(Excerpt from my Book Brave New Life)
It was a week before my 28th birthday and I had had one of the worst weeks of my life. Walking out of the doctors office with the knowledge that I had thyroid cancer and would spend the next who knows how long seeking to be cured was how the week began. The uncertainty about what the next year would bring was like carrying a 500 pound backpack on my back. To add to the weight, I was let go from my job a couple of days later, and the uncertainty of how I was going to take care of myself was almost unbearable. Not to mention I had just started my business and honestly felt like I was flailing in so many ways.
At this point I was just one month into the gestation of my business, ONE MONTH, I hadn't even launched yet, but at least I had something to cling onto that was all mine and meant the world to me. I had the temptation to quit altogether and go into survival mode, but my wonderful mother told me that I better not let any of this stop me, am I ever so grateful for her wisdom and support.
Because you see, even when it feels like nothing may be going right, if we have a big picture, reinforcement, vision, and a why, then we can always find the motivation to execute.
First let’s talk about courage. Because without courage, you will get nowhere. Courage is another word for freedom, let me explain…
When I first drove into San Diego in the summer of 2018 I found myself on a cliff overlooking the ocean watching para-sailers glide above the water. And I contemplated what real freedom looks like… or feels like rather. It seemed to me that there would be no freer feeling than flying through the air, though the thought of it also felt terrifying.
So what is freedom and what does freedom feel like?
The Dictionary says that freedom is “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint or action; It is the liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another. Independence, or the state of being exempt or released from something onerous.”
So then, if freedom is liberation from something that holds you captive, how then do you gain that liberation from something you fear?
To me, freedom feels like stepping through the fear you feel about something, anything and just going for it. Courage comes from action. You cannot gain courage without stepping through the fear.
So see… Courage literally is just another word for freedom.
Many people think that in order to gain freedom from fear they have to DO something to develop courage and then the thing they fear will no longer be scary. This belief keeps them stuck from ever moving forward because this is simply not how it works.
We have to move through the fear and literally prove to ourselves that we have no need to be scared of it.
Fear is another word for anxiety. One of my favorite descriptions I’ve ever heard for anxiety is fear that has kept you paralyzed for so long that it has been built up and built up that it seems unbearable and overwhelmingly scary. It’s like a balloon that you have poured hot air into for so long that it feels it’s about to pop. Now, I’m not saying that there are not legitimate cases of anxiety, but next time you feel an anxiety attack coming on, take a deep breath, and ask yourself what it is that you’re afraid of.
I promise you that as you begin to take steps THROUGH the fear you will develop COURAGE and find ultimate FREEDOM.
When I think of the word courage one of the first things that comes to my mind is the first time I ever came to San Diego. I was 23 years old, I’ve never done one thing completely alone, and I was aching to get out of the cold, dismal, Utah winter. It was two years after my divorce, I was in the middle of finally going through therapy to overcome the experience that was my failed marriage, and I was desperately seeking LIBERATION.
So I decided that what that looked like to me was driving all the way from Logan, Utah to San Diego (a 13 hour drive, that seems hilarious to me now with all the solo traveling I’ve done and long cross country drives I’ve done since, but that’s the point… fear is overcome a little at a time.) I didn’t tell my parents about it until the day before I planned to leave because I knew they would try and talk me out of it (which they did. haha) But I was determined.
The day after my birthday I woke up at 5:30 am, got ready, and began the 13-hour descent down south. 7 hours later I found myself in Las Vegas, the farthest I’d ever been on my own before that, and I had a total breakdown. I felt such anxiety about what I was about to do and literally wasn’t sure if I could go on.
“This is crazy” I was thinking. “What am I thinking? I’m going to get kidnapped!” came through my mind. I all the sudden felt terrified that I didn’t know what I would do if my car broke down in the middle of the desert or if I would have enough money to make it there and back. I found myself sitting in a Jimmy John’s, eating a sandwich, crying my eyes out out in fear.
A man that worked at Jimmy Johns came and sat at the booth across from me and literally consoled me and gave me the pep talk I needed to continue going (people in Las Vegas truly are some of the nicest, most hospitable people, at least that was always my experience).
So I got back in my car, and I continued on the drive, 6 more hours to San Diego, where I spent a beautiful weekend riding my bike, writing in my journal, doing things by myself that I didn’t know I could do, and healing. I consider this period of time my quarter life crisis and was the beginning of what began the journey that formed my message I spread in my business.
This was the weekend my passion was born.
I am passionate about helping people see that they CAN overcome their anxieties and fears and that they CAN do all the things they dream about doing. I remember the following week when I returned back to my job in Logan, Utah so many of the older women commended me and said they could not believe I had done that alone. I decided more women needed to know that they could do things on their own and that they were powerful beyond measure.
