3 Ways To Be Braver in 2018


by Annie F. Downs (Guest)

2018 is going to be different.

Have you said that to yourself yet? Has that sentence rolled through your mind when you looked at your calendar or your friends or your messy closet?

I know. I have too.

And I want it to be true. The annoying science is that obviously, and of course, 2018 is going to be different because every day will be brand new and we’ve never done 2018 before. But we both know that’s not what we are afraid of; we aren’t afraid we are going to wake up and live tomorrow just like today, we are afraid that we are going to get to the end of 2018 and things won’t be different.

Your relationship status won’t be different.

Your weight won’t be different.

Your job situation won’t be different.

Your family won’t be different.

Your issues with God won’t be different.

Your dreams coming true won’t be different.

But 2018 IS going to be different…. Right?  I want it to be.

2017 was a lot of things for me, some things are very different, some things are very the same.

What’s that serenity prayer? Help me to know what I can change and accept what I can't? I’m scared of mixing those up- forcing change where it isn’t meant to be, sitting back and floating through life and suddenly not being anywhere I want to be.

I saw a video on Facebook of a tent that can float on a river. It sounds like an insane idea. Why in the world would you just trust a tent to let you sleep and float all night long? Where in the world would you end up? I don’t think that’s what the serenity prayer means- zip your tent, go to sleep, float down the river, and wherever you wake up, figure it out. That’s a wimpy way to live.

There’s a braver life for you, friend. One that will make this year different. I promise. So here are three very simple ways that you can be braver this year. Do one of these things, or all of them if you’re feeling really enthusiastic about your year, and you will look back on 2018 as when things changed. The world won’t have a choice but to react to your growth and change and choice to be brave.

1.Tell somebody.

Courage isn’t something we can do alone. You’ll never make it. You just won’t. When I first thought about moving to Nashville, I asked a married couple to meet me for dinner at our favorite Mexican spot. They had moved out of the country twice, I just wanted to move up the interstate. I felt safe telling them what was spinning in my head. But I didn’t want to. Something about keeping it to myself made it less real. The first time I said it out loud to them, the atmosphere of my life shifted. I felt it. I knew it in my guts, making this a thing had made it a THING. (I still find that true when I have a crush or an idea or a dream- the minute it’s verbal, it changes.) 

2.Start small.

Being brave doesn’t mean being big. My friend Luke works out a lot and I was amazed to see him use 60 pound dumbbells. But that isn’t where he started. At my house, I have 10 pound dumbbells. And those are just right for me and my goals and my body. Will they always be right? Nope. In fact, I’m shopping for 20 pound dumbbells this weekend. But the 5 pound weights used to be right for me and now they aren’t. Starting small, especially when it comes to courage, is what gives you to power to persevere. The little steps add up, the little yeses and little noes will build your courage muscle and make you stronger than you can imagine. Do the right next thing, the right next step. Do the small thing right in front of you- apply for the job, consider graduate school, go on a short jog, ask that friend to coffee. The steps of courage will walk you right up to the best next thing.

3.Be kind to yourself. 

It’s new and it isn’t easy. We always expect ourselves to perfectly maneuver a new situation, a new spot of courage, even if we’ve never been there before. I do it too. Whether it is professionally or relationally, I have to remind myself that kindness matters, even (especially) when I’m looking in the mirror. It takes a good amount of courage to let yourself try and fail and still be your own cheerleader. Failing at something does not make you a failure, trying something new makes you brave. As you say your brave thing out loud, as you take the small steps towards what you dream of, be kind to yourself.

2018 is going to be different. It’s just up to you what that different looks like. Don’t just float down the river of your life, zipped up in a tent of fear, wondering where this thing stops and having no control. Step out. Be strong. Trust yourself. And then watch what happens- it could be the bravest year of your life.