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30 Days to a Happier Life

9. I take action, I have a plan, and I take care of myself.

Even tiny actions can help us move through change. When Julie Lenzer Kirk, 41, left a business she'd started 10 years earlier, she found herself endlessly checking e-mail and voice mail, missing her former colleagues. "After a few months, I realized my identity was still caught up in my old company," says Julie, who lives in Damascus, MD. "Then one day, I threw out all my old business cards. That single act made me feel like a weight was lifted from my shoulders — and I was able to move on."

Julie's next step was to dive into goals she'd always been curious about: working as a substitute teacher, redecorating a bedroom, and doing craft projects. Eventually, she launched another company, providing workshops and consulting to entrepreneurs. "I created a positive vision of my new life," she says. "I actually described where I would be in one year, three years, and so on, focusing on positive dreams and goals."

To keep that kind of positive momentum going, know this: When embarking on a change, it's easy to become so self-focused that all you can see are your own problems or challenges. To shake off this all-about-me mentality (which can lead to self-pity — the antithesis of positive change), perform an act of kindness for someone. "Ask, 'Who else needs me — a neighbor, friend, parent?'" says de Bonvoisin. "You start accessing the part of yourself that's altruistic, not self-centered. I knew one 9/11 widow who volunteered to help other victims after the disaster; that was the only way she could handle the huge changes before her." When you reach out, you feel connected to a community — which in turn feeds your own soul. And that's a wonderful way to face any change.

THE FIRST 30 DAYS OF ANYTHING!

To inspire you to make a change you've always dreamed of — or cope with one you're facing now — REDBOOK is launching a new column, "The First 30 Days." Each month, REDBOOK and change coach Ariane de Bonvoisin will guide you through a different transition, from going green to living healthier to improving your relationships. Let us help you embrace the never-ending changes in your great, big life!

And to get more pointers on change — right now! — log on to de Bonvoisin's newly launched Website, first30days.com. The site offers tips on how to get started (and stay on track), expert interviews, and ways to connect with others who are making the same transition that you are — all there to help you avoid common pitfalls and find the positive in any change.

 

Originally published on: May 1, 2008

 

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