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Ask the Experts: Starting Fresh in 2022

We sat down with Robert Lowery from Buffalo, NY and Marissa Davitt from Rochester, NY to answer seven of our biggest questions on how we start fresh in 2022!

Life and Leadership Coach, Robert Lowery is on a mission to help people create the life and career they desire. As the founder and CEO of RL Experience, Lowery empowers people with life changing strategies by encouraging them to look within to find the answers they need. He specializes in consulting for nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and youth development. Lowery was named to the Business First ‘40 under 40’ list, is a recipient of Buffalo Black Achievers Award, and was named the Boys & Girls Club’s Professional of the Year.

Certified Health & Life Engagement Coach, Marissa Davitt is a mother of two and a certified Life & Health Coach. Her goal is to help smart individuals who are feeling stuck in areas of life create clarity, success, and feel amazing again in their habits, health and relationships! Outside of work, she spends her free time with my daughters, exploring the vast nature trails of the Rochester area.


01. Pandemic life is unpredictable. How do I move forward when so much is uncertain?

RL: Try to look at the glass as half full. Throughout the pandemic, many people had the opportunity to slow down, take time for reflection, and find their identity. As a result, many people are evaluating their strengths and pinpointing the areas of their lives they want to improve. The current environment has forced changes in our routines, and many people have had life-changing experiences which often gives us a different perspective. It’s important to focus on what is most valuable to you, your family, and the community and make changes needed as a result.

MD: One good practice is the concept of just putting one foot in front of the other. It is true we do not have much certainty regarding when the next quarantine might pop up, what the rules and regulations will be, or whether or not we will have another surge. However, we do not have to be able to see that far ahead; we just need to continue along and roll with the punches. This is a good time to practice stress management techniques.

02. Health concerns, change, economics, and more are challenging. What are some effective ways I can handle stress and worry?

RL: Check in on yourself. Reflection paired with the extra time we’ve had allows us to look at our mental health and figure out what we need. Know it is okay to ask for help and seek expert advice, especially if dealing with conflict or trauma. Getting the help of a professional to get you through it and focusing on improving areas of your life can be extremely beneficial, as well.

MD: Things like these feel like they are out of our control. This can really exacerbate our anxiety and make us feel helpless. Self-care is critical. It is so important to turn inward, and we all have the absolute responsibility to do it. Sleep is so critical. It is also vital to move your body every day, choose good nutrition, plug into nature more, and unplug from tech use. Don’t forget to foster your positive relationships. Other humans in your life who are positive, give you good energy, and build you up are your support. Finally, consider working with a coach, counselor, or support group.

03. New Year’s resolutions are famous for being broken. What are some steps for making lasting change?

RL: This is where S.M.A.R.T. goals come in. This acronym is a popular framework for setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Resolutions tend to die out quickly and should be avoided. Replace them instead with specific goals that are obtainable and action-oriented. Goals paired with an accountability partner such as a trusted friend or coach can also help you make meaningful progress.

MD: When you want to make a change, you have to be willing to sit in discomfort for quite some time. Eventually, the discomfort goes away when the new you becomes the norm. Also, recognize that motivation typically comes after taking action. Practice your self-discipline. You can’t get a ball rolling unless you push it first. Finally, remember that little changes yield big results. Set small goals that move the needle just a little bit. This will have a compound effect over time. Small hinges swing big doors.

04. You can’t hit a target you never set. What is your best goal setting strategy?

RL: Check in with yourself internally to identify what you see in your life, what makes you happy, and where you spend your time. In my life, I set 4 key goals each November in areas such as personal life, family, career, and health. Categorize your strategies in each section. Then, use goals and measurements to track your progress. Being as specific as possible and measuring weekly or monthly can help keep you on track.

MD: Keep it simple and focus on one or two goals. In doing that, you will already be taking on change in multiple areas. Next, set S.M.A.R.T. goals. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound. As you progress, take many different types of measurements for success. Finally, give yourself ways to celebrate your progress.

05. One of the hardest things to do is to move on from hurtful experiences. How do I let go of the past?

RL: Forgiveness is a huge piece of healing. Depending on the circumstance, you have to decide what you have forgiven and what you are holding onto. If it is related to a relationship, decide if that needs to be mended or not. Going through a process of forgiving is very difficult, so writing down what you would say to that person to get past it and expressing yourself in this way can help you move on. You can’t control what happened to you, but you can control how you move forward from it. That gives you the power to get rid of whatever you are holding onto from your past.

MD: I love this quote: “Our biggest challenges are our greatest gifts.” Really reflect, whether with a coach, therapist or on your own. There is a time for grieving, especially after trauma or the loss of a loved one. However, the people who have gone through incredible suffering and not come out bitter embrace positive inner scripts. Finally, find meaning in the events that have happened to you. No one needs to tell you what it means besides yourself. It does not define you; however, the meaning you find can empower you.

06: Describe three essential “fresh start” skills from which everyone could benefit.

RL: Gratitude: Starting fresh means you have the opportunity to wake up the next day, turn the page, and start new. Writing down what you are grateful for and identifying the areas to start fresh can be a great place to start. Forgiveness: Let go of hurtful past experiences to start fresh with a clean slate. Getting rid of past resentment or situations that are holding you back are key to starting over. Goals: Identify a specific direction to take or a goal to achieve. Identify when you want to take action and start making progress immediately. Starting fresh requires having a vision and a goal to aim towards.

MD: Perspective: Take the time to step back for self-reflection. Figure out exactly what you want in the areas of your life, and notice where your “buckets” are full and where they are empty. Support: Consider working with a life coach, another professional, or even a group. Each of us needs a community, a support system. Mental Wellness: If you are struggling, consider seeking out professional support from a counselor, therapist, or other mental health professional. 1 in 3 people is affected by anxiety or depression. There are many different approaches, so be open to finding one that is right for you.

07: What is one of the best pieces of advice you have ever received about starting fresh?

RL: Just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and try not to overanalyze it. Also, don’t wait until the calendar rolls over; just jump in and get going. You will learn and adjust along the way.

MD: Actually, it is this exercise: imagine if you could wave a magic wand and wake up one day to find that everything in your life was the way you wanted it to be and feel. Allow yourself to dream and pay attention to what you deeply desire. Then, figure out what about your vision is different from your life now.

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