November 15, 2021
Embrace a Fresh Start: 9 Ways to Approach New Beginnings, Change & Transition
Written by Rachel Eddins
Are you going through a transition or looking to change?
If so, a deep cleaning is a great way to embrace a fresh start in life. A good sweep-out is not only good for your physical space, but it’s healthy for your mental space, too.
If you’re like most people then your life can start to feel cluttered, which is natural. As we go through life, we pick stuff up along the way.
So, as people complete a spring cleaning to overhaul their homes, you can do that for your mind, which shows up in your life. With a few simple adjustments, you can embrace this change and really cultivate a fresh start.
In this post, we cover:
- What does your fresh start look like?
- Why embracing change is better than bracing for it
- 9 helpful ways to declutter your life
- #8 has an exercise attached
- Identifying YOUR fresh start
- If you need some help…
What Does YOUR Fresh Start Look Like?
If you are thinking about changing your life for the better, one way to start is by identifying your goals. You are probably hoping to find some version of happiness or emotional well-being.
That might look like any combination of the following:
- A sense of freedom
- Happy to get up in the morning
- Working toward goals
- A sense of purpose in life
- Satisfying relationships
If you are thinking about changing your life, you may be experiencing some combination of the following elements:
- Feeling sad, lethargic, or depressed
- Feeling afraid
- Abusing or being addicted to alcohol or drugs
- Feelings lonely
- Problems with relationships
- Not getting what you want in life; feeling frustrated in working toward goals
- Not caring enough to have goals
Why Embracing Change Is Better Than Bracing For It
That word “change” can be scary for some, so let’s talk about why change is necessary and how you actually do it.
Has anything in your life stayed exactly the same? Children you knew are growing up. Friendships begin and end. Job offers come and go.
Life is constantly hitting the refresh button and the page of your life will update with or without your permission. And depending on who you are, that thought can terrify or mollify you, but the issue is the same, regardless.
Maybe, you are facing a remodeling of your world that you didn’t sign up for. We call these “transitions” and whatever the nature of the transition might be, it’s bound to be a little scary, a little anxiety-producing, and a little frustrating.
Change and transition can threaten:
- Our pride – “How can I tell people I was fired?”
- Our identity – “I’ve always been a teacher. That’s who I am. What else can I do?”
- Our security – “How am I going to pay my bills? How can I support my family?”
- Our self-esteem – “Why won’t anyone hire me? What am I doing wrong?”
- Our relationships – “I won’t have as much time to spend with my kids.”
- Our self-confidence – “I’ve never done this before. What if I fail?”
Over your lifetime, you’ll go through a lot of transitions and the only thing you can really do is let go of your resistance to change. Seriously, that is it.
If you are reading this, you have already been through so much reworking and remodeling that you may (or may not) have been prepared for, but the real joy lies ahead. Hoping things stay the same is like looking at the sunset and asking the sun not to set.
Is it going to listen? No.
So you have a choice, you can let this day pass you by or you can make the most of this new day and, if you need it, cultivate a fresh start.
9 Ways to Declutter Life and Embrace a Fresh Start
1. Take Responsibility for What You Want
The blame game is not one you want to play. Look for signs that you are blaming your situation on others or not admitting past mistakes.
You can want what you want, but you have to step up to the plate to even have a chance of getting it.
- Do you want what you have currently?
- What changes would make your life better?
- What do you need to get rid of?
- What do you need to add?
Take responsibility for THAT.
The only person who can bring about change in your life is you.
2. Declutter Your Mind by Decluttering Your Space
It’s not uncommon for your mind to follow in the footsteps of your environment. What this means is that if you live in a cluttered home then there’s a good chance you’ll feel cluttered in your mind, as well.
Accumulating “stuff” might be stopping you from committing to an important thing. If you keep a lot of half-started projects around, it makes it difficult to zero in on the really important things.
So, to defeat this crowded feeling, make the effort to declutter your living space. Just like a traditional spring cleaning, throw out the stuff you don’t need, use, or want.
In doing this, you will allow your mind to be clear of the frustrating clutter because you will be able to be less distracted by things that don’t really matter to you.
