Blog Entry Mission Fuel

Reflections: Start Where You Are

by Valerie Merritt

Open your heart to the hope of new beginnings—just take it one step at a time. 

--Valerie Merritt, Executive Assistant to the CEO at CBMA

Can you believe that we are at the second month of the new year already?  I’m excited because that means it’s Black History Month but here’s a question for you—how many of you have stuck to your New Year’s resolutions? That’s a bit rhetorical but I’m curious all the same? Whether it was to exercise more to lose weight, eat better, declutter, stop using profanity, or maybe just to live a better life, whatever that means. We set these "goals" for ourselves with the hope of keeping them, and after about a month or so, we've forgotten all about them, or simply gotten off track.

"Well, I've got some good news, you can grant yourself some grace and start exactly where you are."

Whether it's month one or month two into the new year, or six months in and not a new year at all, if you say you want to lose weight, then put down the donut and start today.  If you say you want to declutter your home or office, then start with one drawer at a time; or if you say you want to live a better life, then start today by making better choices.

I find sometimes that we put so much pressure on ourselves to accomplish things that are either unrealistic, not planned or well thought out, or maybe just utterly ridiculous.  But because we see others accomplishing their goals (so we think), we ask ourselves, why can't I?  I recall as soon as the clock struck twelve midnight on New Year’s Eve, the first thing I said to myself was this is the year you will drop thirty pounds—not realizing I should have been setting a plan to do so.  Needless to say, that lasted all of about two weeks and one TAEBO tape later, I’m still kicking myself for not planning better, but hope springs eternal and I’m starting right where I am.

Here's the thing, to everything there is a time and a season, and besides, it's never good to compare yourself to others.  You may be looking at them during a certain period in their lives not knowing what it took for them to get there.  As a wise person once told me, you can't judge a book by its cover--you must open it up and read all the chapters to get the full story.

So what the first 30 days didn’t go according to plan in 2020.  If you are still here and reading this blog--start where you are!  If you can, find a worthy mentor, seek wise counsel and new sources of inspiration, refuse every invitation to pity parties and co-signing saboteurs.  When you stop complaining and blaming and looking for excuses, you might begin to see real solutions and possibilities, instead of doom and gloom.  Open your heart to the hope of new beginnings—just take it one step at a time.  You will discover powerful ways to throw off shame, guilt, inadequacy, and that sense of failure, when you let go of the past, and embrace where you are, dump the old software, and reboot with a new attitude.

"Just know that starting where you are is a process, and that most of us didn’t get where we are overnight."

There’ll be good days and bad, victories and setbacks, but do all you can not to look back, and don’t be discouraged, no matter what. Surround yourself with positive people, thoughts and energy, and focusing on helping someone else as you progress goes a long way.  No doubt, you will have to leave some things, ideas, habits, expectations and people behind, but it’s ok, just know that better days are coming.  Be mindful to hold to the things in your life that are good and meaningful as you find clarity to begin again.  

Be firm with yourself but remember to be gentle and take better care of you. The process will sometimes take you in directions you never considered, but remember, “you got this” and don’t let what may have held you back or got you off track before, trip you up.  These aren’t just feel good platitudes but unadulterated truths. 

Remember, slow and steady wins the race so no matter what chapter you may find yourself in, in your own book of life--whether you've started something and didn't finish, or whether you have not started at all--today is the day to take that first step--with no pressure or pause--but with plenty of passion and purpose. Take a deep breath and start exactly where you are!

Valerie Merritt is the Executive Assistant to the CEO at CBMA. Learn more about her work here