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What is Your 2017 Courage?

To me, the word courage evokes thoughts of heroism, like Allied troops storming the beach at Normandy or parents in The Great Depression refraining from eating and giving what little child food they have left to their children.

Such thoughts make me feel like most of us will never have the chance to be courageous, to invoke the fire and passion that drives a person with courage. But this year I am resolving to change that for myself, and encourage you to do the same because courage is more than just selfless heroism.

Have courage by doing the things that frighten you.

Courage is simply setting aside your fears and taking action. It can be in school, work, family life, or anywhere else. In that way, courage is a decision, not an attribute that some have and don't. We all have courage within because we all have the agency to take action.

But the challenge is, achieving our goals and setting our fears aside doesn't usually require one single moment of courage; rather, it takes dozens, hundreds, even millions of courageous moments.

Soldiers in a war zone demonstrate such continual courage by going out each day and facing the threats of capture, torture, and death. A teacher with a struggling student shows courage by not giving up on that student even if day after day, month after month, he or she struggles endlessly. A parent shows courage by getting up each night to the screams of a newborn child when fatigue and exhaustion pull them down like gravity. Those who suffer from illness or addiction show courage by fighting temptation, grief, heartache, and relapse in an ongoing, torturous struggle .

Even more, the hobbyist shows courage in not giving up finding that rare antique that surely must be out there. The mailman, who in his off time takes piano lessons, shows courage in continuing rigorous practice to master this great skill and ambition. And the struggling poet shows courage by scribbling verse after verse, even if she doubts her voice will every be heard by more than a few. Or, for those of who have seen La La Land (I highly recommend it if you haven't), the aspiring actor shows courage when she doesn't give up even when dozens of auditions don't lead to a single callback.

Find your 2017 courage.

That's my simple plea. Whatever it is you want to achieve, a talent, finding a new job, saving for a new home, being a better parent, friend, or companion, or some other goal, be courageous in 2017 and get there, or at least closer.

Toward the end of 2016, I did not have courage as an author and let other work and fatigue keep me from writing what my I promised in my heart I would. I did not set the time aside and dedicate myself to making small steps each day. I became afraid that I wouldn't be able to make it work. I'd be too exhausted to write well. I would write at the sacrifice of other important things in life if I did. I would get burnt out and give up altogether.

These were just a few of my fears. Whatever their merits were, they stopped me in my tracks. But they won't this year. As I write this now in the wee hours of the morning, I challenge you to find ways around the obstacles you will face this year on your most cherished goals and ambitions.

Let 2017 be one of the best years of your life, and make it so by having courage.

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