- Write 750 Words a Day for a Month
- If you are a planner, do something spontaneous.
- If you are spontaneous, plan something in advance and stick to it.
- De-clutter your closet, getting rid of everything there that you don’t love and/or that doesn’t fit
- Host a dinner party.
- Get up in the morning after having a bad day yesterday. Be nice to yourself and start fresh.
- Give yourself the gift of routines by creating a morning and evening routine.
- Join Toastmasters.
- Attend the symphony, ballet, or opera.
- Go to a haunted house.
- Try a new recipe.
- Host Thanksgiving – and yes, cook a turkey!
- Try a new restaurant
- Take a yoga class
- Join a gym
- Hire a life coach.
- Take a painting class.
- Take a cooking class.
- Teach yourself to make Classic Cocktails.
- Learn Ballroom Dancing.
- Sign up for an e-course
- Write a love letter to your sweetheart
- Write a gratitude letter to a friend
- Hire a professional to write a letter for you
- Be a tourist in your own hometown
- Slow down when you’re grocery shopping – nod, smile and speak to others you pass
- Hire someone to clean your house
- Teach a workshop on something you know how to do.
- Find an accountability partner. Schedule regular meetings with each other.
- Double a recipe and share it with a neighbor.
- Start a mastermind group with at least two other people.
- Decide that your desire to be happy is an adequate reason to say no to requests of your time.
- Honor your needs first.
- Buy flowers for a lover
- Buy flowers for yourself
- Buy flowers, visit a cemetery and place the flowers on a long-neglected grave
- Choose one room of your home to “make-over”. Get rid of everything in that room you don’t love
- Decide to tackle another room next month!
- Research your family’s genealogy.
- Tell someone you love them
- Sign a Peace Agreement
- Share your Courage Agreement with a Friend
- Ask your friends to create a courage agreement
- Make a play date with your partner
- Join a writer’s group.
- Worry less. Act more
- Take a last-minute trip overseas.
- Buy yourself some sexy underwear.
- Indulge in a pair of old-fashioned stockings
- Enter a writing contest.
- Decide to let go of some emotional baggage.
- Start your own business.
- Ask someone out on a date.
- Take yourself on a date – go to a movie and/or a fancy restaurant alone.
- Go to bed early every day for a week. You deserve adequate sleep.
- Take a road trip to a nearby town.
- Order business cards for yourself – YES, for your “side” business. Be bold. Title yourself as WRITER, ARTIST, SPEAKER.
- Eat at an ethnic restaurant you never considered before.
- Listen more. Talk less. (Remember that listening doesn’t mean waiting to say your piece.)
- Hire a trainer.
- Attend a lecture.
- Disconnect from technology.
- Invite a neighbor over for coffee.
- Ask an acquaintance out for lunch.
- Host a “game night” at your home with old-fashioned board games.
- Start a book club.
- Test-drive a luxury car. Act as if you could buy it if you wanted it.
- Go to an open house.
- End a relationship that drains you or hurts you. You deserve to be happy.
- Start a mediation practice.
- Start a prayer list – and pray every morning.
- Go to a nursing home and visit the residents
- Take time to talk to a stranger.
- Call an elder relative and ask for a story from their childhood.
- Create a collection of favorite family anecdotes and create a book as a holiday gift for your family members.
- Create a collection of family recipes.
- Quit smoking.
- Take different routes to work once a week.
- Get lost on purpose.
- Wake up at 5am and write.
- Question your assumptions.
- Stop making excuses.
- Admit it when you’re wrong.
- Write a fan letter to your grocery store to applaud an employee that delights you.
- Question your assumptions.
- Make a list of incomplete items in your life and pick one to tackle. Chunk away at it in fifteen minute increments.
- Visit a new church.
- Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line at Starbucks.
- Give yourself credit for facing your fears and taking action – it isn’t about the outcome, it’s about you taking action in your life.
- Get political – instead of complaining to your friends and family, call your city council representative, state senators, or Congress people, and voice your opinion.
- Take an improvisational comedy class.
- Wake up early and walk your dog before work.
- Leave work on time.
- Take a “Mental Health Day” from work.
I promise you, at the end of the month, your Courage Muscles will be stronger and your life broader. And at the end of the month, after you’ve rewarded yourself of course, what should you do? Create another Courage Agreement for the next month and allow yourself to fall more madly in love with YOU!
What about you? Are you willing to take the challenge? What ideas do you have to add to this list?
(Image is All Smiles by Gil Elvgren)