The year is wrapping up and I think I speak for a lot of you when I say, oh boy, what a year it has been. For me, it was filled with a lot of change, growth, unexpected adventures, hard conversations, many hours of reflection, and lots of time spent outside of my comfort zone – all which I welcomed with open arms. If you read my column regularly, you know how much I believe change is a great catalyst to evolving.

In thinking about the message that I wanted to end the year on, I wanted it to be positive, honest, forward, and hopefully change your perspective. So I leave you with this: Choose your hard.

What does that even mean? Every day we are faced with a lot of choices and opportunities. Some of them seem so unfathomably hard to explore that we may shy away entirely. I can’t take that spin class because I’m so out of shape that it’ll be too hard. I can’t have that tough conversation because I’m not sure how it’ll end. I can’t start my own business because I don’t even know where to start. I can’t KonMari (Marie Kondo) my place because I don’t have time to organize.

Does any of that sound familiar? If so, I want you to consider the other side of what seems hard…

photo from free people

I can’t have that tough conversation because I’m not sure how it’ll end.

Guys, listen, I get it. I sometimes feel like my body turns warm and breaks out in hives the moment I even *think* about having a tough conversation. Or, I completely lose my appetite and can’t sleep the night before a big talk. And for whatever reason, this year was full of a lot of them. Between friends, family, relationships, work, the election — you name it, I had it. Last January, I started the year off with the post Why You Should Stop Waiting and have kept that mantra top of mind to push me when I’m nervous or hesitant to have tough conversations. It has helped, but for me, it mostly comes down to this: I can’t stand living life knowing that I didn’t ask, or I didn’t express myself. That is a much harder pill to swallow than the short-term feeling of nervousness. Plus, asking big and thinking big allows me to live my truth.

photo from outdoor voices

I can’t take that spin class because I’m so out of shape that it’ll be too hard.

That was me 3 years ago. Being 135lbs overweight and unhealthy was just as hard and full of challenges. Not only was I on the road to some major health problems, but I couldn’t fit in airline seats and was always breathless. It was embarrassing and hard to always feel awful. So I started small. Tiny tweaks led to big changes. In this case, I chose to get healthy, because that hard of being new and breathless on the bike was much better than being overweight and breathless.

image from vogue

I can’t start my own business because I don’t even know where to start.

This one has come up quite a bit in my circle. Well-connected, intelligent women who are doing great work and could be doing exponentially better both personally and financially. But, because this is a completely foreign world for them, they’re apprehensive to exploring the idea and potentially crushing it as a boss lady. I ask, what’s harder — working for the man and being limited in terms of personal and financial growth or exploring your true potential? Do your research, round up your mentors and ask around. Choose the hard that will work for you not against you.

photo via my domaine

I can’t KonMari (Marie Kondo) my place because I don’t have time to organize.

Let me speak from experience. Having just finished this 11-day process, I know the time and effort it takes to do this, and how hard it was to find the time. I also know how hard it is to live in a space that is cluttered, unedited and unorganized. Honestly, it felt like my entire life was affected by my over-abundance of things. Now, I have a clear idea of what I own, its purpose, and where it lives in my place. Plus, I only kept my most favorite things, so I feel good about what I own. Taking the time to do this meant that everything else had to take a backseat. But that was temporary — my sanity and clarity is much more important than missing a brunch or bike ride. #SorryNotSorry

photo from sarah carpenter via vogue

There are countless more examples, but the point is, think about which hard you’re comfortable living with. As I type this, I have a yoga class booked tomorrow morning that I’m nervous about. It’s going to be hard. I’ve been out of my routine for a bit due to a 40+ day bit of bronchitis that will not exit my body. But I know what happens to my body when I don’t do yoga. I’m achy, crampy, my mind doesn’t feel as settled, and I don’t sleep as well – all very hard things to deal with. So I’m sucking it up and going – that’s the hard I choose.

If I could sum this piece up in one sentence it’s this: stop making excuses that are stopping you from great things. Because even if your spin class is hard, even if your friends aren’t receptive to the tough conversation, and even if your business fails – you tried and stepped outside of your comfort zone, which makes you that much more equipped and prepared to try again.

I hope this resonates with you. As you wrap up 2016 and move into a brand new year (I love new), think about everything you have control over.

Thanks for reading my column and allowing me to continually step outside my comfort zone and share with you.

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Kelly Krause