9 Steps to a Better You in 2016


The start of a new year is a great opportunity to reassess where you are in life both personally and professionally. I’m sure this sounds like your typical new year’s resolution activity but it’s not. Making a resolution that is normally broken within the first 90 days is much different that actually taking a look at your current situation and taking steps to improve it. What exactly is required you may wonder? First you’ll need to revisit the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the previous year. You’ll need to assess whether you made great strides, did you get side-tracked or had to make adjustments. Once you determine that then you can answer the question, “Where are you and where do you want to be?”

Like many others I would take time at the beginning of the year to set goals for myself. The purpose of these goals is to give myself a road map leading to success. They were called as mentioned above, “new year resolutions”. In order to give myself a greater shot at success required me to make a change in my thinking. That change started with me changing “new year resolutions” to, “commitment” instead. Commitment to me meant I was taking responsibility and ownership for the plans I made for myself. This commitment didn’t allow me to easily give up should I fall short instead I was encouraged to make adjustments in order to be successful if my initial plans did not produce the results I hoped for.

Have you ever made a commitment to yourself? How did you go about setting that commitment? Do you take time throughout the year to assess where you are? Well here’s a perfect time to jumpstart 2016 in a different mindset. Below are my tips that I hope will give you reason to make a commitment to yourself:

Write it Down – Commitments or Goals are specific, measurable and time bounded. Write your commitments or goals so that they reflect all three components.

List Your Personal Benefits – Identify exactly “why” you want to achieve this goal.  List all the ways you will benefit personally.

 Analyze Your Current Position – Success is information dependent. You need integrity in your information. Identify your specific strengths, weaknesses and opportunities as it relates to achieving this goal.

 Identify Obstacles and Risks – List everything that could possibly prevent you from achieving the commitment or goal you’ve set for yourself. Identify Investments and Sacrifices.  List everything, including time, money and sacrifices that you can anticipate.

Identify Knowledge Requirements – List what additional knowledge you need to acquire or have access to.

Have Support Team –  List the people, groups, and organizations you may need help from as well as the specific role each one plays.

Develop Your Plan – List in chronological order each activity and their corresponding target date for completion. Use all the information gathered in previous steps to develop your plan.

 Set a Deadline – Determine on what date you will achieve this goal.

Reward and Celebrate – Identify your reward for the achievement of your commitment or goal. You deserve it! But don’t just rest on the successful completion, start again and make it even better. I can guarantee you won’t give up at the three-month mark.

Here’s hoping 2016 will usher in a new, positive, focused and determined you.

Your Best Self Revealed in 2016


In 2016 I want to encourage you to make a genuine effort to let your best self be revealed for all to see and especially you! All of us have different sides of our personalities. There’s the kind and good person. There’s the dependable and secure person, there’s the insecure, need a helping hand person and so on. But in spite of all those different sides of us there will always be a dominant side. So how do you determine what your dominant side is? And if that side is not the side you’d want to be the dominant one is it possible to change it?

My philosophy has always been that for me if there’s something about me I don’t like then as long as there is life in my body I can make a change. First of course you have to be certain that it is something that requires changing and in the process of changing  please be certain you’re not doing yourself or anyone else harm.

I believe that if I hold the candle to myself and see all my imperfections then I will be less likely to try to hold a candle to someone else. After all if I’m busy bringing the best me in 2016 to the forefront then I can’t possibly do that if I’m trying to help someone else be what I think is their best self. Did you catch it? Did you catch the key phrase in that last sentence? Just in case you missed it – trying to help someone else be what I think is their best self. Write this down and never forget it. It is not for us to determine what another person’s best self is. That is theirs to do, you can offer guidance and support if asked, otherwise keep your focus on you. So here are a few statements to ponder over this week as you begin to plot your journey to your best self being revealed in 2016.  And not just ponder them, answer them. No worries it’s not a test to be graded but it can serve as a guidepost along your journey to your best self.

For each of the statements below write yes if it applies to you. Write no if it doesn’t apply to you. But if when you read the statement it’s not a clear yes or no statement then put a question mark by it. I am easily misled by others in order to be accepted. I depend on others to satisfy my basic needs. I spend more time with people who define my self-worth. I spend more time dwelling on the shortcomings of others. I am comfortable standing up for what I believe is right. I react to situations based on what others think of me. I satisfy the needs of others before dealing with my own needs. I try to control others as a means to feel good about myself. I spend time trying to adopt standards others have set for their lives. I have something to offer that can help someone else. When people disagree with me, it only means they don’t like me.

Now look back at your list and ask yourself, “Do I need to make an adjustment in me in order for the best me to come to the forefront?” Be really honest with yourself and decide for yourself, if you need a little extra guidance to get started to your best self being revealed.

