How To Make the Most of Your Fresh Start

How to make the most of your fresh startFresh starts are my favorite!  There is always this nervous anticipation of what’s to come, but with that comes the beauty of doing things differently, honing in on my authentic self and honoring what feels best for me.  I encourage you to focus on the possibility of fresh starts and the beginning of a new chapter in your life.

Starting fresh generally means that something has come to an end.  This transition period can be really difficult and filled with a lot of fear of the unknown and fear of the future.  But just like spring always follows winter, you too will get through this transition process and begin with a fresh start.

What are the benefits of fresh starts?

A New Perspective

New beginnings give you a chance to see things clearly.  You can take off the rosy glasses (or not so rosy glasses) and often see things for what they are and not what you embellished them to be in your head. Whether what has ended was a relationship, job, or a life, loss tends to bring us back to what is important.  We get to focus on what really matters.  It’s also a good time to reflect on what has been working, what hasn’t, what you want and don’t want moving forward.  You get to decide what will work best for you moving forward.

Personal Growth

Although endings are always difficult, moments where I have suffered loss, such as the loss of a loved one, relationship or career have been the moments where I have grown the most.  My personal growth is always propelled further.  Once the initial pain of the ending has dulled, it is time to examine the silver lining.  And there is always a silver lining, if you look deep enough.  What have you learned from this experience?  Have you gained any new wisdom because of what has happened?  Have you grown as a person?  Ask yourself, where am I growing during this experience?

Rest

Endings tend to drain all of the energy out of you.  Starting fresh gives you a chance to rest.  Certain worries or anxieties that you might have had during your previous situation may be gone or ending and you can enjoy the quiet and stillness.  It is so important to make rest a priority for yourself.  Endings come with a lot of emotions and stress generally.  Make sure you are taking care of yourself during this transition toward the new.

New Possibilities

Fresh starts mean getting excited about new possibilities.  Whether that be new loves, new careers, new friends, new homes or new adventures.  It’s exciting to think about all of the abundance that is just waiting to come your way.  This is your chance to change what wasn’t working.  If you want to act more assertive, or more spontaneous, this is the time where you can experiment and try it on.  I have always loved the idea of reinventing myself, tweaking areas of my life that aren’t working and making myself better.  Upgrading.  Be open to what is possible.  What you are looking for might not come wrapped in the package you were thinking it would, but that doesn’t make it less exciting or less perfect for you.

Fresh Ideas and a Surge of Creativity

Because of all the self-reflection and resting you’ve been doing, you are probably beaming with fresh ideas and a surge in your creative juices.  This is the cleansing power of a clearer mind.  Use this positive energy to your advantage.  Finish the art project you have had sitting in your corner for months, start that blog you’ve been talking about or take that cake decorating class.  The energy of new beginnings is powerful.  Take full advantage of it.

How do I make the most of my fresh start?

Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude in every situation has the ability to transform your thinking and your way of life.  Whether your ending was a positive experience or not, practice being grateful for what went well, the lessons you learned, the support system that held you up and the greatness that is to come.  Be grateful for the chance to make different and better decisions moving forward and to honor your needs and your voice.  Expect great things to come your way.  One thing I like to do is write down three things each day that I am grateful for that have brought me joy.  Focusing on the positive really does make a difference.

Be Present

Although beginnings are usually filled with nervous anticipation.  Enjoy it.  Be present.  Focus on the good that it happening in the here and now.  New job, new relationship, new living arrangements, new school.  Soak it all in.  Some of the best memories are made at the beginning during the honeymoon phase.  Remember that eventually the newness will lessen and the mundane will kick in.  There might not be the same excitement and freshness when that happens, so enjoy every ounce of it right now.

Allow Life to Flow

These transitional time periods from old to new can be tricky and difficult to navigate.  Try not to force things into exactly what you’re envisioning in your head.  Allow nature to take its course and let things happen exactly as they should.  Don’t try to force it.  Definitely take inspired action, but be open to the possibilities in all forms, instead to trying to pigeon hole your life into this perfect mold that doesn’t really exist (except in your perfectionistic mind).

