In a world that has experienced a complete shake-up, many individuals are re-thinking various aspects of their lives. After careful reflection, a wide variety of men and women are decidedly seeking new opportunities and welcoming fresh starts. The question then becomes what shifts need to happen in order to attract different professional opportunities, draw the right partner into their lives, or reach financial abundance. Our lives are filled with a set amount of time – 24 hours or 1,440 minutes to be exact. This means that every minute we choose to invest in a specific activity or with a specific person is a moment we are spending from the days’ time bank. Now more than ever, we are choosing to spend with more care, in every which way.

At the beginning of this year, I made a vow to myself. I committed to getting saying goodbye to certain tangible things, relationships and time investments that I felt were holding me back from forward progress. I found myself at the start of 2020 craving real change (little did we know how much change we would be forced to embrace). Being a creature of self-study, I knew that in order to see the changes I wanted realized, I needed to create space for them to happen. This meant that I was going to have to dance with vulnerability. You see, removing the things I needed to meant eliminating many habits – habits that were familiar and provided a sense of comfort. In fact, studies have shown that removing habits is one reason why change is so difficult for so many people. It requires you to tango with fear of the unknown - paralyzing many to remain in situations that stifle their forward progress because the familiar feels safe. As the saying goes – great things never happen from comfort zones.

I was recently helping a friend move, which is a challenging undertaking in normal circumstances, and is especially difficult when you are downsizing. Cutting your living space in half means you have to make hard choices on what you are want to keep and what must be removed. In the process, you also have to look through all of the dark corners of your house where you store things you want to deal with later. Perhaps it is under your stairwell, in the attic or your entire garage. It is baffling how much stuff we can accumulate.

One of the people helping on the move, looked around and exclaimed, “I love your new place. I wish I could move however, there’s no way I could, as I have too much stuff.” In this literal example, the individual had made a choice to stay in their home that did not bring them joy, in an area they did not love living, so they could hold onto things they no longer used or needed, but were a part of the fabric of their history. This shows how powerful mental and emotional ties can be in preventing us from taking positive steps forward.

We talk ourselves out of doing things for a never ending gamut of reasons - because we have a job, because we don’t have a job, we aren’t smart enough, we don’t have the time, and so on. This mental clutter takes up a lot of space and if we want to expand and embrace the opportunities available to us, we need to make room. We need to throw away the thoughts that are no longer serving us, clear the noise and be open to new experiences.

While I won’t pretend that creating space for the next chapter – either personally or professionally – is easy, I have found a formula for identifying what no longer serves you, which can be helpful in taking the next step.

1. Assess People: Are the individuals you are surrounding yourself with helping you grow? Or are the holding you back? Are they holding you accountable to your core values? Or are they encouraging behavior you know is not in your best interest? The key here is to define what a great circle of peers, mentors and friends would look like feeds your soul, nurtures your mind and positions you to thrive.

2. Assess Situations: Do you find your current personal or professional situation one that inspires you? Or do you feel it confines you? Do you feel you have space to grow or do you feel stuck? This step helps define what a personal or professional situation would look like, whether at the office or home, that would allow you to channel ingenuity, creativity and opportunity.

3. Assess Time Investments: The things you are choosing to invest your time in – what is the return on investment? Do you feel energized after? Happier? More educated? Do you feel a positive return from your time investment? Or do you feel depleted? Depressed? This step works to define what good time investments would be that you find uplifting. Dare to consider things you have never done before to broaden your circle and elevate your experiences.

In a world full of dynamic change, there is no time like the present to complete a self-analysis. Setting yourself up for growth means being bold enough to face your reflection and hold yourself accountable. For me, I have found this process of creating space liberating and one that I will regularly revisit in order to keep evolving. I can’t imagine what I would be compromising if I did not create space for the next chapter – it’s worth fleeting feelings of vulnerability – as they pave the way for a better you.