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Are you ready to shake up your life? Last January, Lian Dolan was not, shall we say, living the dream. She reveals how one small choice reverberated through the next 12 months—in a good way. A really good way.
Normally, I am not the sort of person to "brand" my New Year's resolutions. I prefer to quietly begin a new year with a few items on my personal to-do list that I keep to myself. That way, if I don't actually pull anything off, nobody knows. But for me, the previous 12 months had been what they call in sports "a rebuilding year." After losing a job that I loved, I had to rebuild my career and my confidence, both of which were in tatters. So I decided to make a bold, public declaration at the start of the year to just let it rip, because if I could embrace a new attitude, maybe my outlook would change too.

Over the course of 2009, I hunkered down personally and professionally, like so many others who found themselves scrambling for work. Having spent two decades in traditional media, I decided to grab onto the ever-changing world of digital media by producing my own podcast, recorded in my closet in a makeshift studio. And, I wrote a novel, the hardest thing I've ever done outside of childbirth and Pilates. My hope was that one of these projects would pan out financially in the future.

Believe me, there were some bad days as I wondered how, after nearly two decades of hard work and some professional acclaim, I ended up in a closet with a microphone. For inspiration, I taped a Post-It on my iMac: Adapt or die. That's cheery, isn't it? But it summed up my sense of urgency to find something productive to do with my future. And fast.

When New Year's Day 2010 arrived, I was armed with my polished creative endeavors, ready to make things happen. Unfortunately, I don't really have a "Make Things Happen" personality. I had more of a "Things Happen and Oops, Here I Am!" style of career development. To let 'er rip, I was going to have to take professional and personal risks heretofore untaken. To my surprise, once I started getting gutsy, I discovered that my let 'er rip persona seeped into all areas of my life.

Over the course of this year, I've sold a novel, tried Zumba, sent my résumé to a hundred Craigslist postings with zero responses, secured a sponsor for my podcast, set up a book tour, wrote a dozen unsold marketing proposals, was rejected by a half-dozen literary agents, sold a TV pilot, filmed a book trailer wearing a sandwich board on a crowded downtown street, lost 10 pounds, injured myself in a recreational parcours class, wrote thousands of words, walked my dog hundreds of miles and felt like a different person. Somehow, simply labeling 2010 as The Year of Let 'Er Rip really gave me the push I needed to make it a ripping year.

Next: 4 ways to challenge yourself

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