Ready for Change? Start a To-Be List with Elayna Fernandez

UPDATED: May 8, 2024
PUBLISHED: July 26, 2022
Ready for Change? Start a To-Be List with Elayna Fernandez

No one was more ready—or needed a change more—than digital entrepreneur, speaker and coach Elayna Fernandez. She was a single mother without a bank account, a car or the ability to drive, and was living in a foreign country. She felt desperate and alone when inspiration struck: she could choose who she wanted to be

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Create your own to-be list

Everyone is familiar with the to-do list, but Fernandez took it a step further by, at her most desperate moment, manifesting who she wanted to be. It’s what kept her alive then, as she wrote down that she wanted to be peaceful, patient, positive, present and a cycle breaker. And that first to-be list built momentum, moved energy into the right place and provided Fernandez with her next steps. While we all experience moments of despair, what we do in that moment is not as important as who we choose to be in the moment.

For Fernandez, the connection between her hand and brain while writing things down starts the flow of ideas that are helpful and empowering. She knew she wanted to write down her journey and share it with others.

The reason for the positivity

When Fernandez was growing up, she lived in a slum in the Dominican Republic and would visit the landfill nearby for fun. One day she found a magazine written in English filled with images of happy children and loving families. Fernandez believed that in order to have that type of happy life she needed to know that language. Later on in life, she realized that her vision of a happy life wasn’t for her, but for her children and any children she could impact by helping their moms to heal. She knew that being a traumatized mom could translate into pain for her child, so being positive and creating the to-be list wasn’t about ignoring her pain—it was about getting to the root of how she could heal so that she could be truly positive for her kids.

Change your mindset

To cultivate more positivity, mom entrepreneurs need to ditch the motivational guilt. The first step to doing that? Know your boundaries. What are the things you want to do that will get you the outcome you desire? Everything else can wait, because the urgent needs can often take away from the important ones. By clearing things from your plate that could overwhelm you, and not feeling defeated when you can’t meet impossible standards, you can better show up as patient and positive. You can also understand what you need to prioritize and protect, and ask if it will add or take away from your purpose.

Another tool is taking 90 seconds every morning or night to process negative emotions. You can either learn from them, find the gift in the situation or just witness it. It’s helping you unlearn things that are not serving your good or growth. 

Fernandez’s third tip? Remember what you loved to do as a child and consider whether you could do it again now. Whether that’s playing outside with your own child or coloring in a coloring book, these things bring about positivity and energy and help heal your inner child.

Finally, the little moments make up a life. Our brain doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined, so your brain emits the same type of stress signal whether there’s a lion in front of you or you’re in the midst of overplaying an argument in your head. So when you’re brushing your teeth or washing dishes, find something that associates those activities with phrases like brushing off negativity or scrubbing off toxic positivity. Make your intentions about healing.

Talk to yourself with kindness

Being a mom—being a human—is hard work and a long journey. In order to be more compassionate towards others, we first have to show compassion toward ourselves. If all you listen to is your inner critic, it can become a constant noise and almost an autopilot response. So when you don’t behave like the wise adult who has it all together, treat yourself with compassion and like how you would treat your own child. Instead of beating yourself up for things, tell yourself that it’s okay—everyone has hard days. Releasing judgment and improving how you treat your inner child allows you to transform so that you don’t transmit pain to others or yourself. 

Also keep in mind that when we make mistakes, we have many more chances to get it right. It’s about doing better, making progress and being more intentional and purposeful in how we show up.

Jill McDonnell is a Chicago-based content writer and communications professional. She has a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in public relations and advertising from DePaul University. She is currently at work on a psychological thriller novel.