I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, staring into the unknown. Below looks murky, dark, and dubious.

I can’t see the ground OR what’s beyond the fog in front of me. And yet, part of me – a big part actually – wants to JUMP.

Leap and the net will appear! some brave and bold part of me exclaims.

This is my Next Level self.

The one who’s always ten steps ahead. Who’s already taken the leap and lived to tell the tale. She’s a flipping badass. All bravery and boldness. Big talk AND big action. She’s my hero.

And yet here I stand, staring into the abyss… waiting. Waiting for what? I’m not exactly sure. Wait, that’s not entirely true.

I know what I’m waiting for. I also know it’ll never show. Like the bad boys I used to be addicted to, what I’m deeply desiring will most definitely stand me up.

I. Want. Proof.

Proof that I can take the leap and land safely – either on a playful trampoline below or in a comfortably mossy patch on a nearby cliff that’s inconveniently just out of sight.

Proof that having faith wasn’t foolish. That I will survive. More than that. That my Big Leap into my Next Level life will allow me to thrive.

But there’s no such thing as proof. And so I have a choice – Leap and trust that I’ll land safely and softly OR stand here for another six months waiting until I summon the strength to risk it all.

I’m not proud to admit I know which choice I’m making today. (The latter.)

We’ve been here before. Next Level self and I.

We do this dance regularly. I know all the steps by heart…

Step 1: Stand On The Edge Of The Cliff And Predict My Horrible Demise
Also known as The Waiting Game. After hearing the whispers of my Next Level self, informing my future, inviting me to follow, I inevitably don’t take action. Not right away. I need to mull it over. Am I crazy? Will I crash and burn? Can. I. DO. This?? In this stage, I’m more convinced I cannot. I’m more married to who I used to be than who I am destined to become. Is this space comfortable? No. Is it a necessary part of my process? Yes.

Step 2: Summon My Inner Strength, Take Two Steps Back, Then “Practice” The Flying Leap I Know I’m Not Taking Today (or anytime soon)

This step is really annoying. But it’s an essential part of the journey. This is where I start flexing my courage muscles and begin to picture myself getting strong enough to take the leap. It’s also the humbling space and place where I get to admit that I’m just not strong enough to survive a crash and burn. And so I do my little two step number, knowing full well the third step is STOP.

Step 3: Get Mad At Myself For Being Cowardly
Yes! Berating my lack of boldness is a brilliant distraction from taking action!

I revel in this self-flagellation because it means I get to let myself and my dreams off the hook. These are the moments where I metaphorically crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and allow myself to stew in my discomfort and dread.

Step 4: Sit Down. Get Comfy.
As long as I’m not going to take my flying leap, I may as well STOP feeling so uncomfortable. In this stage, my subconscious relishes its success – albeit temporary – at getting me to give up. But I’m NOT giving up. Actually, I’m getting ready. For the moment, I rationalize that if I’m going to kill myself by taking that flying leap one day, I’d like proof I actually existed. And if nothing else, my butt imprint will do. So I burrow my booty into the soft earth beneath me.

Step 5: Get Uncomfortable
Anais Nin said it best: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

I’m sure there are far better human beings than I who summon courage on Day 1. Not me. Courage is a waiting game. It never comes when I command it. Courage comes when I get so fed up with my cowardly self that taking action no longer seems as unacceptable as remaining dormant. Or, as Pharrell puts it: “The same is lame.” Eventually, I always get bored with clinging to the past and get on board with turning my dream into do so my dreams can come true.

Step 6: Walk My Talk, a.k.a. Jump!!
Quit my cushy corporate job. Write my book. Let go of Mr. Wrong. Meet Mr. Right. Pay off debt. Raise a child. Love a child. Let that child go back to her birth mom and live to tell the tale. Literally, tell the tale on stage, on the page, and on screen. Lose your mom and somehow survive. Learn how to stop feeding your feelings and actually feel them while losing weight AND losing your mom.

Eventually, I always walk my talk. It’s who I am. I’m not just a dreamer. I’m a #DreamPlusDo-er. A follow through-er.

It’s been thirteen years since my first courageous act of cliff diving. It took me a good six months to finally quit the job. And a year to quit Mr. Wrong. 18 months to get my first book deal. 1 date to know The Hubs was The One.

I used to wait impatiently for the “results” to come in.

Am I OVER him yet???

Where IS Mr. Right?

I’m soo ready to write and publish my book!

With time, I’ve come to realize that it’s never about how long it takes to turn the dream into do so my dreams can come true. It’s about waking up every day, flexing my courage muscle as I stand on the edge of whatever cliff I’m destined to dive off of next, and being willing to take that flying leap into the unknown.

Sometimes I land safely below. Sometimes I make it to the unseen cliff beyond the murky fog. Sometimes I stumble before I stand. But ALWAYS, my Next Level self is there to greet me with open arms and a loving whisper, “It’s about time. I’ve been waiting for you!”