By: Jennifer Michael, Business Services Coordinator
As most of us relish the change in seasons from winter to spring, I think we can agree that we all look forward to the fresh starts in life from time to time. We get a fresh start on January 1st, at the beginning of a new school year, with a new car, new job or a new house. I anticipate a fresh start with each new season of my kids playing soccer. Sitting outside in the fresh air, with a wind chill temperature index of 23, getting a sunburn…or wait…maybe that’s wind burn. Ahhhhhh. Now THAT is fresh!
Sometimes, a fresh start can indicate that we are putting something negative behind us. Bad decisions. Failures. Fears. Mistakes. Maybe what’s fading into the background are feelings of confusion, frustration and weariness. We’re ready to move forward to something new. Something better.
I am in a season of life that is comprised of many fresh starts. Attempting to narrow down which one to write about has been challenging. While thinking on the topic, I realized that with each occurrence of some of the “little things” I’ve experienced, I’ve also experienced what I would consider to be fresh starts. I don’t know about you, but sometimes with the way my day is going, I could stand to have fresh starts multiple times in that one day! Remembering the following can spur us on to experience fresh starts not just at the beginning of the year, the soccer season, or when things are going rough, but any time we feel like we need or want a fresh start.
Be willing to try new things. A fresh start can begin with a new experience. That can be anything from taking a vacation with friends or family to learning about a new topic. Read books or listen to podcasts that are outside your typical areas of interest. Broadening your perspective and learning new ways of thinking can change how you feel about yourself and interact with others.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Everyone experiences feelings of failure at one time or another. I know I sure do. You might feel like you’ve failed in a situation at your job or in a particular behavior or conversation you had with another person. When we fear failure, often we won’t speak up or try new things that could bring great reward in relationships, jobs, sports and many other areas of life. We can learn from the mistakes we made and (hopefully) make changes so we don’t experience the same negative outcomes. These mess-ups help us learn what not to do the next time and that makes the would-be failure, a success! It’s easier said than done, I know, but you can build up some courage and start again!
It’s ok to say no and to take care of you! You don’t have to say yes to everything just to keep up or keep the peace. Distractions take away time and energy that could be more efficiently used to complete assignments and activities with quality. It’s always important to say no to things that are harmful to your mind or body and some of those things are obvious. But it’s easy to fall into the “yes’s” that can slowly drain your mental and physical energy. If you aren’t used to saying no, practice! Start with small things and work your way up to more significant requests. Try saying, “I’ll get back to you.” This will give you time to think about your answer without
feeling pressured or rushed. Freeing up time to regain peace and do something you enjoy can feel like a fresh start you’ve been needing. Taking time to care for yourself and your relationships is an investment you’ll be glad you made.
Make a change when change is needed. Change is difficult for many people. Sometimes it means making choices we never wanted to make and sometimes it’s making choices we’ve been waiting years to make. Making simple changes such as being more positive in self talk can be enough to break out of old habits and patterns and bring about a fresh start in your attitude and the way you interact with others. Other more significant changes might include where you live or how much time you spend with family on improving and strengthen relationships. The anticipation of starting anew brings hope and an expectation that something different and maybe even better, is ahead.
Celebrate the smaller wins while not losing sight of the big picture. Sometimes I get so focused on my kids’ future and how they will handle the big situations as adults that I forget to praise and encourage them for the little wins they accomplish today. It’s important to point out and celebrate the small wins. Not only does this apply to children, spouses and coworkers, but it applies to yourself as well! When someone accomplishes a win, celebrate! Take some time to do something special for someone who responds in a positive way instead of the typical response with anger or a harsh tone. Throw some confetti when your son or daughter remembers to change the water in the fish tank (hopefully the fish are still alive). Reward yourself for persevering and completing a difficult task or completing your to-do list, (some days checking off just one item is fiesta worthy).
As we spring into this season of new beginnings in nature and with what is most assuredly a better attitude than what we’ve had for a few cold and dreary months, I invite you to take a fresh look at your lives and relationships with hope and excitement. We can choose to make fresh starts in many ways and at many times. If you need a fresh start today, make one. I’ll continue making fresh starts, time and time again for as long as I have opportunities to make them.
Are you in a difficult season of marriage? Encompass Connection Center helps couples learn how to resolve issues and create fulfilling, productive relationships. For many couples, those issues can stem from a lack of participation. Just like any problem, though, participation issues can be fixed. We offer a free relationship assessment to determine your relationship’s strengths and potential threats. For more help, look into our RINGS Experience, which includes marriage strengthening exercises and a coaching model to help build real intimacy and growth skills.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.