Happy New Year! I adore fresh starts. There is something about having a clean cut that simply makes a world of difference, and although I do not believe you have to wait until the start of a new year (or new month, week, or day) to start changing and creating a different life, having a clean break of this enormity makes a world of difference.

Toward the end of 2015, I picked up my journal from the year and started flipping through it. I was physically cringing with each turn of a page. The phrase ‘if I knew then what I know now’ kept running through my brain as each sentence I read dredged up the memories of lost relationships, bad decisions, and incorrect ideas from this past year.

Reading through that book, I had a decision to make. I could let should haves, could haves, and would haves eat my brain. Or, I could face the fact that 2015 was one of the hardest years of my life, and use that information to propel me into the beautiful new opportunities that 2016 presents. I choose the second option, and for those of you who are currently struggling through what happened in the year of 2015, let me share the three simple things that are currently helping me and can also help you to turn the bad experiences, heartache and issues you faced into momentum for the coming year.

#1. Cringe

Yes. Cringe. Go ahead.

It is completely OKAY to be disgusted with how things went in your life previously. It is okay to shake your head at that romantic relationship that you should not have been part of, to be irritated with a completely dumb mistake you made. It is okay to be frustrated that you did not know the future in a certain moment, and therefore did things in the exact opposite way you would do them now. It is okay to be hurt over the things people did to you and the way you were treated by some.

#2. Accept

Yes. You messed up. People hurt you. Friendships were broken, money wasted, people passed away. There were tears and struggles and heartache. These are the things that make this planet earth and not Heaven. These things happened, and similar things will happen in the future.

Ignoring what happened is not a way of dealing with it. It robs you of being able to learn from the mishaps and mistakes, and it does not make it go away either-it just allows it to show up in your future as well. Look at what happened, and accept that yes, you have made bad choices and people have hurt you. Take ownership for what you have done and allow what others have done to you to be understood and thought through.

#3. Move Forward

Notice that I said ‘move forward’ versus ‘move on’. Moving on simply implies that you stop dwelling on it, which is a great start. Fix what you can, apologize to who needs it, cut ties where they need to be cut. However, once you have done your best to fix the past wreckage in your life, you need to step over it and keep walking. If you have done your best to fix whatever was still in your control, hand it over to God (however painful and hard that is) and keep moving.

However, when I say move forward, I do not simply mean that you need to quit dwelling. That is an amazing start, but it is only part of the equation. If you have previous regrets or have been treated in a terrible way, you learned something from that. Put the knowledge to use: change things in your lifestyle that need to be changed, change things about yourself that desperately need to be changed, and address toxic relationships and figure out whether you need better boundaries or if you simply need to let the relationship go. Do what you need to do to create the life you are trying to move toward.

Terrible mistakes, relationships, or decisions can be the fuel to brand new growth. You know what not to do-now move toward what you SHOULD be doing and who you should be around. I hope that these few thoughts of mine can assist in steering you in the right direction as we enter this new year, 2016.

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