Reclaim Yourself

Last year was tough. Youve probably taken a beating emotionally and financially. As a new year unfolds, resolve to create a new you


Francine Acevedo knows about starting over. She has been through many storms; her battle with depression is one of them. Overwhelming feelings of sadness led to several suicide attempts. Now 57, Acevedo has developed physical health problems, and she has recently lost several close relatives. Her most devastating loss was that of her son, Jermaine, who committed suicide in 2007 at the age of 29. Acevedo says this loss nearly killed her, but she turned to her faith for sustenance. “God’s grace and mercy have helped me,” she says.

The reinvention: Acevedo dealt with her grief by focusing on the needs of others. Through prayer and volunteer work, Acevedo works through the pain. A Bronx, New York, resident, she now sits on a local community board and runs a nonprofit, Amore House, which she created to help disabled and low-income people in her neighborhood. A professional hair stylist, Acevedo also offers complementary hair services through a local salon to women in need. She works with several organizations, including Dress for Success.
“Every time I was down on my back, I was resurrected. I got my second wind and I was back at it,” Acevedo says. “Blows can be low. You catch yourself, get back up, and keep going. You only fail when you get a blow and don’t get back up.”

If life has dealt you a blow that has you feeling like you’re down for the count, use these tips to help you get back up.

1. Let go of the past. “Stop giving your past permission to speak,” says Darnyelle A. Jervey, life coach and CEO of Incredible One Enterprises L.L.C. in Newark, Delaware. Assess your strengths, especially those that will help you reach your goal. Dr. Pamela Everett Thompson, psychologist and founder of Atlanta-based Building Bridges to Better Lives, suggests fact finding. Researching your goal allows you to feel empowered, Thompson says, and helps you to know the steps needed to take action.

2. Work your plan. Create a time-sensitive plan, broken down into parts. Enlist the help of a “mastermind group,” three people who can be a source of additional support and resources, says Dr. Alduan Tartt, psychologist, motivational speaker, and owner-CEO of Atlanta-based Visionary Minds Inc. Create an “intention contract,” which outlines your goal in detail. After you’ve created your contract, give it to one person who can check in with you periodically. And negative friends—let them go.

3. Think, speak, and write it. Visualize your goal and then write it down, placing it where you can see it every day. As you change your thoughts, also change your speech. “Stop saying ‘I’m going to try’ and ‘I hope.’ Say ‘I am.’ Speak as if your goal is in the present rather than the future. Change your mindset, change your life,” says Jervey.

4. Expect roadblocks. Staying positive allows you to remain focused on the big picture, instead of being derailed by details. Tartt recommends looking at the obstacle as a problem that absolutely has to be solved and then becoming a problem solver, rather than dwelling on the situation. “Everyone hits a bump and only those that see it as a process toward their success make it,” says Tartt.

5. Be prepared. Opportunity can knock at any time, so be ready for that breakthrough moment. Reinventing yourself is a journey—it doesn’t happen overnight. Remember to celebrate the small victories and to learn from the roadblocks along the way, says Thompson. And remember, you’re the only thing stopping you.

–Tamara Best

This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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