take courage_by S Khan_flickr

How to start every day with courage and confidence

Start the day from a position of knowing that you are able to figure stuff out. You also know that once you are aware of the very next step to take you are able to take action (I’m not talking about making the best decisions, nor taking the best actions. Those things don’t exist).

Knowing that you can do these two things presents two questions:

“What needs to be figured out?” (in this day? in this moment?)


“What needs to be acted upon?” (right now)

These two challenges, together, can become all the intrinsic motivation (verses the temporary motivators of reward/punishment) you require in order to take on each day with courage and confidence (courage being the more important of the two). These can become the excitement (!) that drives the body and mind to positive action every day. The body and mind will come to like these challenges (ahh, dopamine. Ooh, oxytocin) and will want more of them.

Oh, and the next step, of course, is to take that action immediately.


Know that now you’re beginning with certainty.  Up to this point in your life, you have always been able to figure stuff out (whether you liked the results or not is immaterial, now). And you always will be able to. That fact makes this a great place to start your day (or to ‘re-start’ at any moment if you feel stuck).

So, what needs to be figured out?  Either you’re already on or thinking about a project (or in a relationship, or whatever), or you simply don’t know what to do with yourself.

If you already have a project, a quick review of what you’ve already been working on may be all you need in order to identify what requires your mind and body (your thinking and action).  If it’s not clear, I suggest writing a list of 10 things you need in order to get started or make progress (You may want to do this even if you already know what you should do next. Making a list should take less than 30 minutes and it will give you a destination for the day that you’ll know is better than anything else you could be doing).

If you don’t know how to do the something that’s before you go back to list writing (lists are very simple, very powerful tools). Lists are great because you can ALWAYS begin or restart from ANY point by writing a list of 10 ideas. In a case where you don’t know how to do something, list 10 ideas on either how you think you might go about doing the thing, or a list about how you might be able to find the answers you feel you lack. Perhaps a combination.

What needs to be acted upon? This is even easier to figure out than figuring out what needs to be figured out (words are fun).  Once you have your list(s) in front of you, look and see what items jump out at you as most important.  If needed, make a list of 10 actions that you could take for each of those most important tasks and choose the top ONE thing to do. Then, get started. Move. Do it. Act.

But there’s STILL something stopping me

There are two things that stop you from taking action: Either you don’t know the next step, or you’re procrastinating. Making a list (quickly) and then taking action (immediately) is the way to crush both of these bad boys! If there’s something else, then ask me in the comments or on Twitter, @davecharbonneau. I don’t know, maybe I’ve forgot about something. I’ve been very adept at procrastination, maybe I’ll have an answer.

Remember that often ANY decision is better than none. Keep in mind that making a (quick) list will instantly offer you multiple options where just moments before there may have been nothing.  And also remember that ANY action related to the most important item on your list is almost always better than no action.

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image: S Khan on Flickr.com