11 Steps to a Fresh Start
by Shannon Ables
The Simply Luxurious Life 
“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.” ~ Leon J. Suenes
While the January is often accepted as the time of year to make a fresh start, I also immediately equate the beginning of school in the fall, or simply the ending of summer as a great opportunity to make positive changes.
However, while there may be changes we want, that doesn’t mean they will just magically appear. Changes aren’t like Santa Claus when we were younger, wishing doesn’t just make it happen, but writing our wishes down certainly is a start in the right direction.
Today I’d like to share with you a few ways to welcome permanent changes into your life. The changes you want to see occur could be in a variety of different areas of life – health, attitude, time management, job performance, finances, relationships, etc, but no matter what they are it will take discipline and a consistent approach to eliminate the old habits that haven’t worked and reconfigure new habits into your mind that you would like to become second nature. The good news is the change you want to see can and will happen if you follow these 11 steps. Let’s get started.
1. Let go of what didn’t work – past grievances, emotions, etc. However, letting go doesn’t mean you forget, but what it does allow you to do is move forward.
2. Be very clear about what you want to change. Write it down. Be concrete. For example, I will increase my monthly income by 5% by the end of the year. Then set about breaking down that goal into small steps. What are you going to change in your life to make that a reality?
3. Stick to a short list of things you want to change. Try to keep your list of changes/goals to three for the upcoming few months or at the longest, a year. By keeping your goal list short, you are better able to focus and accomplish what you intend to.
4. Learn from the mistakes and apply those lessons effectively. As mentioned in no. 1, letting go is imperative for a fresh start, but the key is to learn the lesson and apply it so that in moving forward we make positive strides in the right direction.
5. Talk to an objective party. Often there may be things in your past that you aren’t quite sure how to change, but desperately want to. I highly suggest talking to someone who isn’t bias and is simply able to give objective advice. This could be a counselor or a mentor, but make sure it is someone you trust. Allow yourself to just listen and digest their advice. Some you may use and some you may not, but it is always best just to listen once you’ve shared your scenario.
6. Understand the reason for each of the changes you want to make. If you are trying to eat healthier and perhaps drop a few pounds, remind yourself of how you want to feel by treating your body with better care.
7. Remain committed. To truly change habits and let go of things that were not helping you progress toward your goals, will require time – approximately 3 weeks or 11-14 times of what ever the new habit is to make it an engrained thought. So be patient with yourself.
8. Strive for excellence, push aside perfection. You will make a few missteps along the way, but file them as opportunities to learn and don’t stop. Do your best and then push a little further. You’ll be surprised what you are actually capable of.
9. Positive self talk is mandatory. Remember to surround yourself with optimism – whether it be the people who support your choices, affirmations you’ve written down and posted in your house, journal or planner, or most importantly, the self-talk that is constantly going on in your head – keep it positive. If you wouldn’t want to hear such negativity from somebody else, don’t allow the voice in your head to bad mouth you either.
10. Give it 24 hours. There will be days where your mood is just not where you’d like it to be and the hope and determination you had at the beginning is waning. I can honestly say that it seems in this moment that nothing will help, but trust me – give it a day. We all have funks when for whatever reason, we just aren’t feeling it. Give yourself 24 hours and pick up the cause again tomorrow. Don’t stop believing in yourself and give yourself a bit of a break (but not too much).
11. Let yourself dance around the living room. What do I mean by this? You know those moments that occur that you didn’t expect would go so well but they do and sometimes better than you expected? And while nobody else would understand how thrilled you are, this is no reason not to celebrate. Whether it’s dancing around the living room, letting out a YAHOO!! even if your pets look at you kind of funny, do it. Be happy and celebrate the change that is gradually becoming the new you and the new life you had designed.