Learn Something New

Is there always something you have wanted to learn or wanted to try and have kept putting off?  Now is the perfect time to do exactly that.  Not only will it be fun and exciting, but it is propelling you forward towards more positive experiences.  There is no greater time to start something than the present.  And it may be a welcomed distraction from the old.

Focus on Self-Care

Fresh starts are really a time to turn the focus back on yourself.  What do you need right now to be your best self?  Do you need to change your diet?  Exercise a little bit more?  Do you need more sleep or to spend more time with friends or family?  Do you need extra time to be alone in solitude?  Listen to that inner voice that is telling you exactly what you need in order to glide through this transition with ease.  This would also be an amazing time to start adding little self-care routines to your daily life.  Now is the time to make those habits stick. Make YOU a priority.

There is Beauty in New Beginnings

 

This can be an exciting time for you, if you let it!  Remember to embrace the moment and enjoy all of the beauty that this new beginning has for you.  Fresh starts don’t have to be filled with fear and anxiety.  Make the most of this unique transition in your life and enjoy what life has to offer you.

What are your thoughts on fresh starts? 

 

How Being the “Good Girl” is Holding You Back

Being the good girl

Would you consider yourself a good girl? Always following the rules and doing what you are supposed to be doing. Not talking back or disagreeing with people, putting others needs before your own. Not making waves and keeping yourself poised and classy at all times. Being the hostess with the smile.  Sound familiar?

For the majority of my life I’ve been trying to keep up with my title as the good girl.  Even when it began to impact my life in a negative way, even when I got sick, even when my work started to suffer. Through hell and high waters, I was still going to be the good girl.

Until one day that didn’t work for me anymore. I wanted to be more than just the good girl.

I wanted to be great in my own right and the only way to do that was to break out of my good girl box.

 

Yikes! Scariest decision ever, but it continues to be one of the best choices I have made for myself.

Is being a good girl keeping you stuck? Here are 4 ways the good girl label might be holding you back:

1.  Your self-worth is based on whether or not you meet the “good girl” standard

 

As a child, I was labeled as the good girl. I did what I was told, followed all of the rules, made good grades, didn’t make waves, and tried to always keep the peace.   My poor sister, the free-spirited one, was always being compared to me. Honestly, it made me feel good.  I knew my place and strived for that.

As I grew older, my people-pleasing tendencies took over. I became so perfectionistic, that any mistake I made would riddle me with anxiety. I would continuously re-think situations in my head until I was practically in panic mode. On the outside, I seemed perfect, on the inside I was a frazzled ball of nerves. Instead of being praised for being a good friend or a kind person, my worth was based on whether I had the right grades, acted appropriately in social situations and said no to peer pressure.

The standards others set for me (and the ones I set for myself) became so unattainable, that each time I didn’t meet the mark, I would feel like a complete failure.

 

I still struggle with trying to rise to this imaginary bar I’ve set.

If your worthiness is attached to how well you follow the “good girl” rules, you may be sabotaging yourself in a big way. This is crushing your self-worth, which when healthy, can only come from within. Try reminding yourself that external things are not what define your worth.

You are worth it regardless of past, present or future decisions.

 

You were born with an innate worth. Don’t let that be taken away from you. You don’t have to prove your worthiness to anyone.

What is defining your self-worth? External ideals and things, or your internal value as a human being?


2.  your creativity is being squashed

The good girl box can be suffocating. Feeling like you need to put on a show and always be “good” can be a huge detriment, especially if you would consider yourself a creative like I do. Whether your art is drawing, painting, writing, singing, crafting, speaking or something else.

If you often find you have someone else’s voice in your head telling you what you can and cannot do, your inner good girl might be holding you back.

Do you often find yourself changing your creative path because something might be too risky (or risqué!), too impractical, too “out there,” too expensive, too this, too that!

This is the beginning of the fear that you are not good enough. That taking any type of risk outside of the good girl box is not only the wrong choice for you, but actually dangerous and detrimental. This leads to the dreaded play it safe mentality.

