Starting Where You Are: The Key to Personal Growth

A brand new year is here, and boy, are we ready for it! After the rollercoaster ride that was 2020, it feels refreshing to have a clean slate, a chance to burst out of our cocoons and embrace the opportunity to become better, shinier versions of ourselves.

Speaking of growth, I have to say, I had a pretty amazing second half of 2020. I shed 24 pounds, cut back (mostly) on alcohol, created 61 awesome videos, made strides in my battle against the anxiety monster, and, drumroll please, rekindled my daily writing habit.

Now, in this shiny new year of 2021, my plan is to build on this momentum. I want to keep these great habits going strong, and maybe even add a few more to my repertoire, like diligently tracking my time, keeping a juicy personal journal, and once I hit my target weight, getting back into the groove of regular exercise.

But sometimes, starting anew can feel like an uphill battle. It’s not just me; many folks out there face the same struggle. We often get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the task at hand and beat ourselves up for past missteps. I mean, I remember the glorious feats of strength I achieved during my Crossfit days a decade ago, and the thought of trying to match that now feels like mission impossible. It’s easy to fall into a sense of helplessness, isn’t it?

But here’s the thing, my friend: life isn’t a competition. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others or to some idealized version of our past selves. The only goal worth pursuing is becoming a better version of ourselves than we were yesterday.

To achieve that, we must embrace who we are and where we stand today. Sure, it would be fabulous if I could kickstart a fitness program in beast mode, but that’s wishful thinking. If we really want to change, we have to face reality and start where we are. No cheating.

And you know what? The same applies to you. If you want to revamp your finances, improve your health, nurture your relationships, or conquer new heights in your career, you too must start where you are.

So, my dear reader, let me guide you on how to kickstart your journey from this very spot.

Prioritize Self-Care
Take a pause, breathe, and make yourself the apple of your eye. Seriously. Your physical and mental health should reign supreme. Invest time and yes, some money, on self-care. Exercise, eat nutritious food, and don’t be shy about seeking professional help if needed. Self-care expenses are never a waste; they’re an investment in your well-being.

Assess Your Starting Point
Okay, now let’s get down to numbers. Set aside a Saturday morning for a financial inventory session. If you’re feeling ambitious, consider using nifty software like Quicken, YNAB, or Personal Capital to track your money. But even a back-of-the-napkin assessment would be a fabulous start. Calculate your net worth, list your debts, assets, bills, and income. Paint a clear picture of your financial situation so you know what you’re working with.

Define Your Destination
Having a general desire for change is great, but it’s even better to dive into specifics. Craft a personal mission statement and transform it into a series of tangible, smart goals. These goals will serve as your guideposts on the road to transformation.

Reconstruct Your Life, Baby!
We all experience bouts of “financial drift” where we lose sight of our larger goals. Starting fresh is the ideal moment to make changes, big and small. Scrutinize your spending, cut out the unnecessary fluff, and consider making daring moves like changing jobs or relocating to a more budget-friendly locale. Shake things up and design a life that aligns with your aspirations.

Don’t Compare, Don’t Despair
Comparison, my friend, is the thief of joy. Seriously, don’t do it. It’s an exercise in self-sabotage. Comparing yourself to friends and family is a slippery slope because you’re comparing your internal worst to their external best. Trust me, it’s a lose-lose situation. Also, forget about statistical norms; they don’t hold a candle to the unique magic of your personal journey. Focus on your own progress, not the achievements or benchmarks of others.

Keep It Simple, Silly!
Oh, how easy it is to complicate things when we embark on a new adventure! Trust me, I’m a true master at it. But the truth is, simplicity is your ally. Avoid the temptation to overcomplicate matters. Start with small, manageable actions. If your fitness program looks like a leisurely walk around the block each day, go for it! Remember, simplicity paves the way to success, especially when it comes to managing your money.

Seek Companions on Your Journey
Support is crucial when setting out on a transformative path. Seek out mentors who have walked a similar road before you. Pick their brains, learn from their experiences. Consider building a “personal board of directors” made up of trusted experts who offer sound financial advice. And don’t forget to connect with fellow travelers who can share the joys and challenges of starting where they are.

Embrace the Bumpy Road to Progress
Last but definitely not least, let me tell you this—change doesn’t happen overnight. There will be hiccups, mishaps, and experiments that don’t quite work out. And that’s okay! The key is to keep going, keep adjusting, and not get trapped in the pursuit of perfection. It’s better to make a good choice at the beginning rather than obsessing over making the perfect one. Perfection can wait. Progress can’t.

And there you have it, my friend. Those are the essential steps to embark on your journey of personal growth and transformation. Remember, you start where you are, not where your friends started or where you wish you were. This is your unique adventure, and it begins right here and right now.