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There is a lot of information flying around out there about how to make 2017 your best yet. Release toxicity from your life before the new year. Let go or be dragged. All good things.

There are also a lot of unhappy people speaking up about what an ass-kicking year this has been (and it HAS been for so many of us, no question).

Well, I’ve got great news, and not so great news!

You can experience more happiness, fulfillment and excitement in 2017. Truth.

The not so great news is: your gonna have to put yourself “at risk” to experience it.

I’m an analogy girl, so bear with me.

So many of us sit or stand (or even dance) on the shoreline, dipping our toes into the ocean, but stay planted on the sand. Terra firma. It’s familiar, it’s safe, it’s predictable.

We admire the grandeur and fearsome beauty of the vast ocean from the safety of the shore. We know how to “do life” from this space, we know what to expect – we have control and that feels good.

But not great. Not GRAND. Not exhilarating. Not the “happy” we know we can + want to experience. There are a lot of great people sitting in beach chairs with their swiss cheese novels + their koozied coors lights wondering why they aren’t happy.

You want more joy, less regret? It’s time to go swimming.

Are there a series of unsuccessful relationships amassing that never got off the ground because you’re only willing to dip your toe in? Only willing to offer a small sliver of your heart? I would offer you aren’t experiencing more in your relationships because you aren’t willing to open your heart. Open it to risk, OR love. Outta that chair!

Is your career or work position unfulfilling (at best) or intensity frustrating (at worst)? Be courageous enough to ask yourself what you actually WANT and then speak up, or create it, or go get it. Will it be scary? Yup. But just on the other side of courageously scary risk can be immense happiness and fulfillment. Up and at ‘em!

A common way so many of us “stay on the shoreline” is we hide our unique gifts and talents away out of fear of visibility. We tell ourselves that they are silly, we don’t have time for them, we aren’t good enough (others are better), no one will care.

Do you love to dance, create, paint, tell jokes, sing, make melon ball towers that would make Elsa jealous? Do it. The world needs your brand of creativity just as much as you need to express it. Promise. Time to go for a swim!

You’re gonna have to risk comfort + familiarity in order to have a chance at that greater joy you so want (and rightly deserve). But you’re gonna have to get outta that chair and swim for it.

And I’m here to tell you that leaving the shoreline and walking (or running full speed ahead) into the ocean is scary. And risky. And hard. Which is why so many people prefer to hang out on the beach.

We all see the ocean for what it is: vast, mysterious, unpredictable; it has the power to keep you afloat and take you under. The Truth-tellers, the live out – louders, the seekers, the Love Warriors – we walk in anyway because we know that’s where we touch life in fullest way.

Wading into the ocean looks like: being vulnerable, being visible, having the courage to ask for what you want, not taking no for an answer, not settling.

Some of these bold + courageous practices are employed on the shore, but they aren’t mandatory.

Out here floating around under the glistening sunshine – they are required. The price of admission. Sometimes you are rewarded with the calmest of waters that support you as you bask, floating, your face to the the sun.

Sometimes the waves take you down to the depths, turning you around + around – you’re not sure which way to go to get back to the surface. Brutal, really.

We want to experience ALL the lovely, amazing happy, joyful things we can in this life but we’re only willing to experience a minimal amount of pain, struggle, challenge. And that’s not how it works, folks. I don’t like it any more than you do –  I love pain avoidance as much as the next guy. But it’s not gonna get you to happy.

You have to be willing to experience the same depth of pain that you so desire to experience with joy. And that’s a risk.

I’ll tell you a secret – us ocean goers find ourselves occasionally longingly staring, jealous of those who remain safely on the shore – (usually after we’ve been dragged down to the depths by a storm). But we stay immersed in the water, in the realness of this human experience because we know it’s how to live in the fullest way.

And when you feel the painful burning in your lungs from being held under 30 seconds too long by the most recent wave that tried to take you down – smile (however wearily).

Smile knowing you are where you need to be in order to experience those great, larger feelings of joy + happiness. And whatever pain or discomfort you are in will pass, like those waves that roll beneath you. Sometimes they pick you up and sometimes they pull you under – but you are actively participating in your life, not spectating from the sand.

You can’t live the big, full life you know you want to staying on the shoreline.

At some point you have to risk it – and jump in head first.

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