If you believe you can benefit from a little extra guidance then perhaps you’d be interested in a six-part series that Fresh Start for Women is offering to jumpstart 2016. This series is entitled, ‘From Adversity to Passion: A Journey to Your Divine Destiny and Joy’. This series is being offered in two formats. The first is as a guided online course that you can embark on at your own pace. The second is a live course which will commence on Saturday January 16th from 9:30am to 11:30am. The live course does require you to register in order to receive the pre-course materials and meeting location. You can register here. Either way we at Fresh Start for Women wish you well on your journey to Your Best Self Revealed in 2016.

 

Loving Yourself Through the Pain of Domestic Violence


With this being Domestic Violence Awareness Month I’ve had this question asked by young and old, men and women. My response to that is, ‘if you love yourself would you harm yourself?”. That’s your answer. 100% of the time your response should be no. Then if you wouldn’t harm yourself and you love you why would you entertain the thought that love is supposed to hurt?

I realize that many of us grew up in dysfunctional homes in which verbal and physical abuse was the norm. Just because it’s what you saw doesn’t mean it is right. Of course rewiring your thinking will take work but it is worth it. Settling for less than what you deserve is not an option therefore put in the work to uplift your self-esteem. Redefine your boundaries so that you do not allow negativity to dictate your thoughts and actions.

How? Start by letting go of the past and redesigning your future. Easy? Of course not! Doable? Absolutely! You have to take the first step and that step is acknowledging that you are worthy of true unconditional healthy love. Find a quiet room and sit down with pen and paper and describe your ideal relationship. Be specific leave nothing to chance. Now ask yourself, “Am I in this type of relationship now?” If the answer is no then you have two choices. 1. Have a conversation with the other party or 2. if you already know that it’s a lost cause then it’s time to put an exit strategy into place.

In the first choice there’s the opportunity to make changes that are beneficial for both parties. Lack of communication leaves the door open for misunderstanding, mistrust and unhappiness. Set aside time to really talk. Turn off the radio, video games, sports, news, television and cell phones. Pour a glass of wine or a fresh cup of coffee and talk. I mean really talk. Be sure it’s a 2 way street, this means one listens while the other speaks. Listen intently, give eye contact and have an open demeanor. Crossed arms signals your defenses are up and you’re only half listening. Then acknowledge any areas you may need to improve upon. It could be as simple as having a date night. But it could also mean you may need a third party to help you. In either case the goal is to renew, reignite and rekindle a relationship that’s been limping along. That is if you’ve both decided it’s worth saving!

On the other hand if you know it’s time to leave then be wise and plan your exit. You can find some excellent information in my free –book, Exit Action Plan: 10 Steps to Leaving an Abusive Relationship to help you .Even if your relationship is not an abusive one the tips inside are still useful. Having a plan is essential for success. Once you’ve extricated yourself don’t jump right into another relationship. Love yourself enough to give yourself time to heal and rediscover the unique individual you lost.

We all heal at different levels so don’t compare your situation to anyone else. You’ll know without any doubt when you’re ready to try again. Next time don’t repeat the same mistakes listen to that quiet inner voice when it signals something is not right. Guard your heart and only give it when you know it will be loved, appreciated and cherished. Above all remember to ask yourself, “Does Love Supposed to Hurt?”

Two Big Words – Why Me?


That’s a question all of us at one time or another has uttered. Ironically, it is rarely if ever done so when good things happen. So why is that? Have we somehow convinced ourselves that we should be insulated from tragedy, discord, unhappiness, strife or change?

Before I matured I counted myself in this group as well. There were times I wondered why did I have to endure the pain of rape, shame, betrayal, divorce, loss of my parents and other loved ones. Now that I’m a mature individual (not age but understanding) I get it.

All of it has combined to play a significant role in the person I have become. I’m more patient, empathetic, giving, trusting, forgiving and nurturing. In addition I’ve become outspoken on issues I hold dear to me. This not only includes domestic violence but also cancer (breast cancer), child abuse and healthy living just to name a few.

As I think of these I can recall an incident in my history in which I was personally affected by them and these experiences molded me to be the person I am today. As much as there’s a part of me that wishes I had not had to go through them the other part of me is grateful, for it has given me a reason to be vigilant and think about others instead of thinking the world revolves around me.

If you dig deep enough you too can find meaning, lessons and uncover a passion as a direct result of your experiences. As long as you’re a part of this big world called the human race instead of lamenting, “Why Me?” let today be the day you say, “Why Not Me?”

FREE to LOVE After an Unhealthy Relationship


Yes, you are finally free! Now What? It took strength and determination to break free. It’s going to take strength, determination and patience to ensure you are recovered from the experiences of an abusive relationship.

Keep in mind that there is not a one size fits all prescription. There’s going to be trial and error as you navigate your way to a healthy relationship. But regardless of what works one thing is important for anyone. What is that you ask? Love Yourself! Let me repeat that…Love Yourself!

This is important in the healing process so that you can begin to listen to the warning signs you previously ignored. You know the ones I’m referring to. Some made you feel special when in reality it was all about control.

