As 2016, the Year of the Monkey, departs, we welcome in the Year of the Red Fire Chicken on February 3. In the Chinese Zodiac, the tenth year of the cycle is represented by a rooster, but this year, the stars indicate that the fowl in question is a female. People born in the year of the Rooster tend to be honest, bright, communicative and ambitious. They’re attracted to new things, but often lose interest quickly. I guess that makes them flighty…

As I was preparing this post, it occurs to me that there’s a big difference between the male rooster and the female chicken. Confidence (cockiness) is literally named for the male of the species, while the female name (chicken) denotes lack of courage.

Actually, “Red Fire Chicken” sounds like a lot of women I have known over the years. They are bright and ambitious. In fact, they may have a burning passion for a cause or a job or a project; they’re on fire in the planning stages of their next big move. But somehow, the move never comes.

The timing is wrong. I have to focus on (pick all that apply) my relationship, my kids, this big project, my parents… there’s always a reason this chicken doesn’t cross the road. Another year has passed, and you still haven’t finished the book, changed jobs, or ended a toxic relationship. Does this sound familiar?

There’s comfort in the life we know, even if it’s not the life we always wanted. Mary Beth Owen, writing for the online site, says eventually, you must ask yourself a question: what do you value more: comfort or growth?

Comfort trades experience for security. Comfort allows us to go through life on automatic pilot, not having to think much about where we are or where we’re going.  Being comfortable means it’s easier to say no than to try new ideas or new approaches. After a while, you start to resent anyone who is willing to make a change. You start to secretly enjoy telling her all the reasons her plan or her dream won’t work; be practical, you say.  Be responsible. Be patient. You’ll know when the time is right.

But inside, you know that the time will never be right.

We all have some rooster and some hen in us. But maybe this is your year to embrace your inner rooster. Jim Taylor, Ph.D., writes in Psychology Today: “Courage may be the single most important characteristic for changing your life inertia. Making a change requires risk and risk is scary because when you risk, you may fail (of course, the other side of the coin is that only by taking risks can we truly succeed).”

Here are some steps to give you courage.

  • Every step into the unknown is a risk. Be aware that you’ll never have all the information you need to be certain. Give yourself permission to make decisions, and don’t give up when they turn out badly. A decision you make with the best information available is not a mistake – it’s a risk that didn’t turn out as you’d hoped. The big difference is the story you tell yourself. Learn and keep moving.
  • The worst that can happen probably won’t. Spend some time imagining the worst outcome, and think about what you’d do next. Will you survive? Of course you will. Don’t let the small chance of a terrible outcome outweigh the large probability of an acceptable, good or even great outcome. The odds are in your favor.
  • Focus on the process instead of what happens in the end. What did I do well?  How can I improve?  You can’t control how the world reacts, but you can get better at reaching for what you want. You don’t always have to succeed the first time.  We all get more than one shot at the prize – if we have the courage to take another shot.

If the Red Fire Chicken is your totem animal, I give you permission to end the relationship. Here’s a great recipe for roasted chicken. A delicious way to redefine the chicken’s symbolism in your life.

Candace Moody is a writer and career coach based in Jacksonville, Florida. Her writing on career and employment issues can be found in her weekly column at

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