4 Intentional Practices to Ground Your New Beginning

·7 min read
Photo credit: Jon Feingersh Photography Inc - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jon Feingersh Photography Inc - Getty Images


"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below."

Photo credit: Jon Feingersh Photography Inc - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jon Feingersh Photography Inc - Getty Images

Growing up, I always marveled at adults. How did they decide what kind of life they would lead? How did they go about creating it, and how could anyone possibly choose just one path? From what I could see, there were so many possibilities! So many things to be, do, and see. My young self decided she would live many lives.

Now, at 40 years old, I’ve realized that reinvention is what maintains my joyful interest in life. It is a necessity.

Designing my life to flow in chapters nourishes me and provides an addicting freedom and expansiveness with each transition. I’ve been a West Coaster twice and an East Coaster thrice. I’ve taken a circuitous but amusing route through my career—from working at a cheese shop in Yonkers to founding an employee well-being company in San Diego—and once boldly experimented with marriage. I’ve traveled, collecting education, friends, and stories from around the world.

Investing in my education and becoming a board-certified behavior analyst gifted me with the freedom and experience to work wherever I wanted, now with individuals as a lifestyle design coach and with corporations on their well-being and company culture. Finding a way to use my voice as an international speaker has given me a vehicle for creativity and setting my thoughts into the world.

This way of aligned and transitional living felt so natural and rewarding that it became the inspiration for my book, F~ckless: A Guide to Wild, Unencumbered Freedoms, which challenges women to overcome stereotypical cultural narratives and fight for their rights to live interesting and authentic lives, too. Eventually, I learned that anything I needed, desired, or felt was deserving of a container in which it could potentially grow.

Reinvention and freedom allow me to remain closely engaged with life and to live on my own terms. While it’s taken a special kind of risk tolerance and appetite for the unknown, deciding to start a new chapter doesn’t have to be big, effortful, or even recognizable to anyone else but you.

A new season usually starts with a tug at your proverbial sleeve, something that we feel but can’t explain. Many of us feel this at some point (maybe many points). But from there it can get cloudy as we try to grasp and find our way. We can lack clarity, purpose, and meaning, which keeps us from finding direction and taking action. At this point, we may build a narrative that change is too hard, not worth it, or not truly needed.

If you find yourself at this impasse, consider these practices to excavate a bit deeper. We are so much more interesting below the surface!


Get Brave and Go Deep with Intentional Questions

Reflect on your life up to this point—your successes, “failures,” lessons, and peak moments. Honor what comes up for you and try to allow any feelings that follow. This is the first point in which we can become dishonest with ourselves, so vulnerability and truth are critical here. Dump out the junk drawers of your soul! Everything you think and feel is perfectly all right.

Here are five questions to ask yourself in order to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re flowing to next.

When you put your life on replay, what are your dominant feelings?

What are you proud of, and what leaves you with a feeling of lack?

What desires have gone unfulfilled, or set aside for “someday”?

Are there any?

Are your wants and needs spiritual, emotional, physical, or intellectual?

This is the time to let yourself dream without limitation. Anything is possible.

Understand the Origin

If our desire for a new season originates from somewhere outside ourselves, the changes we make can lead to sadness, a lack of fulfillment, or self-sabotage. Emotions can be incredibly helpful in decision-making, but they can also skew our worldview and perspective.

To determine the origin, ask yourself, Is this desire for change coming from ego, boredom or an “I should,” or is this originating from somewhere more genuine?

You can determine whether your emotions or intuition are calling the shots using two strategies:

1. Relax into Your Body (Internal)

Where are you feeling a sensation? In your head, heart, or gut? Do you feel a “knowing,” or are you thinking logically or emotionally? Does this desire for a new chapter change with your mood? What stories are you telling yourself about this change? Intuition rarely comes with words but can sound like I just need this. Emotions can come with a lot of stories and noise, like If I do this/have this, I will be happy (worthy, etc.), and logic typically comes from narratives in our environment, usually in someone else’s voice or in the form of a “should” statement.

2. Journal Your Thoughts (External)

Create some peaceful space to sit with your thoughts surrounding this new beginning. Write whatever comes without judgment or edits. Then, return to it a few days later and see what you notice. Do you still resonate with what you wrote, and does it light you up even more? Or does it leave you feeling a bit deflated or disappointed that you don’t get the same rush as when you first sat down to write?

If you’re feeling pulled forward, intuition or genuine desire is likely the origin of this new phase, and you’ve got a fantastic start. If not, that’s okay, too. Everything we think, feel, and experience is information we can use.

Some lower vibration emotions like frustration, anger, or insecurity are fleeting, which is why it’s helpful to gain insight and clarity before making any plans or changes. Moreover, it can be seductive to start something new simply for the sake of starting something new—we love a good dopamine rush. However, this can put us in a perpetual state of starting but not finishing or truly stepping into a new phase.

If this is you, give yourself a break. All of this is completely normal, and with increased awareness and intentional consideration, you will learn to recognize what is a true desire with direction and what is simply boredom or a need for novelty.

If your emotions or desires have faded, ask yourself why they might have arisen in the first place. See if you can pinpoint your true needs by using words that fit this sentence: I was feeling excited and inspired by this new idea/project/lifestyle, but now I realize that I was simply feeling/wanting ______ (e.g., bored, regretful, restless, out of control in my own life, more freedom, more peace, more novelty, etc) .

Build Excitement by Telling Your Story

Whether you’re choosing a new job, relationship, city, or travel experience, imagine looking back on this time. From the day you decided to start anew (maybe that’s today) and throughout the entire journey, consider what your new chapter looks like. If a close friend were to ask, “How did you decide to __?” or “Tell me about how you __”, what would you tell them?

This does not mean you plan the entire journey! It means that you close your eyes and imagine telling the story of your new beginning.

The critical moment comes when you feel what this new season will bring, even if it’s simply a strong desire for the unknown that brings a smile to your face.

Take the Leap (or a Baby Step)

You’ve heard that any journey begins with a first step. You intellectually know that but still have trouble sticking your foot out in front of you. What you may not know is that this is validated by nearly a century of behavioral science. When you start something, even if it is an embarrassingly small step, you gift yourself with the opportunity to receive a reward from doing so, like a feeling, a compliment, a new friend, anything. It reinforces your first step, and so you take another step.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re a grandmother deciding to take pole dancing lessons, a 45-year-old deciding to go back to school, or a 30-year-old deciding to live completely outside the bounds of their upbringing. Once you are clear on your intention, your origin, and your story, the only thing left is to step into the chapter that awaits you.

In the words of Yvon Chouinard, environmentalist and founder of Patagonia: “If I get an idea, I immediately take a step forward, and see how that feels. If it feels good, I take another step forward. If it feels bad, I take a step back. I learn by doing."

You Might Also Like