3. Start small.
Thinking of your overall goal can be overwhelming. So manage your resistance by choosing one small party of it and attacking it today.
Let’s say your goal is to lose 20 pounds. That can certainly seem like an impossible thing to accomplish.
It will seem more doable if you tell yourself, I’m going to lose five pounds by (date).
Another way to do this is by taking a project and breaking it down into small actionable steps, as small as you can make them. Then you tackle that project one step at a time.
4. Visualize the future.
Author Barbara Sher suggests one way to do this: Write an imaginary press release about yourself.
The date is today’s date, two years in the future. The press release is announcing the most extraordinary event you can think of.
It doesn’t matter whether this event seems only vaguely possible to you because they are still possible.
The important thing is that it is exciting to imagine.
5. Complete a Relationship Inventory
Relationships can often be thought of in terms of books. Meaning, some relationships are only meant to be in a chapter of our lives while others last the whole book.
When it comes to embracing a fresh start in your life, remember to take stock in your relationships. It might be time to close the chapter on some of them.
Take a close look at the people you let influence you, which is anyone you spend significant amounts of time with. Make sure those people are out for your good and not simply their own agenda. (You know who these people are.)
6. Remind Yourself of ALL the Options
In even the most trying of situations, there is a way forward. They might not be the easiest of paths, but they are still an option.
You always have alternatives and the power to choose among them.
7. Adopt Sustainable Changes in Your Life
It’s not uncommon for the new year to motivate you to set big goals for your life. In setting these goals, you might be tempted to jump in with both feet or even to do a complete 180 turn-around.
The only problem with this approach is that most people can’t sustain it. You have a routine in your life for a reason and that reason is that it works for you.
If you want to embrace a fresh start in your life, try a gradual approach.
For instance, rather than changing your entire diet, focus on making one healthy homemade meal per week. By doing this, you can establish small lifestyle changes by which you can ultimately reach your main goal.
Remember, small actionable steps. Rome was NOT built in a day.
8. Align Your Goals with Your Core Values
You might have to start by disproving your disempowering beliefs.
In Reinventing Your Life, authors Young and Klosko suggest that you identify the beliefs that keep you from succeeding. They offer a way to dispute those beliefs by asking, “Is there really any evidence today that this belief is true?”
They suggest making a list of the evidence. With that in mind, consider how people choose goals because of what other people think, not because those goals are necessarily what we want.
It’s important to truly know yourself, then you can set goals that align with your core values. It’s only those types of deep-rooted, value-oriented goals that sustain you in the face of adversity.
To identify what your core goals are, ask yourself what is truly important to you. What do you really care about? You might make a list of these.
Once you’ve answered this question, adjust your aims. Also, it might not be a bad idea to silence outside negative or heavy-handed input that might influence your self-assessment.
For example, “It’s important to me to live a healthy lifestyle so that I can see my grandchildren grow, be active and adventurous in retirement, and feel great in my body as it ages.” Losing weight doesn’t necessarily connect to a deeper value so it can easily lose its motivational power.
Now, you can’t make short-term changes and expect the results to be long-term, sustainable life changes. There are no long-lasting quick fixes.
Try the following exercises to get clear on your most important values and develop goals from there.
Exercise: what do you want to achieve over the long term?
- Pick something that is high on your values list. These are items in categories such as career fulfillment, relationship satisfaction and connection, family relations, health and lifestyle, spirituality, and so forth. Complete this exercise to clarify your values.
- Next, think about where you would like to be in this area of your life within one year. Make sure the goal is measurable. More compassionate, happier, or balanced are not goals. Instead try something like, “I’d like to have greater balance in my life by leaving work on time and making sure to take my lunch breaks each day.”
- So, what do you have to do within six months to achieve this goal within one year?
- What would you have to do in three months?
- What would you have to do in one month?
- What would you have to do THIS week to achieve this goal within a year?
Exercise: Get clear on what is really important to you
Step 1: Imagine that you are writing the statements for your epitaph.
- What are some of the most important statements you would want to have included?
- What do you want to be remembered for? What would others say about you?