I played it safe for over two decades of my life, and because of it, I was not reaching my full potential. It wasn’t until I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, that I began to really experience life.

Sure, risk is scary and there are no guarantees, but the reward has often been worth the risk.

The greatness you can achieve, if you jump out of your box, has no ceiling.

How freeing to be able to do your craft with no real or imagined boundaries holding you back.

How has the good girl ideal held you back creatively? What would happen creatively if you were to let go of that ideal?


3.  You aren’t completing your life’s mission (or worse, You’re completing someone else’s!)

 

Don’t break the rules, don’t talk back, don’t disappoint. Being the good girl can really derail you from your life’s purpose. You do all of the right things, go to school for the right degree, get the right job and wake up one day wondering whose life you are living because this isn’t what you wanted.

I fell in love with psychology in high school and decided pretty quickly I wanted to be a child psychologist. It was a noble profession, people praised me for it and quickly got attached to the title. Ooooh you would be a doctor? I have to admit, I got a bit attached to the title myself. I was feeling pretty good about my life’s track, doing all of the right things to get myself there.

Then came the day of the graduate school entrance exam and I bombed it! BIG. TIME. My whole world was shaken in an instant, I felt like I had failed, not only myself, but everyone who was excited for my big dreams. I had to rearrange my plans, I started working a 9 to 5 job with a less prestigious title because I thought that is what I was supposed to do. I worked myself sick, (literally my body fell apart), doing a job I hated for much less pay than I was worth. I was miserable on so many levels. This was definitely not my life’s mission.

Fast forward a few years and I am working in a career I love, with a flexible schedule and I decide how many hours I want to work. I’m happy and better still, my work is fulfilling. Sure, this job has much less security and no benefits, but it’s worth it on so many levels!

When you don’t listen to your heart, and instead rely on the opinions or ideals of others, you may entirely miss your life’s purpose.

Your life purpose is so unique that ONLY YOU can fill it. If you fail to do so, the world misses out on your greatness! This is kind of a big deal!

I hope you are doing what you were meant to do on this planet. If not, you still have time to start. It’s never to late to complete your mission. Don’t feel like you have to do something to appease your parents or do something because it’s the “right thing to do.” Remember, you have the final say in your life. You get to decide what is in your heart. Embrace it.

Your life’s work should make you feel energized and inspired, not exhausted and drained.

How is your inner good girl holding you back from completing your life’s purpose?


4.  Your needs are being sacrificed for the needs of others

 

Is the saying good girls finish last feeling true for you? It might be because you are too busy thinking about the needs of everyone else, and you have completely forgotten to finish your own race!

If you’re anything like I am, I bet your inner good girl is always telling you to be kind, be hospitable and keep your mouth shut. Go with the flow, put on your smiling face. How many times have you caught yourself saying “No, it’s ok.” “Don’t worry about it.” Even though inside you are steaming.

Most of us good girls are natural born nurturers and helpers, but sometimes we do this to our detriment.

It’s ok to want to do things for your significant other, but are they now expecting it? Are you getting what you need?  It’s ok to work extra at your job, but are you working yourself to death? Are you getting compensated for the extra effort?

Remember, your needs are just as important as the needs of others.

Sometimes you have to make waves. Sometimes you have to set boundaries.

It’s ok. It’s healthy! And you will ultimately feel better about the situation because of it.

Don’t be afraid to speak up, even if it’s a taboo topic for a good girl. It can be really scary for the good girl to talk about  topics such as money and sex. But, you’re worth it, your needs and desires need to be met too! It’s like ripping off a band-aid. You just have to do it. You will feel better for speaking up, even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you had hoped for.

 If you are always saying yes to everyone else and no to yourself, you are putting yourself at risk of being taken advantage of. Good girls have a tendency to become doormats too quickly. Don’t get caught up in that trap.

Make sure that your needs are being met. If not, make them known. This isn’t mean, it’s assertive and assertiveness is a key component to your greatness!

How is your good girl ideal keeping you from getting your needs met? How can you assert yourself in areas where you aren’t getting your needs met?

