7 STEPS TO START IMPROVING YOUR LIFE TODAY.

Taking steps to improve your life can be difficult even during good times.

We as humans are prone to being complacent. We are often not really ok with where we are at but lack motivation to achieve more.When you are starting at rock bottom moving forward (and upwards) can seem insurmountable!

For as  long as I can remember I have wanted to live life better. It’s not that I’m some sort of social climber! I never wanted to be rich or famous. What I wanted was to leave the labels and stereotypes of being a foster kid behind. I was going to live my adult  life on my own terms. However, as soon as I Aged Out of foster care, I realized I was alone. I was scared, but thankfully not homeless because my college financial aid package. Despite my anxiety I was also excited. Having moved to a new town to start college,no  one knew me. It was a FRESH START and an opportunity to create the life I wanted. Here’s a list of the actions I took. All of these actions are still viable and effective for anyone wanting a fresh start today:

1.       Create a vision

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 As a 19 year old college freshman I saw the world of opportunities and out of all of my options I knew I knew I wanted to be both an actress, and a wife and mother. I knew loved theater down to my bones and through theatre I would live passionately. I also wanted a family that included a good marriage to a man who would love me as I never had never been loved before.

When you create a vision you have to think about everything you want in life. Your Endgame has to be always in sight. I do this literally with a vision board. But list journals and digital options can also be useful.

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2.       You need a plan

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“If you fail to plan, You are planning to fail”

-Benjamin Franklin

Think of your plan as GOOGLE MAPS. It’s a straight forward (mostly) accurate step by step guide to getting you where you need to be. But sometimes google isn’t up to date and misses things like detours or recently construction and you find yourself needing to take a detour — which may take you longer, or cause you to change plans. 

You MUST Develop Grit:

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Here is where you need resilience.  In her book, Grit, Dr Angela Lee Duckwork talks about how “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals,” In our journey grit is the ability to keep moving forward no matter what obstacles are placed in your way. Not an easy task but made doable by ….

Developing a Growth Mindset:

That in its most simple terms, is not letting things getting you down. Its adding “yet” to the negative things we tell ourselves. Example “I’m not  good at math” becomes “I’m not as good at math as I’d like to be, yet” In Carol Dweck’s book XX, and her subsequence Ted Talk (give date). She explains that the brain is a muscle and that it can grow and expand to increase intelligence. Dweck challenges the stereotype that “some people are smart and some are not.” We can expand our cognitive abilities! It’s kind of surprising to me that we didn’t figure this out sooner, considering some great minds like Albert Einstein and Mozart were once thought to be developmentally delayed. 

Education:

There are many ways to be educated that don’t include a formal degree. And if you were a foster child after the age of 13 there may even be options for university degrees. I am an “Autodidact ”. That’s a big word to say that I am self- taught. I continually homeschool myself in whatever I want or need to learn. There is a plethora FREE educational resources online (some even offer degrees). Even YouTube (when you can trust the speaker) can be extremely useful. If you do better in a class setting, many charities offer free classes.  I’ve taken some computer classes at my local Goodwill.

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Possibly the most important trait you must develop is character.

Now it goes without saying that many Important people are lacking this. But as a person RISING, You must develop DIGNITY. And that comes through having strong personal character. We have no parents or family name to vouch for us. When people give us a chance they often see it as taking a RISK, We must turn that risk into a reward. That means we must be honest in our dealings, whether that is with money or HOW we work. But beyond just honesty, we must be gracious, we must  be pleasant, and we must be likable. We must take the brick of anger that often often rides on our shoulders, that sense of unfairness–whether perceived or true– and turn that brick into a stepping stone. Use that stepping stone to lift you to where you want to be. 

This is a brief overview of the essential skills you NEED to have to start to improve your life today.

Over the next few months we’ll dig deeper into each of these topics in my blogs, podcasts, youtube channel. Subscribe so you won’t miss a thing!

Until next time, 

Keep Rising!

