“I love the big fresh starts, the clean slates like birthdays and New Year’s, but I also like the idea that we can get up every morning and start over.” Kristin Armstrong
Can you believe that we have very few days left in 2021? 2022 is very fast approaching. Many may feel when it comes to reflecting on this past crazy, roller coaster of a year great satisfaction to see it go. It seems many have an extreme feeling of a relief that it is finally over. If this is you, I understand and I can totally relate. But despite the state of our world overall, joy was still found this year with new births, weddings, graduations, answered prayers and personal milestones achieved. Life still goes on and I am truly thankful for that.
Thinking ahead to a new year, I always enjoy the feeling of a clean slate. A fresh start is truly a beautiful thing. I recall many years feeling so excited with a whole slew of overly ambitious New Year’s resolutions written down and great determination to see each one of them come to pass. Oh, the things that I was going to do! It was so incredible to imagine!
I also sadly recall before the calendar turned to February that many of my very lofty goals had not been achieved and the great excitement of the New Year’s resolutions had completely disappeared. There I was left defeated and discouraged. My enthusiasm had vanished and I felt like a total failure. It was silly to feel that just because I had not been successful in January that that had to set the tone for my year, or perhaps even my whole life, yet sometimes I would allow myself to feel that way.
In reality I needed to realize that you and I can have a fresh start each and every day. It is funny to think why do we allow ourselves to walk in defeat when the gift of a fresh start comes with every sunrise? It is not about how we start but how we finish that really matters.
This may sound too simplistic as some of us are dealing with very dark and serious daily realities. Our circumstances may not change with the new day. It may take many days, weeks, or even years to get that true fresh start you crave. What can be fresh is our attitudes and we can partner with God to face the battle from a position of victory. This can be the very first step to having a fresh start.
Chuck Swindoll was quoted as saying "Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I respond to it." Much of what happens to us is not to our liking. Our plates are often overflowing and and we feel that we cannot handle one more thing without going over the proverbial edge. It is empowering to learn that shifting our mindset can be the key to handling what comes our way like a boss!
I have met many people who appear to have it all together. At first glance you may think their lives are perfect and they do not have one care in the world. Often the reality is quite the opposite. I have found that those people handle life’s challenges better because they have a different mindset. These people approach life with a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. I will explain the difference between the two.
A fixed mindset has the perspective that when it comes to our lives “it is what it is” and that things cannot and will not change. We feel that we are not good enough, change is too hard, our mistakes are too many, and acceptance is our only option. Many times this stems from past failures, negative comments that others have said or traumatic life experiences. Sometimes people speak negativity over our lives and we soak it up like a sponge whether we realize it or not.
I have written about my traumatic experience with my art teacher in years past in my blog entitled "The Power of Ish.” In a nutshell my teacher repeatedly spoke of me and my artistic abilities with extreme criticism and disdain. I picked up what he has putting down and I carried it with me for years. Even as an adult I was afraid to draw or do anything artistic, as I could always hear him taunting me in the back of my mind. I overcame this but it took great effort and time. A fixed mindset is crippling. We lie to ourselves that life as we know it is all there is when, healing, great growth and exciting new possibilities are available to us if we pursue them.
A growth mindset puts a positive spin on things we are learning or find challenging. We feed our mind with positive comments and uplifting self talk believing that in time we will improve. We are patient with ourselves and realize that life is a marathon and not a sprint. We tell ourselves that we can’t do that “yet” and it literally changes how we view the whole scenario. By adding “yet” to the sentence it is implied that we will get it in the future, at our own pace and that is the game changer.
I remember a young student was doing a reading assessment with me and before she even started she said sadly “I just want to let you know before we start, I can’t read.” I said “Ok, but what you really want to say is I can’t read yet.” Her face lit up as she let those words sink in. This was the start of changing her fixed mindset to a growth mindset. She broke the mental block that she had established and I am pleased to report that her reading really improved. What a momentous day it was for her and I when she was Guest Reader in our classroom. Guest Reader gets to read a book of his or her choice to the class and she actually was so confident she could barely contain her excitement. Quite a different mindset from a student who told me she couldn’t read. It was a beautiful moment to witness.
As we enter a new year, please know that change is possible. Set goals. Strive for them and know that we are all works in progress. You may fall. We all do. So what! Does it mean that you are failure? Absolutely not! It just means that you need to dust yourself off, adopt a growth mindset and get back in the game. Let’s work on our goals together. With the power of “yet” and a positive attitude there is no telling what we both can accomplish!
Let's go get 'em!
Until next time
Philippians 4:13: I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.
Little Lesson Learned: If you fail, celebrate your mistakes. Regroup and try again. Positive change will come in time if you keep believing.
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