Hopefully, your inner good girl isn’t sinking you like quicksand. Who needs that label anyways? Pull your hair out of that pony and embrace the life YOU want to live.

The Art of Setting Boundaries

How to set BoundariesDo you have a difficult time saying no?  Do you feel like people walk all over you? Do you let things slide too often? You may be lacking boundaries. Everybody needs to be able to set boundaries. They are absolutely necessary for getting your needs met and feeling good about yourself. Boundaries are essential to your self-respect. But, what is a boundary really?

Well, a boundary is something we put in place to ensure that we are safe.   It defines what we are and what we are not. What is our responsibility and what is not. It keeps the bad out and the good in.   Boundaries teach people how to treat you. Imagine yourself in a room. You feel completely safe and protected in this room. Now imagine the room you are in has a locked door (with a peep hole).   You get to decide who/what comes in and who/what leaves. Now imagine yourself in the same room only this one has a revolving door. Do you still feel safe? You can no longer control what comes in and what goes out. You are at the mercy of others. This is the difference between healthy and poor boundaries.

Boundaries act as a divider between what is “our stuff” and what is “everyone else’s stuff.” They give us a sense of ownership and responsibility. Many people have a difficult time not taking on other people’s stuff or not owning up to their own stuff. The “stuff” can consist of pretty much anything: our feelings and emotions, our bodies, our wants and needs, our choices etc. and boundaries need to be set for all of them. You probably do some of it already without even noticing.

Why is it so difficult to set boundaries?

Most people have a difficult time setting boundaries because of fear. It’s scary to stand up for yourself, especially if you’ve never done it before.  You may be nervous that you are going to upset or offend someone. You may fear that you might lose a relationship or friendship. Or you just don’t want people to think you’re being selfish.

I have always been someone who struggles with setting boundaries. I don’t like to rock the boat if I don’t have to. Unfortunately, this can lead to people taking advantage of me and getting away with more than they should. As a recovering people pleaser, I was always so scared that setting boundaries would make people not like me, that they would think I was being rude. It’s still a struggle for me to not just let things slide.  But I find that when I do muster up the courage to set good boundaries, most of the time people rise up and respect them and I feel good about myself for standing my ground.

Here’s the hard truth. People may not respond well when you start to set boundaries, especially if you have never done it before. Especially if you’re the “nice girl” or “nice guy,” who doesn’t like to make waves. You might start to hear this a lot “What’s wrong with you?  You’re acting so weird.  You never act like this.”

Setting limits is necessary to living in your truth. If you don’t enforce your boundaries, you’re the one who is going to be feeling bad, not them.  The more we let people cross our boundaries, the worse we feel.

How do I set boundaries?

1.  Start from a place of love

Boundaries should be an act of love and respect for yourself and others. When you set boundaries, it is not because you are trying to manipulate them or make them feel bad. You are simply explaining to them what is acceptable to you and what is not. Conversations about boundaries should be had when you are calm and your intentions are pure. If you find yourself in the middle of a heated argument, take a break and come back to this conversation when you are feeling more level headed.  It may take several attempts to really get the other person to understand where you’re coming from.

2.  Use I-messages

This is a pretty basic formula for expressing your needs, but it can be really powerful.

I feel ______(emotion)_______ when you _____(action)________.

Could you please do _____(request)______.

If you do not do _____(request)_______, I will/will not do _____(action)______.

Here is an example of what this looks like:

“I feel frustrated and unappreciated when you don’t clean up after yourself. Could you please pick up your things when you are done with them. If you do not put your things away, I will not continue to pick up after you.”

Use these other phrases to help you set boundaries

  • “No” (Is this one scary?)
  • “I have a problem with that.”
  • “This is what I need.”
  • “I’ve decided not to…”/”I don’t want to…”
  • “I’ll think about it.”

Remember, you don’t need to give people an explanation. If you’re anything like me, you may feel like you need to make up a legit excuse in order to get out of an event or say no. That is not the case. You do not owe them an explanation. Be kind, but be firm.

