Summer Reinvention Inspiration, Part 4: Embracing the Journey of a Fresh Start

It’s hard to believe July is almost over, isn’t it! I don’t know about you, but for me, it feels like summer goes but just a little bit faster every year, especially when it’s a busy one.  I’ve been working hard on my business, getting ready to onboard a new team member at my day job, joining peer organizations from across Chicago to showcase a big collaborative regional economic development project for a high-level federal leader visiting from Washington, and on top of all that, I finished facilitating the final two days of a four-day coaching training for community partners. Whew! I’m ready for some relaxation time for sure, but so grateful for the opportunity to do work I love. 

As we wind down the Flourishing Fiercely July series (after writing about a few “serious” areas for making a fresh start like finances and career, and a few “fun” fresh starts, like style), I thought I’d close by offering some real talk and reassurance about fresh starts–which is that, sometimes, making a fresh start is not easy!  There can be bumps in the road and challenges, sometimes coming from people around us, sometimes from our own self-doubt within.  

Not Everyone Wants to Change and That’s OK

Have you ever struggled with criticism or lack of support from friends or family when you’ve embarked upon a fresh start? Or you’re excited about the new things you’re trying and want to encourage folks who you care about to join you on the same path, but they just aren’t feeling it? 

A by-product of a fresh start is enthusiasm. It’s hard to contain the joy that comes from seeing the fruits of your labor. It is natural to want to share your new skills and the benefits that came from the effort you put in.  That’s totally normal. You may find that your enthusiasm falls flat on others, and that can feel frustrating. Why wouldn’t someone want the solutions to a problem that you had? Why wouldn’t someone want to feel as awesome as you do from making some simple changes?

It’s simple:  Not everyone wants to change, and that’s ok. (OR the change that’s right for you might not be right for them.)  The reality is there are a lot of reasons people don’t change: fear, finances, struggles with determination or confidence, and more.  Look back at your journey and ask yourself why you didn’t take action sooner. Chances are, the people who resist your enthusiasm are stuck in many of the ways you were at one time. Everyone is on their own journey. They are on their own timeline and have to move through their own mindset issues, should they choose to.

Does this mean you can’t share your enthusiasm and joy for the changes you have made? Absolutely not. Here are some things you can do to influence others in a positive way, even when they don’t want to change:

  • Simply be your brand new self. People are often influenced by others who are living optimal lives. The “I want what she’s having” model. Simply going about life and living it well can be all the influence you need to inspire someone else.
  • Be the teacher when the student is ready. There is a philosophy that the teacher appears when the student is ready. Be willing to teach your tricks, tips, and tell your story with someone who shares interest. There are people everywhere who are ready for change and sometimes those who aren’t just aren’t ready… yet. Be patient and ready if they change their mind.

As you reflect on your road to change, you may realize that there was a time when you weren’t quite there yet. You weren’t ready for change, and pressure to do so would have turned you off. You had to work through your issues and get to the place where you knew your worth and wanted the fresh start more than you wanted to stay the same. Give others the respect you needed and be ok with where they are and ready to support them when they look for their own fresh start.

Acknowledging the Difficult Parts of a Fresh Start

We know change is inevitable and it is sometimes welcome and sometimes thrust on us. A fresh start, whether chosen or imposed, is the beginning of something new. It doesn’t matter if you are volunteering to let go or if things are being pried from your grip, it is important to say goodbye to what you are leaving behind. At some point, what you had and where things settled was exactly what and where you were supposed to be and have. At one point, you may have loved what you had and it might have been exactly what you needed at that time. You may have outgrown it, longed for more, or wanted simple change–and here it is!

When we’re young and starting out, we may not have the ability to decorate the way we might like. As we move into adulthood, we may have more resources but other things can get in the way of creating a personalized space that we love: maybe it’s sticky fingers and scattered toys if we’re parents of small children, or pet hair and “accidents” if we’re puppy-owners; perhaps we need to prioritize spending our money in other areas rather than on our home.  But even if you have some constraints and even if decorating isn’t your passion, it can give us a real mental “boost” to have a space that reflects our taste, personality, and makes us feel at home.

You can take some simple steps to get back into a positive frame of mind if you find yourself overwhelmed and struggling to let go of past habits, possessions, or practices at any time during your “fresh start” journey.

  • Step 1. Spend some time thinking about the journey you are on. Recall the past and how you morphed into the you that you are in this moment. Reflect on the good, the bad, and the indifferent things about your current status and see what comes up.
  • Step 2. Whether through journaling or some other ritual, set an intention for your fresh start and consider what you need to say goodbye to in order to move forward. Do you need to let go of a habit, relationship, mindset, or physical item to begin anew? There are a number of ways to ceremonially or literally say goodbye.
  • Step 3. Allow for the mourning. There is going to be some time where things feel scary, tight, worrisome, and maybe even sad. Allow yourself to feel the full range of emotions and all the subsequent things that go with it. Perhaps you will feel physically ill or want to sleep or get some self care. Acknowledge yourself and plug into the resources that help.
  • Step 4. Give yourself an allowable timeline to move through the past and into the future. Set yourself up for success and hold yourself to the new standard you are setting. If you get stuck, reach out to someone for help.
  • Step 5. Celebrate your small achievements along the way. It is important to celebrate as you make progress and start to see change. Nothing is too small when you are starting out, and reaching milestones is an important measurement of the fresh start you will be experiencing. From treating yourself to a gift or experience to doing a happy dance, all forms of celebration are important.

Saying goodbye to the past is vital as you make your way into the future towards your fresh start. Take the time to work through the steps and soften the blow that can come from leaving things behind.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog series about fresh starts–and gotten some inspiration to either get you started or keep you going on your fresh start journey.