To Get the Life You Want You Have to Take Risks

“Choose courage over comfort.” – Brene Brown

Several years ago I listened to Brene Brown’s audio program The Power of Vulnerability and her insights really resonated with me. In her TED Talks and her books, The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, she writes about how vulnerability — showing up and being seen — is courage. “We are hard-wired to be brave, and it makes us feel alive,” Brene Brown writes. I started thinking about what it means to live a brave life with bold decisions.

A lot of people have said to me, “You sure take a lot of risks.” As I thought about that perception, I realized I have taken a fair amount of calculated risks in my life so far. I left a great publishing job to start my own publicity firm for authors. I dove headfirst into entrepreneurship. I decided to help authors with online marketing before that was even a thing. I married my husband of a different cultural background after a quick engagement. I wrote my first book, Online Marketing For Busy Authors and (gasp) let someone read it. I recently moved from the East Coast to the West Coast to open a second office for my business. Being bold isn’t always easy, but I think for me it’s been necessary to get to the life I want.

[3 Steps to Help You Redefine What Success Means to You]

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from the risks that I’ve taken in my life:

Safety is an illusion. While entrepreneurship has its perceived risks, so does any job. I’ve learned that staying with what we know is just an illusion of safety. The only thing guaranteed? Change. Change always happens eventually. Running my own business certainly has its risks, but I feel more in control of my future today than I did when I worked for someone else. We can tell ourselves that we are safe and avoid choices that scare us, but when we do, we put something else at risk, like a goal, adventure, a dream or our potential. Staying safe puts the life you want at risk.

You are more ready than you think. When I first started sitting on panels and speaking at book publishing conventions and writing conferences, I wondered if I had smart things to say. I was self-conscious about my accent too. But I realized that because of my many years in book publishing, I have vast experience and knowledge that can help other authors succeed. So I thought, Why not me? Now speaking at conferences and meeting aspiring authors is one of the best parts of my job. I get great feedback, and no one has any issue with my accent. Is there something you are not doing because you think you are not ready or you won’t be good at it? Try it anyway. I bet you are more ready than you think to step into your light. If you are not good, you can either practice and get better or move on to another option without regret.

[Don’t Believe Everything You Think… 1 of 15 Secrets to Happiness]

Don’t hesitate. I take great pride in my decisions, and I like to do things right. While that sounds noble, it can lead to indecision. I’ve learned to really tune into my gut and make decisions quickly. Eyebrows were raised when my family learned I’d be marrying my husband after knowing him for just 6 weeks, but he’s the love of my life, and we’ve been happily together for more than 20 years. (Oh, and we are in business together too.) We could overthink every decision we make, but hesitating only stalls your amazing future. You are allowed to make mistakes. If something doesn’t work out, you will do better next time. If it works out, it may be the best decision of your life. Mine certainly was.

It’s never the right time. I don’t know what gives us the sense that life will perfectly align and we will suddenly have clarity about what our next steps should be. When it’s the right time to make a bold move, you won’t always feel warm and fuzzy about it because you are venturing into the unknown. Sometimes I wish my life came with directional street signs. I didn’t know if it was the right time to publish my book, but I knew I felt uneasy about my manuscript sitting idle. It took just one decision to be be vulnerable and to show it to a publisher and now Online Marketing For Authors is being published by Berrett-Kohler. This experience reminded me that we don’t always get a billboard telling us that it’s the right time, but we can make small decisions that move us forward. Progress alone feels exhilarating to me.

Learn to sit with uncertainty. This is the hardest one, isn’t it? I used to call living with uncertainty being in limbo. But I have recently realized that limbo conjures a terrible image. So now I call uncertain times being on a bridge. That is a much better metaphor. A bridge may be long, but it always reaches the shore. Sitting with the unknown isn’t exactly comfortable. I hate it. Questions ruminate in your head. Will my business succeed? Did I make the right choice? Will people like my work? I heard recently that all worry (and anxiety) stems from being uncomfortable with the unknown. Through meditation and mindful gratitude practices, I’ve learned to accept and be okay with uncertainty (most of the time).

[Read Maria Shriver’s latest ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essay]

If you find yourself sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect time, or waiting for permission or courage, I say to you: You can do this. You can take a chance. There is never the perfect time or the ideal situation. It’s always a risk. Just don’t take risks you can’t recover from. I’m not about to climb Mt Everest because I don’t want to live with the consequences of that risk should things go wrong. Be smart while you’re being bold.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” – Brene Brown



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About the Author

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Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She's the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, April 2016). Fauzia has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer and many more. A nationally recognized speaker and online branding expert, Fauzia writes for the Huffington Post, and MindBodyGreen. For online marketing, book publishing and social media advice, follow Fauzia on Twitter (@FauziaBurke) and Facebook (Fauzia S. Burke). For more information on the book, please visit:

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