2017 is right around the corner and for many, the new year is a time of rejuvenation, of new beginnings, and fresh starts. My advice, don’t wait until “New Years” to get started on your goals…every day counts so why not start now…I know, I hear you…the holidays are coming, which for many of us means lots of food, relaxing, and spending time with loved ones. I say, what better time to start making positive changes…get more sleep, treat your body and mind right, take care of you! Things start to get nuts, so why not get into a good place so that you can relax into them and enjoy them rather than have them rattle your soul!

So, in the spirit of this period of new beginnings, it seems like a great time to focus on our inner selves. How do new levels of self-confidence, self-knowledge, or courage sound?

I feel like many of us know what we should be doing, we should mediate, we should talk kindly to ourselves, we should accept the thanks and the compliments that come our way…but we don’t, not always.

Over the weekend I was at the gym and had an epiphany…ok, maybe that’s too strong a word but you’ll see what I mean in a minute. Last year I started to run using a Couch to 5K app. I made it to week 6 (it took me months), and I was able to finish a 5K in under 40 minutes. For me, this was monumental. Ever since then I would pick it back up and drop it. It’s been a few months since I tried running, however I’ve been going to the gym at least 3 times a week working-out on the elliptical and doing some strength training. I’m very happy with my progress. Imagine my surprise then when I decided to pick up my Couch to 5K app and tried running again. I just bought a new phone so my stats were gone and I had to start from Week 1, Day 1. I thought it would be easy. Ha! Not so much… that workout kicked my butt! I thought it would be easy because I am in overall better shape that I was last year but no…I haven’t been exercising my running muscles so I wasn’t ready to run.

Here comes the epiphany…are you ready? It’s the same with our psychological muscles. I know, right! If you don’t flex your confidence muscles, your confidence will weaken. If you don’t practice courage, you’ll find it hard to be brave and if you don’t show love and kindness to yourself, you may begin to dislike who you think you are. You get the idea! The good news is that all of this is reversible and preventable. Also, if you practice more, you will get better at it. Physical muscles get stronger the more you use them so do psychological ones. For example, if you take steps to do things that scare you, you will become braver. And I don’t mean you need to jump from a plane…for some of us being brave is all about making eye contact and speaking up at a meeting.

Now the perfect time to learn how to flex what I call our soul-muscles. Those feelings that can starve or feed your soul. Where to begin though? I would start with the area that you feel stronger in so that you can see some improvement and start to feed your soul quickly. “Why the stronger area Ciara, wouldn’t I get more movement if I focused on my weakest area?” While that may seem to make sense, I think most of us are more likely to feel undue pressure and “failure” if we focus on where we need the most work.

There are many resources out there to help you find your way. Find a coach, take an assertiveness class, learn your character strengths (read my blog on that topic here), do something to move yourself toward a more confident, fabulous you!

So, promise me this, for the next week at least, you’ll look for the good in yourself and you’ll exercise your self-confidence muscle…I promise people won’t think you are vain, selfish or stuck-up. In fact, they might just be glad that you’re being a little nicer to yourself for once!

Be kind to one-another



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Originally published at www.ciaragogan.com on August 29, 2016 (content slightly edited).

Originally published at medium.com