Carob

Wisdom From an Old Teacher

Do what you can, with what you have where you are at” F.D.R

With school about to come back in session, I thought I’d share a lesson from one of my favorite elementary school teachers. Mr Garza, who was my 6th grade teacher. I’m not sure if this is true, but I was told by someone that the teachers drew lots to see who would have me in their class. In early elementary school I was troubled. I was a foster child and was pretty much unwanted. I wasn’t promiscuous, or rebellious, but socially insecure and very damaged. One day a girl in my class took it upon herself to both share (her opinion) my business, and to call me the most degrading name you can to a person of color.. I quite literally jumped over two desks and grabbed copious amounts of her hair. It took two teachers to separate me and her hair from the girl and while she took away two bald spots, I took with me the nickname “Scary Cari”. It remained with me the rest of the year. In Sixth grade my beloved teacher gave me the gift of starting over. He told me at the beginning of the year before I had time to get in trouble, That I was not my history. That I had the power to make of that year and my life whatever I chose and it stuck with me. (Much better than 6th grade math). My teacher gave me the gift of knowing I could reinvent myself and that simple knowledge quite literally on that day changed my life.

There are lots of ways to reinvent yourself, from costly plastic surgery to moving to a new location to massive weight loss and a beauty makeover. But the very first step for me cost nothing and absolutely anyone can do it, and results are almost instantaneous. What is this miracle I speak of..its simple, (Well subjectively speaking) it’s CHANGING YOUR ATTITUDE, Its choosing to be optimistic to look for and celebrate whats good about others, even if sometimes you have to dig deep. It’s sometimes swallowing your pride, sometimes making yourself a little smaller. (But not in a way that denies you respect) its being a source of Joy instead of strife. It looking for the perverbial silver lining. It’s using logic, terrible things will pass just as easy as those that are wonderful.

Very quickly in my 6th grade class, I learned to stop focusing on my misery. I developed empathy and could see and do my best to stop any hurt, it became sort of my mission and before long that sour reputation had changed to something sweet.

I’m not so naive as to believe its that easy, I was lucky in that my intervention happened while I was still young and not into any serious trouble.

For many their starting place is so so much worse. They are starting out addicted, they are starting out imprisoned, or maybe depressed, or simply not inherently likable. I can’t relate to all of that except to say, I have known people in such circumstances to turn their lives around. The key is simple to start.

How do I do that? You might ask. Well, I think you first need a plan. Not a short term today plan, but one that will help you create an ultimate vision for your life. Figure out where you want to be, and then work backwards, Don’t forget to aim high!!!!

Some categories you might consider are

1. Appearance. How do you want to come across to others. This should take in cleanliness and posture as well as style. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be presentable and to command respect. I actually, as well as many of my professional contemporaies, shop thrift stores, before considering something new. I save money but also don’t end up looking just like everyone else. Don’t worry, in a future post we can talk all about style and image.

2. Attitude. It can really take you far to have a “can do attitude” to let people know you are willing and eager to work hard, see hard work as an opportunity to prove yourself, not just to the would be employer but also to you. My husband, has made himself incredibly valuable and climbed the ranks in his company by being willing to go the extra mile, give service with a smile and make things happen. When we married, we lived in a former chicken coup, we know have a mortgage and a little piece of the American Dream. We have the things we need and many of the things we want. based heavily not on education but by making the very most of opportunities given. Be grateful for those chances you get, even if they seem menial, use them as a stepping stone.

3. Humility, perhaps it goes hand in hand with attitude, but to overcome you have to first acknowledge where you are at. You can just leap from point A-D. And sometimes you need help getting to B. There are a lot of resources out there to help you! Many of them free and not being utilized. While some are income based, there are several that aren’t. In fact I’ve taken a few free courses at the local library as well as computer classes at our local Good Will. Speaking of library, this is my favorite source for free knowledge! I’m also a fan of YouTube. Zig Zigler a famous motivational speaker and sales men, said “to become a success you must help others become a success”. I think many people in the YouTube universe apply this admirably.

4.Make your goals your priority. This is a hard one and one that I’ll expand on on a future post. but basically think about those things in your life that don’t support your vision and lose them, bad friends, relationships, whatever. Cut out that that would prevent you from being your own success story.

The main point is, if you want to change your life you simply have to make a decision to start. This isn’t like a diet where it takes a ton of will power, and for many it is the choice to change your perspective to believe it is possible to do better, that where you are starting is indeed, your initial turning point.