how to be a badass

For most of my life, I’ve tried to be as tough as possible.

I used to punch all the guys in high school. I also put a few holes in my parents’ walls (sorry mom and dad). After that, I asked for (and was quickly given) a punching bag to take out my toughness on instead.

And while I’ve never taken myself very seriously (OK, other than maybe my freshman year in high school when I died my hair pink and covered myself in spikes), I still love the idea of being a badass.

Because being a badass means more than just trying to be cool. It means being true to yourself and who you are, sticking to your beliefs, and putting yourself out there in the world. And most of all, it means having the confidence to go after your dreams—even if no one else believes in you but yourself.

I certainly don’t consider myself a true badass (at least, not yet), and few people actually are. But it’s certainly worth aiming for.

Here are twenty-one steps that will propel you (and me) to badass status:

1. Buy a punching bag (or go somewhere that has one) and punch it often. Nothing makes you more of a badass than being able to punch like one.

2. Eat protein after all your workouts. And try to eat some protein at every meal, too. Protein feeds your muscles and makes you strong.

3. Learn to kick that punching bag. There’s nothing cooler than being able to kick.

4. Start doing your HIIT six days a week. This will build up your strength and endurance so that if you ever have to prove your badassness, you can.

5. Build muscles. There’s nothing more intimidating than a girl or guy with strong muscles.

6. Speak up for what you believe in. Don’t let anyone push you around. People will learn to take you more seriously if they know you’re not about to back down.

7. Be confident. People look up to confident people. They fear them. Confident people do what they want. And if you’re not already confident, act confident, and people will perceive you that way.

8. Be yourself 100% of the time. Ok, that doesn’t mean you have to curse like a sailor when you’re around your grandmother, but it does mean never to compromise who you are in your heart for others.

9. Learn to do a handstand push up. There’s not much that’s more badass than that.

10. Eat your super foods. Kale, spinach, berries, sweet potatoes, walnuts, you name it. The vitamins and minerals packed into these awesome and tasty foods will boost your immunity and make your body strong for life.

11. Stop reading while you’re exercising. This is about the least badass thing you can do. It means you’re not working out hard enough and you need to step up the intensity.

12. Do burpees. A lot of burpees. Burpees burn mega calories, scorch fat and get you in shape fast. And all real badasses are in good shape.

13. Learn a new sport. There’s no better way to show off your aggression and your newfound badassness than in sports. Plus, they’ll keep your brain healthy and they’re fun.

14. Follow your passions. Whether it’s starting your own business, switching to a career you love, or helping people in need, badasses never settle for less. Do what you love to do, and the wealth, health and happiness will follow.

15. Do box jumps. Lots of box jumps. Jumping high will make your legs strong and awesome, and there’s nothing more badass than strong and awesome legs.

16. Read a lot. Real badasses are strong and smart. So read whatever you can get your hands on—fiction, biographies, magazine articles, blog posts. Get audiobooks if you don’t have time to sit down and read.

17. Master the pull up. Guy or girl, pull ups are the ultimate bodyweight exercise, and probably the most badass exercise ever. If you want to be a proper badass, you need to do pull ups.

18. Eat real food. There’s a reason Popeye ate spinach instead of Pop Tarts – real, whole foods will keep you strong and healthy for life. So ditch the junk and embrace the good stuff.

19. Take action. Don’t just talk about the stuff you want to do, actually do it. As Seth Godin says, “ship often.”

20. Wear what you want. There’s no need to wear spikes and chains to prove how badass you are, but you shouldn’t let other people or society tell you what clothes to wear. Personally, I wear clothes as bright and patterned as possible (with a few spikes thrown in here and there), because that’s what makes me happy. Whatever you decide to wear, wear it with confidence so the world knows you’re proud of who you are.

21. Kick ass. You’ve got one life, there’s no reason to half-ass anything. So put your heart into everything you do, kick ass at everything you do, and you’ll officially be a badass for life.

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” – Mark Twain