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Courage is a Choice

choose courage

What is preventing you from the relentless pursuit of your most cherished dreams? Is it circumstances? Are you keeping your dreams on hold thinking that as soon as your situation changes you will seize the opportunity and go for it?

If that is what you’ve been telling yourself then you might want to examine your situation a little further.  Is it possible that there is something else holding you back?

Could it possibly be some underlying fear that you haven’t quite come to grips with?

Choose courage – don’t let fear rob you of your dreams  

There is an incredible array of fears that can influence us in many subtle and deceptive ways. So much so that we often don’t even recognize their existence. Besides, even if we do recognize their presence, it does not necessarily mean that we will have the courage to break through those fears and take action.

Sometimes, we knowingly allow fear to stand between us and our dreams. Sadly, if we do that long enough, chances are, we will eventually abandon our dreams and rationalize our choice with logical sounding excuses.

This does not need to happen to you. You don’t have to allow fear to hinder your actions and destroy your dreams! With a simple shift in perspective, you can learn to transform that fear energy into excitement and use that positive energy to your advantage.

The shift to courage!

Learning to shift our focus away from what we stand to lose, and toward what we stand to gain, will completely change our perception of the situation. This simple shift can quickly leave us feeling more courageous and eager to take action!

Many people are in the habit of seeing the negative side of any challenging situation. If we focus more on how big the challenge seems, instead of the potential benefits, we will resist taking action because all we can see is the potential, negative risks involved. The more we focus on the possibility of loss the more fear we create.

With this kind of mindset, wanting to move forward toward our dreams probably won’t provide enough incentive to overcome these fears. As a result, we will continuously hold ourselves back and end up accomplishing far less than we are capable of.

What are the positive and negative possibilities?

You may find it helpful to make a list of any specific fears you have and get them out in the open. In each situation that leaves you feeling hesitant or fearful, try to evaluate exactly what is holding you back. What is it that you are afraid will happen and why? Are those things really likely to occur, or is there only a slight chance?

Then use a separate sheet of paper and create a list of the benefits you stand to gain by moving forward. Be as specific and optimistic as you can. Remember that dread and fear will amplify your perception of the negative possibilities, which can make the positive benefits seem significantly smaller or less important. So, you may need to work a little harder at emphasizing the positive.

Use this information to make a balanced decision

Looking over these two lists should give you a more balanced view of your options. It will also provide the clarity you need to decide whether to move forward or not. You may decide that you have valid reasons to hang back a bit longer, and it’s perfectly fine as long as you aren’t allowing unrealistic fears to decide for you.

If you see that the possible negative consequences are more than you are willing to accept at this time, you can either come up with some less risky options, or simply hold off and reevaluate at a later time. Deciding to back off can require just as much courage as deciding to move forward, but in this case, your decision is based on sound reasoning rather than emotional paranoia.

Don’t let fear get in your way

If you do decide that the time to take action is now, you may still need to work at building up your courage a bit before you act. Creating a well thought out plan of action will go a long way in this area. Remember, the only person with the power to hold you back, or move you forward, is YOU. At its core, courage is largely the determination to conquer any fear, hesitation or excuse that attempts to separate you from your dreams.

Whatever you do, don’t try to convince yourself into believing that you have to be completely fearless before moving toward your goals! The most successful people in the world would openly confess that they eventually had to be resolved to move forward despite their fears and feelings of uncertainty!

Courage is absolutely a choice, and fear does not have the power to rob you of your dreams, motivation, and strength unless you decide to let it.

How are you doing in the pursuit of your dreams?
Have you ever wondered what’s been holding you back?
The lines are open!

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40 Comments

  1. Tanja November 4, 2010 Reply

    Hello :)
    Nice article! It is exactly what I needed to read right now. Yes courage is a choice, and I am afraid of some things, like I am not good enough, but I guess that is because I am very young and don’t have much experience. Well, not sure what I wanted to tell You except that I like your article and I will try to be more courageous :)))

    Greetings from one girl from Serbia

    • Jonathan November 5, 2010 Reply

      Hi Tanja, displaying courage based on a logical examination of the facts is much, much easier than just blindly trying to overcome our fears. It’s very helpful to give yourself a legitimate reason when attempting to override negative emotions.

  2. Sandra Lee November 5, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    I really appreciate the way you clarify that not moving forward is also a reasonable option – but the key is to think through the options rather than to react emotionally. That’s brilliant!

    • Jonathan November 5, 2010 Reply

      Thanks Sandra, it can be difficult to use logic when emotions are in control. Asking the right questions and making comparisons is probably the most effective way to introduce reason into an emotional situation. Questions especially make emotions vulnerable to logic.

  3. Nea November 5, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan. This is a great topic & your writing is awesome as usual.

    I still have fears that impact my life at times. However, in addition to asking myself about the likelihood of things working out according to the worse-case-scenario, I’m learning to ask myself, “And then what…” This helps me to remember what a great problem solver I am. When you remember that you’re capable of overcoming obstacles, you see that there’s no logical reason for the fear.

    If what I fear happens, it’s not the end of the world. This knowledge is what helps me to move forward so that fear isn’t so paralyzing.

    • Jonathan November 5, 2010 Reply

      That is an excellent approach Nea. The more often we use an approach like that to face our fears, the easier it becomes.

  4. Steve November 5, 2010 Reply

    Hi, Jonathan, this is a great topic, especially as all of us readers prepare our goals for 2011. I’m proud of and excited for you regarding your new book. The cover on the sidebar is really nice! How’d you design it? Here’s to a great end to 2010 and a fantastic 2011!

