Older is going to happen no matter what. Becoming bolder takes a little effort. But so worth it! And most of it is instinctive, if we will just let our instincts cut through the clutter in our heads.
Clutter like, “Becoming bolder?!. You’re not adventurous enough!” Wrong! Everybody can get bolder and 50+ is the perfect time to start.
Becoming bolder doesn’t mean going berserk
I’ll bet you my favorite pink jean jacket I’ll never jump out of an airplane. But that’s okay. Becoming bolder happens when we purposely take on discomfort as a way to expand our comfort zone.
Start taking these baby steps and I promise you’ll be ready for bigger, more brazen leaps very soon.
Four super easy bolder baby steps:
1. B – Be Here, right now
This has been the hardest change for me. It may be for you too if you are a “do-er”, not a “be-er.” But make this change first, no matter how badly you do it.
Why? Because becoming bolder is easier when we drill ourselves on finding happiness and satisfaction in tiny everyday things. It is that immediate reward for taking chances.
Practice savoring satisfaction in moments like a hot shower on your back, your sip of coffee in the morning, a bite of 80% chocolate. Quit wasting time planning how to react to something big in the future. Or worse, regretting something in the past. Don’t wait for a crisis to bring home how precious the current moment’s pleasure is.
A friend of mind taught me how important it was to find satisfaction and happiness in the moment. Like most of us who live on the humid Gulf Coast, she suffered from seasonal allergies. On New Year’s Eve, she felt woozy and assumed it was from too much allergy medicine and holiday indulgences.
Two weeks later she was in MD Anderson Cancer Center with Stage 4 brain cancer. One day she was well and then she wasn’t. When I visited her at home, she was finding peace in looking out at the bay while her cat, Hobie, cuddled at her feet. She knew better than to postpone any happiness.
We can only have sweet memories to get you through the rough, uncertain times if we let ourselves value and experience then in the first place.
2. O – Open yourself to opportunities disguised as screw ups
The screw ups can be yours or someone else’s that affect you. When you start living more brazenly, screw ups are going to multiply. That’s where real progress happens.
And a new lifelong relationship can be revealed though a screw up. I learned that when I watched my friend, Debbie, really connect with her future daughter-in-law over a gross mess.
Debbie, her son and his girlfriend loved dogs, especially Savanah, their old and senile family pet. When Savanah’s weakening sphincter started dropping stray turds in the house, Debbie’s Roomba (robotic vacuum cleaner) quietly worked at keeping the floor clean. It tried to polish Savannah’s droppings into the living room floor.
Everyone could smell the problem but couldn’t locate the source. When it was traced to the over-achieving Roomba, my friend wanted to toss out the appliance. My friend’s future daughter-in-law felt the Roomba could be spared.
The younger woman took charge and jumped in to dismantle, clean and reassemble the Roomba, saving the appliance and Savanah’s dignity. While my friend is proud of her new daughter-in-law’s PHD, the Roomba repair really bonded the two women.
3. L – Learn things outside your comfort zone
Get comfortable with discomfort. That’s the only way growing and becoming bolder. Attempting to learn some new skill will insure you regularly experience discomfort. Good for you.
And It doesn’t have to a big thing like deciding to go to medical school. I’m also talking about little things you’ve written off.
Like learning to drive a car with a standard transmission. Yes, they still make them and you are likely to encounter them if you travel to different countries. I actually have some respect among my guy friends because I know how to drive a stick shift.
Make your aspirations known. That keeps you accountable. One of my past New Year’s resolutions was learning to parallel park. The other was to learn to sign one karaoke song. I jokingly told that to someone in my book club who turned out to be a voice teacher. What are the chances?
I learned my song, “Angel From Montgomery” and a spare, “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Karaoke clubs are everywhere. And everyone there is getting out of their comfort zones. Getting up on the stage was a big step for me.
And here was an unexpected benefit. My voice teacher also helped me figure out my range. She taught me about head and chest voice. Now I appreciate listening to professional performers even more because I am aware when they sift from chest to head voice.
The discomfort of learning something new keeps your brain elastic and open.
3. D – Discard what doesn’t work for you anymore
Now that you are opening your brain to new practices, it’s time to make some more room in there. And don’t limit yourself to only discarding things. Think attitudes, responsibilities and behaviors that weigh you down.
Starting with concrete items makes the transition to those intangibles easier. Here’s a deceptively easy habit to start the process. If something comes in, something goes out. Buy a blouse? A blouse goes to charity. This applies to clothes, furniture , kitchen utensils, everything!
Aside for zero growth in acquisitions, this has another great benefit. When I’m shopping and I find something I want, I really have to think of what will be tossed. More and more frequently, I’m passing on a purchase.
I still love to shop but now I have a hack to keep the clutter down. Splurge on consumables. Things like cute paper napkins, scented candles or interesting spices.
I’m keen on what can be used up and deliver the other great pleasure – throwing out an empty container. Gone are all the old shower scrubs, lotions, shampoos in my shower with about a third of the product dried out and crusted in the bottom.
Then start really looking things you do and why. Is that project truly your responsibility? Do you still feel that way about someone or someplace or have you changed your mind. Nothing is off limits in this purge.. In fact, one day I reserve the right to change me mind to jump out of a plane.
Growing bolder starts right now – try it
Close your eyes. What momentary happiness you can savor by being here in this moment?
Where is the opportunity, even if it is hiding in a problem that is bugging you?
What new and small skill can you learn today – like trying a new way to cook your next meal or visiting a different market?
And what can you discard that is weighing you down?
Stay in touch
Let me know which one makes you start to notice that you are becoming just a little bit more brazen. I’d love to hear from you.