Like I’ve said, since then I have driven so much farther distances, moved by myself and started over in new cities several times, and traveled solo all through Europe. People ask me if I get scared, and the answer is no.
I found FREEDOM that weekend in San Diego, when I pressed through my fears in Las Vegas and found courage through action.
I love that this story is full circle now that I have moved to San Diego and have continued my courageous journey in other endeavors now. I have never been happier than I am now and I know it is because I am living out my purpose, it fills me with passion and vigor, and I get to take courageous action every day.
So what about you?
What are you afraid of? What are you sitting on? What are you allowing to cause you anxiety and pent up fear? What could you release? What if discovering your purpose and passion was right on the other side of that fear? What if it just took a baby step of action, a little at a time, before you would look back and wonder why you were ever scared. That’s what freedom and liberation look like, no longer being afraid of something that held you captive before.
What can you let go of? What can you step into? Who do you want to be? What do you want to do?
And this is the other thing about execution…
You think you have it all planned out. You think you know exactly what is going to happen to you and then, bam! things change, you get sick, you change your mind for the 500th time, you learn something new, you meet someone exciting, and the list goes on and on.
A good friend once said to me, "I am always making plans, but never expect them to work out." I love that. We have to plan. We wouldn't get anywhere if we didn't, but a lot less heartache comes when we learn how to embrace the unexpected, take opportunities when they come, and accept that life is messy. It is a series of twists and turns that just makes life all the more interesting and exciting.
Sometimes it can get frustrating when you have an end goal or something in mind that you really really want to have happen, and you can see it in the distance, but it seems the road to get there keeps getting more and more long and twisty.
So... how to do we remain calm and connected to our goals and dreams when it feels like we are on a windy road of the scenic route to who knows where?
How do we EXECUTE successfully even when we can’t plan perfectly for the future? You stay connected to your goals and dreams...for the long haul.
1. Begin with the End in Mind - (Big Picture)
Start every goal or project with a vision of exactly what you want to have happen. What does it look like. What will it feel like to accomplish or attain that thing? What does it smell like? Imagine every aspect of it clearly in your mind. Write it down. Make is so real you can feel it.
2. Create a Road Map - (Action Plan)
Nothing gets done without a plan, and although we will expect the road map to change, get longer, and have detours, without the plan we will never begin. So flex your pro-active muscles and outline the steps it will take you to reach your goal.
3. Plan for the Unexpected -
The best way to cope with unexpected set-backs is to plan for them ahead of time. While making your road map, think about the possible things that may set you back and then create a plan for how you will deal with them.
Maybe your goal is to learn how to play the guitar--so think about the things that may set you back... sore finger... no time to practice... no money to buy a guitar... now how will you cope with these? Making a practicing schedule so you make the time and don't overdo it? Making a plan to save money to buy a guitar, checking out your local thrift store for deal.
Maybe your goal is to find your dream relationship-- what are the things that may set you back? dating woes... break-ups... introducing them to family... there are so many (and I'm familiar with them all! haha)... so how do we cope with these? Knowing ourselves and how we handle break-ups, self-care, self-care, self-care, sustaining other relationships through the process.
We don't want to plan to fail, but we do want to have a strategy in place for set-backs so that we don't get completely derailed when things go wrong.
4. Concentrate on One (sometimes baby) Step at a Time -
I don't know about you, but every once in a while I catch myself laying in bed and instead of concentrating on the beautiful destination I'm working so hard to get to, I start thinking about all the things that will need to happen in the middle and that usually leads to an absolute anxiety attack. For reals.
The trick here is once you have created a plan and figured out your coping mechanisms for the unexpected, then set them aside and focus on where you are RIGHT NOW. Take one step at a time and don't even allow yourself to think about what's next until you're ready to move forward. Be unavailable to overwhelm and be present in your current situation. (easier said than done, especially if you're a planner like me, but YOU CAN DO IT!)
5. Celebrate the Little Things -
And then last, but NOT least, CELEBRATE THE SMALL VICTORIES along the way. When things do go the way you want them to, celebrate it! When things go wrong and you conquer the unexpected, celebrate it! When part of the process is taking far longer than you wanted or expected, celebrate where you are and find gratitude in all that you do have!
Remember... ”Everything worth having is worth working for and waiting for."
It will work out in the end. Stay the course, no matter how long or twisty the way. Embrace the unexpected, take opportunities when they come, and accept that life is messy. It is a series of twists and turns that just makes life all the more interesting and exciting. But what is waiting at the end of that twisty road is completely worth it.