14/09/2015 07:15 BST | Updated 12/09/2016 06:12 BST

How to Live a Courageous Purposeful Life

Having survived a train crash I am often told by people how brave I am and I find that pretty hard to process. Is survival courageous? I am reminded of a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'

Every experience has validity and builds our courage to face the next obstacle. What traumatic events do is shake up your perception of your role in the world. Many people experience the same shift in thinking when facing redundancy, divorce, serious illness. You are forced to re-evaluate your thinking and more often than not that leads to a change in your life and how you see its value.

Somebody once told me they felt they had been sleepwalking through their life until suddenly they were abandoned by their partner. Fear was palpable; fear of being alone; fear of not being able to pay the bills; fear of failing in all areas of their life.

What emerged from the fear was a renewed sense of determination, the courage to choose a more purposeful life. Courage does not have to be a noisy affair, nor shouted from the rooftops. A purposeful life does not need to be one that delivers millions into your bank account or turn you into the next Richard Branson.

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. - Winston Churchill

Your first step to a purposeful life

I would say the first step on the road to a more purposeful life is to listen, to yourself. You do not need a trauma or a tragedy to find the courage to change a situation that is making you miserable, bored or fed up. There are barriers to changing your life- and I have written about them in this week's blog post, "Courage to Change". However, these are barriers that can be overcome, with courage.

Self-motivation can be tough at times when life is delivering body blows. However, allowing yourself time to think and reflect, away from the noise is very important. Create that space of quiet and use the time to dig down to what is at the root of your dissatisfaction or worry.


picture courtesy of Sarah Vitale

Your next step to a purposeful life

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. - John F Kennedy

Having reflected you now need a plan, a sense of direction. A good friend of mine advocates starting at the end and working backwards. Goals are forward thinking but will inevitably fail if the end destination is unclear. Imagine what your purposeful life looks like, how does it feel what does it entail? Now, work backwards through the steps to get there. Inevitably you will encounter some obstacles but that is part of the courageous challenge to overcome those obstacles and triumph. No achievement is as sweet as one you have to battle for. If it is too easy it will not feel like success!

A purposeful life usually benefits others

Ask most entrepreneurs why they love their life and their response will include their feelings on how they are impacting others. Richard Branson is a case in point; he believes that a business without a sense of community purpose is likely to fail.

Your purposeful life is your legacy, how you will be remembered. It is you making your mark upon the world. My purpose is my passion is to share the lessons I have learnt with my audiences so that they can look at their own problems, however large or small, with a different attitude. I show them that by adopting a change in mind set they can overcome anything. Setbacks become new beginnings and disasters turn into triumphs. Am I living a courageous purposeful life? I certainly aim to!