Love yourself enough to not allow yourself to be cut off from family and friends.

Love yourself enough to listen to that inner voice when it whispers to you that something is not right.

Love yourself enough to treasure all you have to offer to the right person.

Love yourself enough to take it slow when entering into a new relationship. As a matter of fact give yourself time to truly heal and come to grips with the circumstances you were once in.

Love yourself enough to FORGIVE yourself for past choices and decisions.

Love yourself enough to discover the gifts and talents you have that make you special.

Love yourself enough to give love a second chance once the baggage from the past has been discarded.

Most importantly love yourself enough to be happy with your own company.

Yes, you are finally FREE!

Healthy Relationship Habits Can Transform Your Life


Everything in life boils down to our habits that we have.  Unfortunately, many of us have old worn out habits that don’t serve us any longer; especially if we had a lot of emotional trauma in our lives.  So we need to create new healthy relationship habits!

I want you to think about the stages of how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. The butterfly wasn’t always a butterfly as you know…it started as a very tiny egg.  Once that egg hatches, it becomes a caterpillar. It is during this stage that the caterpillar begins to prepare itself by first eating the leaf it was born on. Once it has reached its appropriate length and weight it begins to form itself into pupa, also known as chrysalis. Of course from the outside it looks as if the caterpillar is resting, but inside the caterpillar is actually changing. If you could peer inside the cocoon, you’d see the stubby looking caterpillar begin the metamorphosis of becoming a butterfly.  When it is ready to emerge from its chrysalis it will be a full grown butterfly.

So, let’s take the same process and apply it to you.  You’ve experienced some heart wrenching moments…physically, emotionally, spiritually, or a combination. In either case you’ve been blessed to survive it.

So now what?

Let’s examine your options:

  1. You could stay stuck in the past. Not a good option for it will cause you to miss out on some wonderful adventures. This could include meeting new friends and experiencing new things; including a new relationship rooted in respect and love.
  2. You could carry the hurt with you into the next relationship; again not a good option. Eventually you run the risk of not even enjoying your own company.
  3. Or, you could reap the lessons from the experience and move forward confident and ready to move to a happier and healthier existence in which you spread your beautiful wings and soar.
  4. Sure there will be setbacks along the way. The key is to persevere and stand rooted in the knowledge that you know how valuable you are. Like the butterfly you are able to bring joy to others as well as yourself. The events of the past don’t have to define who you are today.

It all boils down to changing your habits — how you respond to events that happen (in a healthy way, by staying present) and also by trying new things and new ways of being in the world!

9 Steps to a Better You in 2015


When was the last time you assessed where you are in life both personally and professionally? Sounds like a very simple question, doesn’t it? But what exactly does that mean? First you’ll need to revisit the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. You’ll need to assess whether you’ve made great strides, been side-tracked or had to make adjustments. Once you determine that then you can answer the question, “Where are you?”

I’m sure you’re wondering, why is this question important to answer? For me I’ve always taken time at the beginning of the year to set goals for myself. The purpose of these goals is to give myself a road map leading to success. Many people do it at the beginning of the year. They call them, “new year resolutions”. The problem, however is that 80% give up on those resolutions before the three-month mark. I used to be in the category as well until I made a change.

That change started with me changing “new year resolutions” to, “commitment” instead. Commitment to me meant I was taking responsibility and ownership for the plans I made for myself. This commitment didn’t allow me to easily give up should I fall short instead I was encouraged to make adjustments in order to be successful if my initial plans did not produce the results I hoped for.

Have you ever made a commitment to yourself? How did you go about setting that commitment? Do you take time throughout the year to assess where you are? Well we’re nearing the half way mark for 2015 so may I offer the following tips:

Write it Down – Commitments or Goals are specific, measurable and time bounded. Write your commitments or goals so that they reflect all three components.

List Your Personal Benefits – Identify exactly “why” you want to achieve this goal.  List all the ways you will benefit personally.

 Analyze Your Current Position – Success is information dependent. You need integrity in your information. Identify your specific strengths, weaknesses and opportunities as it relates to achieving this goal.

 Identify Obstacles and Risks – List everything that could possibly prevent you from achieving the commitment or goal you’ve set for yourself. Identify Investments and Sacrifices.  List everything, including time, money and sacrifices that you can anticipate.

Identify Knowledge Requirements – List what additional knowledge you need to acquire or have access to.

Have Support Team  –  List the people, groups, and organizations you may need help from as well as the specific role each one plays.

Develop Your Plan – List in chronological order each activity and their corresponding target date for completion. Use all the information gathered in previous steps to develop your plan.

 Set a Deadline – Determine on what date you will achieve this goal.

Reward and Celebrate – Identify your reward for the achievement of your commitment or goal. You deserve it! But don’t just rest on the successful completion, start again and make it even better. I can guarantee you won’t give up at the three-month mark.

Here’s hoping the remainder of 2015 will usher in a new, positive, focused and determined you!