Deanna Won: My 3 Lessons in Courageous Decision-Making

How do you gain the courage to make those truly tough decisions in life?

Before you can successfully make those decisions, how do you gain the inner awareness to become authentically who you are? How do you learn to truly love and accept yourself and where you are in life? How do you experience peace in the midst of your making the most challenging decisions in life?

We have been raised in a culture where achievement and productivity are highly valued.

However, while achievement and productivity are important for societal progress and development, without examining your deeper motivation and values, having an incessant drive toward achievement and productivity could become detrimental to

  • discovering who you are authentically
  • loving and accepting yourself and where you are in life
  • experiencing peace in the midst of making the most challenging decisions in life

Having an incessant drive to achieve and be productive, regardless of the cost, could indicate something deeper going on within you, of which you may be unaware.

Sometimes, this drive for achievement and productivity is a compensatory behavior developed, often over many years, in an attempt to meet a deeper need within you for love and acceptance from others.

While you may seek love and acceptance from others, the only way to be in a state of peace is to love and accept yourself.

Being in a state of peace is important because:

  • it’s needed in order to make those truly courageous decisions that are in alignment with who you are authentically and that reflect YOUR values.
  • it reflects strength and courage, where your thoughts, feelings, and actions are centered in such a way that you are coming from your highest self, where true wisdom resides.

So how do you make those tough decisions from a place of strength and courage?

Three important lessons that I have discovered involve, ironically…letting go!

1. Letting Go of Your Ego

Ego begins in your development from childhood, when you first become aware of yourself with the realization that you are different from others.

One part of your ego is your persona, which is how you project yourself to the world. While some amount of ego is needed for being able to survive life, putting too much emphasis on it allows others’ expectations to drive you.

Take a moment to reflect upon your own business, career, and life. Are you living your passion or someone else’s?

Perhaps, your identity is wrapped around your career to the extent that it becomes all-consuming in your life.

Did you know that Americans take less vacations than the rest of the developed world? In a new survey conducted over the first few days of 2016, the study found that nearly 41 percent of Americans said they did not take a single vacation day during 2015.

While it is certainly worthy to pursue achievement and productivity, your life is ultimately much larger than what you do. Putting achievement and productivity in their proper context within your life is the first step towards identifying what is truly important in life.

Becoming aware of what is most important and what truly brings you joy will then guide you in making important decisions, rather than what others may think or feel about your pursuits.

When you are able to let go of how others may perceive you or your actions, you gain peace.

With this newfound peace, you move one step closer towards courageously making decisions that are in line with your purpose and passion.

2. Letting Go of Your Paradigms

Gaining awareness of the paradigms that govern what you do is the next lesson towards building up your courage to make those tough decisions.

A paradigm is simply a system of thought or a belief system that you use to understand the world in which you live and operate.

However, the reality is that paradigms only work within certain conditions and do not, in fact, capture the reality of the situation. Therefore, if you hold too tightly to paradigms from your upbringing, education, or training, you will superimpose your templates or filters to a given situation, thereby missing the full range of pathways or solutions that can be implemented.

Instead, cultivate an attitude of continuous learning and a desire to seek the truth in any given situation. You may be surprised by what you learn!

By becoming unencumbered by paradigms, you gain an awareness and freedom to make decisions that more accurately reflect any given situation along with its circumstances, providing more ground-truth from which to make your decisions.

3. Letting Go of Your Attachments

When you are attached to an object, idea, or outcome, you vest your emotions, efforts, and energy into these areas.

The reason why many expend so much effort is because our society and culture is one that not only values achievement and productivity, but also control, which is how attachments form.

Where does this strong need to control come from?


Fear is, in fact, at the root of your need to hang on to ego and to paradigms. You control because you fear judgment or rejection from others, or because you fear uncertainty and the unknown.

This creates a self-imposed prison which actually limits the possibilities within your reach.

What’s even more insidious?

Grasping onto attachments will dampen your inner sense of awareness.

And without this awareness, your decisions will largely be driven by others or your fears, as opposed to being grounded in who you authentically are, and what’s truly important to you.

Releasing attachments will allow you to exercise true strength by having the courage to make decisions that are more centered on your most important values.

Putting It All Together

By letting go of your ego, paradigms, and attachments, you essentially gain freedom from your fears. This opens the proverbial, self-imposed prison door put in place by your fears and ushers in a new freedom to love and accept that which is authentically you, allowing you, then, to make courageous decisions from a place of peace, strength, and awareness.

So, what are you waiting for? Spend time daily being still enough to become aware of the driving forces in your life, let go of the hindrances and be ready to experience the freedom of unsurpassed peace and strength from which to make truly courageous decisions that move you along your life purpose and passion!

Deanna Won, Founder of Keynotes to Life, is a Speaker, Leadership Consultant, and Holistic Health Coach who inspires people to reach their highest potential through integrating leadership principles with purposeful and healthy living. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Deanna is a former physicist and Colonel in the Air Force. She was recently honored Woman of the Year 2015-2016 by the National Association of Professional Women.

Go to for more information. Connect with Deanna on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

How have you “let go” of things in your life that were holding you back? Or is there something that you need to let go of? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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