    • Jonathan November 5, 2010 Reply

      Hi Steve and thanks so much for the kind words of encouragement. I am no good with photoshop so I used Corel Paint Shop Pro to create the cover. There was still a pretty good learning curve but nothing like photoshop.

  5. Ande Waggener November 5, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan. I just found my way to your blog through The Daily Brainstorm. I like your title and focus here. Reading this post gave me an ah-ha moment. I realized that I rarely lack the courage to start. The decision making process to begin a project is fairly easy for me. I do, however, often lose courage once I’ve started down the road I’ve chosen. When I face a setback or unexpected obstacle, sometimes I falter. I suspect that’s when fear kicks in–the fear that I’ll encounter more or bigger obstacles or not be able to reach my destination. The way I get past these fear obstacles and get my courage back is by making little tiny steps and reminding myself that thought it might not have gone well today, I can give it another go tomorrow. By interesting synchronicity, I just did a video post about that I’ve scheduled for Sunday. :)

    • Jonathan November 6, 2010 Reply

      Hi Ande, the smaller the steps we can break a big project into the less intimidating it will seem. Many times fear comes from seeing a challenge as insurmountable. Shrinking it down to a series of tiny steps can alleviate that fear.

  6. Matt Klein November 6, 2010 Reply

    Enjoyed this post. I believe people are sometimes afraid of success, because they feel they don’t deserve it, subconsciously. Getting over this is a big but necessary step.

    • Jonathan November 6, 2010 Reply

      You are so right Matt, the two most common fears when it comes to goals are fear of success and fear of failure.

  7. Joe Wilner November 6, 2010 Reply

    Jonathan,

    This is a great approach to problem solving and decision making. I totally agree in the power of courage to work through lifes ups and downs. It really does come down to the psychological perspective we take. By really focusing on benefits and our strengths we can stay motivated and passionate. We can examine potential obstacles while keeping our eye on the prize and keeping a growth mindset. Thanks!

    • Jonathan November 6, 2010 Reply

      Thanks Joe, I think we are on the same page here.

  8. Sibyl Chavis November 6, 2010 Reply

    Jonathan: Great post and information. Thanks for sharing your insights. I totally agree that limiting thoughts will always work against you and hold you back. I really appreciated your piece of advice that you don’t have to be totally fear free before really going after your goals. That is really helpful.

    • Jonathan November 9, 2010 Reply

      Hi Sibyl, I think there is a tendency to think that people who go out and accomplish amazing thing are without fear. They’re not. They just adjust their perspective so they can use that fear energy to get motivated. They call it excitement.

  9. Andrzej November 7, 2010 Reply

    Very often people don’t follow their dreams because they think that:
    - they’re too old to do such childish things,
    - they don’t have what is needed to make it,
    - it would be a waste of their precious time and money,
    - they wouldn’t make it anyway,

    In most cases what holds us back, are our own false ideas. Good part is that since they’re OUR false ideas, we can change them. ;)

    • Jonathan November 9, 2010 Reply

      Hi Andrzej, It’s all in our heads!

  10. Matt Clark November 7, 2010 Reply

    So true, fear is really only the pictures we create in our mind of something that we think can happen. Knowing that I just change the pictures to something that I do not fear and move forward. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jonathan November 9, 2010 Reply

      Hi Matt, realizing that you have the ability to change the picture is very useful. Actually putting that ability to use is down right empowering.

  11. Happiness November 7, 2010 Reply

    Fear is insidious. Creeping up in most people in ways they don;t recognize. Fear appears in the form of limiting beliefs, assumptions and cruel self-talk. Taking time to get quiet and reflect on those thoughts and feelings that hold us back, is the key to moving forward. Thanks for your insight. Just found you on StumbleUpon — we’ll be back!

    • Jonathan November 9, 2010 Reply

      greetings Michael &/or Heather, insidious is exactly the right word. And learning to recognize the many faces of fear opens up a whole arsenal of ways to dismantle it.

  12. jonathanfigaro November 8, 2010 Reply

    Hey Jonathan,
    Fear can only block us, if we allow ourselves to be pushed around by that little voice in our minds that repeats ” you can’t or you won’t.” I think when one takes time to be aware of these mental advances and starts to change there perceptions of themselves and what they can do. Only then will they achieve any level of happiness, big or small.

    • Jonathan November 9, 2010 Reply

      So right Jonathan, perception is the key.

  13. Vid November 14, 2010 Reply

    My dream is to become financially free and save as much time as I can from working.

    This involves courage to start something new and your own… I hope I will succeed one day.

  14. Pam December 6, 2010 Reply

    Courage is the absence of fear. If we could reduce or eliminate our fears the potential to advance as human beings would be huge. Think about how many times you held back from an opportunity or just from living because of fear. Have courage and live life, enjoy every moment of it and have no regrets. Live with purpose, as this will give you a direct pathway through live which in turn will help you live with confidence and courage. Great article!

    • Jonathan December 6, 2010 Reply

      If you think about it, courage is the willingness to act despite the fear. When there is no fear, there is no need for courage! In fact, the dictionary defines courage as: being brave; the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.

  15. angie evans February 9, 2014 Reply

    I am grateful for all your articles. I have been through so much pain and disappointment that has led me to think in a negative way for quite sometimes now, but your articles are helping me overcome my negativity and perspective in life. I found this very helpful and read it each time I am fearful of something and confused by all the input of different people. Thank you

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