- Distill these messages into what they mean for your life today.
- What do they indicate is most important to you?
- In what ways are you carrying out these values in your life right now?
- What else can you do? Challenge yourself!
Step 2: Establish goals based on your values.
Goals should be broken down into small, actionable steps.
What is one small thing you can do today that will help you get to where you want to be in a year? Don’t focus on having the goal achieved as soon as possible or you’ll be overwhelmed and frustrated in the long term.
Next, research consistently shows that making a public commitment to your goals increases the likelihood of following through on them. Share your commitment to yourself with a friend or support; post it publicly.
What is something that is really important for you this year? What really matters to you?
Make it specific enough so that you’ll know when you’ve achieved it. (For example, greater happiness isn’t a goal).
9. Set Yourself Up for Success
Much like establishing sustainable habits in your life, it’s also important to throw yourself a bone once in a while. One way to set yourself up for success is to make your new goals as easy as possible to fulfill.
For instance, if one of your goals is to drink more water then place an empty glass by your bathroom sink. First thing in the morning, you can fill your glass and drink up.
Making positive change can be difficult but these little reminders not only help you reach your goals but also help to establish those sustainable habits mentioned earlier.
How People Change – How Will YOU Change?
Once you have decided to change your life, try the following ideas.
- Explore your feelings. Keep a journal, talk to a trusted friend, work, with a professional counselor.
- Envision your future. Write in a journal, make a collage, do a guided visualization, talk to a friend or counselor, research the possibilities.
- Explore wishes and dreams. Keep a journal, talk to a trusted friend, work with a professional counselor.
- Be open to new ideas. Take a class, travel, say yes to things you may have avoided in the past.
- Look for kindred spirits. Avoid people who make you feel bad about yourself, seek out those who make you blossom, reach out to those with similar interests and dreams.
- Try something different. Deliberately buy new items, try different brands, shop at different stores, do the opposite of what you usually do, see different movies, read different kinds of books and magazines.
- Set goals and targets. Learn how to set useful goals, follow-through, evaluate progress regularly, reward yourself for achievement.
- Take one step at a time. Divide your goals into tiny pieces and do one small new thing each day, starting now.
- Look for lessons. Remind yourself that experiences are not good or bad; they are simply lessons.
- Take in new ideas. Listening to podcasts or reading books about the direction you want to head in can make all the difference in the world in helping you bring about that fresh start.
When to Seek Professional Help
It may feel easy to start new goals and habits, but achieving them over the long haul can be difficult. This is normal.
This may occur because you’ve set your expectations too high, taken on too large a task, or feel paralyzed by unknown emotional factors.
Counselors at Eddins Counseling can help you make it all the way to the finish line by equipping you with much of what you need to be successful. Sample therapy topics include:
- Clarifying career goals
- Managing stress
- Reducing anxiety
- Developing coping skills
- Learning effective communication techniques
- Increasing self-esteem
- Creating positive and supportive relationships
- Improving health, lifestyle, and relationship with your body
Sometimes it makes sense to find a professional counselor who understands how people change, to work with you as you work through the change process. Here are some ways to know when that would be appropriate:
- You’ve tried several things but you still have a problem.
- You want to find a solution sooner rather than later.
- You have thoughts of harming yourself or others.
- You have symptoms of depression, anxiety, or another disorder that are significantly interfering with your daily functioning and the quality of your life. For example, you have lost time from work, your relationships have been harmed, your relationships have been harmed, your health is suffering. These are signs that you may need the help of a trained, licensed professional.
Through small regular actions on a consistent basis, you’ll end up in great shape to achieve your goals. It’s not enough only to make firm decisions; we’ve got to add taking action in the form of very small manageable steps to that equation in order to get the outcomes we desire.
Be bold, broaden your comfort zone, and venture out to accomplish great deeds and even greater success.
You’re not alone, contact us for help.
Embrace a Fresh Start During Change & Transition
If you’re ready to embrace a fresh start in your life, please contact one of our counselors for Life Transitions counseling.
To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online. Together we can create a plan for you to reach your goals.
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