3.  Stay away from absolutes

When speaking with others, stay away from using absolutes such as always and never. “You never pay attention to me.” “You always yell at me.”  These words trigger in others the need to defend themselves. People who are on the defense are not going to hear what you have to say and probably will not be receptive to your boundaries. The conversation is not going to go anywhere positive. It’s almost better to take a time out and try to have the same conversation at a later time, when everyone is calmer.  Besides, absolutes are never always true.  Try to stick to the situation at hand instead of dredging up the past and bringing up every instance where someone violated your boundaries.

4.  Follow Through

You finally mustered up the courage to set a boundary. Yay!  People will have a variety of responses to this, from positive to push-back. The important thing is that you stand your ground and follow through. If you tell your sister you are not going to lend her money anymore, stick to your guns and don’t cave. You will definitely want to, especially when she tells you it’s an emergency, but remember, you are setting this boundary for a reason. A caveat to this is, make sure that when you set this boundary, it is realistic and something you can actually follow through with. Parents make this mistake a lot when trying to set boundaries with their kids. They say things like, “If you don’t stop fighting with your brother, I’m going to give all of your toys away” or “I’m going to tell Santa you don’t get any toys for Christmas.”   You aren’t actually going to follow through with them and your kids realize this. Empty threats are useless. Follow through is key for changing behavior.

5.  It may get worse, before it gets better

When you start to assert yourself and set boundaries with others, you may feel some push-back. Especially, if you are more passive and have not stood up for yourself before. People may not know what to think when you finally begin to draw lines that they cannot cross. There may even be relationships that do not work out because the other person refuses to accept your boundary. On the surface this may be devastating, but do you really want people around who are making you feel bad in some way? This provides the opportunity to be upfront with people from the start. To be able to teach people how to treat you well.

Those people in your lives who do learn to accept your boundaries, deserve gold stars for their effort. Let them know often that you appreciate what they are doing and how much you appreciate that they are trying to be respectful of your limits. They deserve praise for this!  (They are also keepers!)

Boundaries vs. Compromise

For some of you out there, if you’ve gotten this far, you may be feeling a bit anxious about this whole setting boundaries endeavor. (I am a little just writing it!) You may even be thinking, but I can’t always get my way right? That’s selfish. What about compromise? Here’s the difference:

Boundaries are set to protect your rights, your truth, your values, your beliefs and your limits, whether these are mental, emotional, spiritual or physical. These should be the non-negotiables. The things that in a perfect world, you would not tolerate because you have a great deal of self-respect and know how much your worth. When people violate your boundaries you tend to get that sinking feeling in your gut, anxious, angry, like something is just not right. You begin to feel bad about yourself.  Typical boundary violations include: people asking for money, people not respecting your limits in relation to your body, name calling, shaming, and people who take advantage of your time or energy.

Compromise is more of a difference of opinion. Compromises tend to be smaller (not always). They are usually done for the greater good and each side is OK with the decision. I repeat, both sides agree to this! Compromise is a two-way street. Boundary violations are one-sided.

The flip side

Ok, so there is always the flip side to the coin.  Here’s the other side:  you are well on your way to being a boundary setting superstar.  Remember, that other people are allowed to set boundaries too.  Now that you are aware of all this, be receptive when people try to set boundaries with you.  Remember, they are not trying to hurt your feelings, they’re trying to keep themselves balanced.  It may even be helpful to be proactive in this and discuss with your loved ones if there are any areas where you are stomping on their boundaries.  (You might even get karma points for this!)

Boundary setting as a journey

This may seem like a giant endeavor to embark on, start by taking baby steps. This is a process that takes time, especially if you are new to all of this. Reward yourself when you finally begin to stand your ground. It’s going to be hard work.  It’s going to be scary, but it’s going to be worth it because you are worth it!  Remember how valuable you are!

How are you doing at setting boundaries?  Are there any areas where it is particularly hard for you to set your limits?

I’ve created a worksheet for you to start examining what you are tolerating in your life, that you shouldn’t be, and where you need to begin to set boundaries. Get it below.

setting boundaries worksheet