For the last two years, I’ve decided to have a one-word goal. It would be my mantra throughout the year, pushing me forward, and helping me stay committed to what I was trying to achieve.
Last year, it was FOCUS. I was determined. I would keep my blinders on as I worked towards my goals—one of them being to finish my two books (The Marinara Theory and Marianna Mystery: Behind the Lens). And I did. Even when I felt like quitting, I hunkered down and kept my eyes on my vision.
This year, my word is BOLD. Taking risks, doing things outside my comfort zone, (GULP) EXPOSING myself in arenas and avenues that are honestly uncomfortable for me. But, uncomfortable is good. That is how you enlarge your comfort zone.
My mother often uses the analogy of a hermit crab to explain risk-taking. Hermit crabs outgrow their old shells and must find larger, newer ones. Well, to do so, they must LOSE their old shell. And when they do, before they enter a NEWER, LARGER one, they are out in the world shell-less and exposed. They are unprotected from the elements. They could decide to stay in the old shell, but if they did, they would eventually die. The risk of changing shells is needed for their growth.
I remind myself of this as I take BOLD steps this year. I have been taking a lot of risks and that feeling of PAINFUL EXPOSURE—feeling that people are laughing at my silliness and ridiculous choices—DOES present itself. At first, it was downright unsettling and put me in a tailspin of depression. Some of these risks are known by my friends (in many cases, to move forward, this is necessary); in many cases, I am putting myself out there to those who do not know me. I am SHOWING UP, saying “Yes” to opportunities and betting on myself. And boy, has this caused a huge feeling of insecurity . . . while at the same time, a feeling of EMPOWERMENT. Many of these actions have resulted in immediate positive responses.
This BOLDNESS is also not without failure. It’s not just “nos” I hear, but sometimes, it’s the sound of silence. I often ask myself if I’m fooling myself. Are my efforts are worth it?
And the answer is YES, it is worth it. Sure I may need to re-evaluate, re-strategize, and re-tool. But, no efforts are wasted if you learn from them. Each effort brings you a step closer to your goal. As I take my BOLD steps, I have noticed that – like the hermit crabs – I have outgrown things—habits, lifestyle choices. I have even outgrown old fears (often replacing them with new fears that, I suspect, I will also outgrow one day). I have outgrown the need to worry about what others think of me. I have become more comfortable in my newer, bolder skin.
So, while all my dreams and goals have not been fully realized (although looking back, I have gotten so much closer and already achieved so much), I have already noticed that my bold actions have changed my demeanor and confidence. I am now COMFORTABLE in what I ENVISION my goals to be. I am BOLDLY accepting that outcome. I feel WORTHY to accept. And honestly, IF I CAN DO that, ANYONE CAN.
“. . . man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back.”
– John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath