Wipe The Slate Clean
It’s a new dawn therefore it’s a new day, which means a new life.
Sometimes we’d all like to hit the reset button and get a fresh start. There may be a whole host of reasons why you feel the need to start over, and there’s an endless list of ways in which you can do so. When you run into trouble and look around for advice the response you get isn’t generally have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?
But what if it was as simple as that? Okay, nothing is as simple as that. However, you can hit the reset button on your life. We all experience change throughout our lives. We age, we mature emotionally, we enter into and out of parenthood, we enter into and exit from relationships, and we retire.
There are all types of seasons of change in this life. We are quicker to embrace certain changes than others, but in almost all of those circumstances you may ask yourself how do I start over? Every new chapter feels like starting over versus a continuation of a story.
If you have ever felt like things weren’t working out, then you know how stuck you can feel. You know how unhappy life can make you when something isn’t right. It might have been your career, it could have been a relationship, or perhaps a single decision you feel as though you got wrong.
You know it’s time for a change, but you are terrified of making a decision to move things forward. Or you are terrified of starting over. For example, you are stuck in a dead-end relationship, you know it isn’t working because you want different things.
You think maybe you can compromise your values and desires because it’s too late to find someone new. First of all, whether you can find someone new or not, that shouldn’t be what stands in your way of ending an unhappy relationship. You will be happier single than you will be taken by the wrong person. Secondly, you will never know what could be if you don’t try.
Perhaps you have been with your employer for seven years at this point and while your position is comfortable, the thought of doing it for another seven is unbearable. You want more. Maybe you want something entirely different. Either way, it’s scary. You worked hard to establish the career you have and while you aren’t crazy about it, you’re afraid to step away from the financial stability. Or perhaps you’re due a promotion and walking away from it to start over elsewhere is terrifying. You’re terrified of failure, terrified of being unable to pay the bills, terrified of others judging your decisions. It’s a lot. Isn’t it?
It feels as though something is missing and you feel the need for a fresh start. Your finger is hovering about the hard reset button. Or perhaps you want to control alt delete to target one specific issue.
Why A Fresh Start?
Some of the most common reasons for those seeking a reset include:
- You’ve indulged in unhealthy habits and it’s having a physical impact.
- You are approaching burnout because you spend too much time at work.
- You’re over-scheduled constantly and you feel sick at the sight of your growing to-do list.
- You’re happier when you’re not with your significant other and dread going home to see them.
- You feel as though things aren’t going well with your significant other.
- You’re just tired all the time.
- You want to improve your life.
- You want to pursue a happier life.
- You’re tired of existing in a toxic environment or situation.
- You find satisfaction in new pursuits.
Meet Courtney. She is in a senior management position at a Fortune 500 company. At age 35, she has accomplished plenty and has been in the same industry for the last decade. She has a high salary, owns her home, and has a penchant for life’s finer things. However, with that comes a demanding job.
To the outside observer, Courtney looks like she has it all figured out. The next step would be a promotion or it might be settling down into family life. When asked if she is happy with her job, she admits that she wishes she had chosen a less stressful job. The problem is she is so committed to her lifestyle that it feels far too late to change careers or chase something new.
Courtney has financial stability and she’s afraid of compromising that. Then there’s the added social pressure. Her peers live a similar lifestyle and with it comes a status that she doesn’t want to lose.
She doesn’t want to lose her friends either or lose esteem in their eyes. Those are Courtney’s external struggles. Meanwhile, her internal struggle is risking losing everything she has spent the last decade building. To give up this job to search for something else? It’s not logical. But it would give her life more meaning.
Maybe you’re a Courtney or know someone in Courtney’s position. Whether you’re faced with the stressful demands of your job, you lack satisfaction, or you feel stagnant… it’s up to you to decide whether it’s time for a hard reset or to simply allow life to continue as it has been, closing in on you one day at a time.
It’s Never Too Late
It’s never too late to start over. Our society develops rapidly. While that can seem overwhelming it can also play in your favor because there is a constant stream of new opportunities.
You might be dreading a fresh start, but in reality, it is very exciting, you can create a whole new life, and with that comes a whole new set of opportunities and experiences
Let’s look at how you can start over.
A New Perspective
If you want to break free from your limitations then you have to take a large step back to gain a fresh perspective on what those limitations truly are. While on the surface, a limitation is something to prevent you from carrying out what you want. Underneath that, you will discover that a limitation is a thing trapping you in a loop, like a hamster wheel.
A limitation keeps you trapped facing the same choices in the same problems and forces you to repeat the same action time and time again. A limitation can define your life’s quality. If you want to improve upon your life then you have to break free from all of those limitations.
On the one hand, you may believe that your limitations are outside of your control. You may believe that your limitations merely happen to you. Your perception shapes your reality. Your reality isn’t all that important, what is important is how you perceive it.
Learning how to control the way you look at things is an important step in getting a fresh start. That small shift in perspective can create radical changes in your life, from boosting your motivation and improving your outlook to increasing your self-esteem and inflate your confidence.
Once you have made the decision to change your perspective and see life in a new light you can identify the challenges you may face. A hard reset isn’t just as simple as pressing and holding a button for 60 seconds. Things happen thereafter. So, what may happen, what might stand in your way, and how will you motivate yourself to overcome those challenges?
So, if your plan is to change your career path, you first need to identify what is standing in your way. Is it an education gap? Is it the job market? Is it your motivation levels or your aversion to risk?
If you are going to end a significant relationship, what difficulties may you run into? Do you need to look for a new place to live? Do you need to reconnect with friends and family you have lost track of? Perhaps you hate being alone and you have to get comfortable spending time with yourself.
Every fresh start will come with its own challenges. So, review what you would like to change and start over with and make a list of the challenges you might face. For every problem come up with a solution. This will help relieve some of your stress about a reset and help you grow more comfortable with change.
Know Your Values And Priorities
When you are determined to get a fresh start, then you have to ensure you’re headed in the right direction before you set off. That begins with identifying your priorities and values. The values you held at age 20 may still be with you, but there’s a good chance there has been a shift in both your values and priorities over the years. You likely have dropped some and picked others up.
As an example, when you first earned your degree and left college, your priority was to find a job and earn a paycheck. Time has moved on now and at this point in your life, you might be more interested in spending time with your family.
Make sure you are honest with yourself when identifying your values and priorities. If you aren’t honest then your fresh start will fall down before it takes off.
You have to break through the limitations that have been holding you back. You have to shift the momentum. The steps below can help you transform your actions and mindset to the change you need to make and break from those limitations.
- Discover Hidden Opportunities
You can see what is in the way, it’s generally visible to you. What you can’t necessarily see are the hidden opportunities waiting for you once you get a fresh start. Don’t be afraid to uncover those opportunities and celebrate them.
- Progression Planning
If you want to make changes create a plan to ensure your progress. You need a long-term goal that is broken down into a series of shorter-term goals that you can work on.
- Prioritizing & Investment
You have to invest both time and energy into making plans and chasing them down. Prioritize how you spend your time and make deadlines to make sure it all goes to plan.
- Good Habits & Motivation
Even if you have the greatest plan in the world, without motivation it won’t work. It won’t work if you don’t build good habits to keep yourself on track. Habits like setting goals, daily reflection, motivation, and perseverance.
The Fresh Start You Didn’t Choose
We have spoken a lot about choosing to start over. But a fresh start isn’t always a choice of one’s own free will. Sometimes you are fired from your position, sometimes someone else ends the relationship, and without any warning, you are suddenly forced into a fresh start and that can be a bigger challenge.
With no warning and overwhelming emotions, you have to start over. That may require a different approach to the suggestions made above, which is why we have compiled the below. That is not to say these methods below are not useful to those who have chosen a fresh start.
Regret is simply part of the territory for humans. It can sink you when you’re stressed out or it can help you swim. If you choose to use regret as a type of flotation device then it can help you shape your future through smart decisions.
Generally speaking, the regrets we have revolve around the things we do versus the things we don’t do. That isn’t to say you won’t regret taking certain actions, it’s just more likely you will live to regret an action you do take.
While I’m not one to encourage rumination, I do believe it is valuable to reflect on your regrets and take stock. Think of all the regrets you have been holding onto over the years and either write them under one of two categories – action or inaction.
What does this teach you about yourself? What does it teach you about your future? You can use your regret productively.
Your regrets can help you gain a clearer view of where you have been, why you went there, and also inform future decisions and actions. More importantly, it can help you avoid repeating your mistakes.
Since we already mentioned rumination, I think it deserves its own section. While rumination and reflection are synonyms, I would argue that the two are very different. I view reflection as brief and healthy, whereas rumination can edge into wallowing and over-analyzing. There is one effective way to avoid rumination and that is to surround yourself with good people who you can talk to about your worries.
If you are naturally a worrier, you can assign yourself a specific time of day to do all of your ruminating. That way, at the very least, you are effectively managing it rather than allowing it to manage you.
If you are walking a straight path and you come across a barricaded twist then you have no other choice but to take a turn or switch paths. If you think of our goals in abstract terms and focus on understanding the needs and wants behind the goal rather than the specifics of the goal, then you will find it easier to change gears when necessary (and it will be necessary).
So, imagine that your fresh start is the result of your spouse choosing to file for divorce. Right now, you are in pain and your focus is on starting over and trying to heal. The idea that one day down the line you might meet someone else is overwhelming.
It seems like an impossible dream. You can’t focus on that to move forward. Instead, you have to focus on what you want which will then open up an endless stream of possibilities down the line.
Or perhaps you are starting over in your career because you were laid off and decided now was the time to make a change. You will have clarity surrounding your goals and it will be easier to understand how to achieve those goals if you consider what you want.
Rather than saying I want to work in x, you could say I want to make my own hours and work from home. Or I want to work with supportive people in a supportive environment. From there, you can make informed decisions based on your true wants and desires.
If you were to boil down your mindset, how would you describe it? If your instinct is full steam ahead then you’re missing a trick. To plan your goals requires a different mindset than achieving your goals.
The necessary mindset for planning your goals is deliberative. It’s an open-ended pursuit to weigh your options and consider your strategy. You will have to research and gather information to determine what it will take to pursue the said goal. This is a realistic mindset.
The necessary mindset for pursuing your goals is implemental. This is the mindset that focuses on taking action.
With focus, you can shift from the deliberative mindset to the implemental mindset to set and pursue your goals. It’s understanding the need to change gears and then changing them to ensure you carry through.
Once you have finished the previous steps, it is time to harness your energy and focus on making it all happen. This is all about getting your flow going. If you have a hobby or interest, then you will know all about flow. It’s that state of being that you reach when you are so caught up in what you are doing you completely lose track of time.
You feel satisfied, you feel as though you’re using your time wisely, and you forgot to eat. That’s flow. You need to achieve that same state moving forward as you pursue your goals to create a fresh start.
Tips To Move You Forward
Whether you have chosen your fresh start or been forced into making a fresh start, the advice below will help you on your journey.
Try Something New
Education is good, experience is better, but so many people today have lived similar experiences. They watch the same television programs, play the same video games, visit the same restaurants, rinse, and repeat. What will take you to the next level is experiencing new things and putting yourself out there. Read a book in a genre you don’t normally read, take bigger risks, visit museums, try new cuisines.
If you eat unhealthily, then reboot your diet and try to live a healthier lifestyle.
If you look at your wardrobe and hate everything, try branching out and trying new clothes or a new style to go with your fresh start. Changing your physical self can help you trigger a necessary change in your mindset.
Is your environment dragging you down? Give your home a refresh by adding accessories or moving your furniture.
Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
Starting over increases the risk of failure, but failure is not something that you should be afraid of. What if you flipped a switch and recognize that failure is nothing but a lesson in what not to do in the future. With a growth mindset, you view failure as a minor setback and a lesson in development.
Step Outside Your Network
Don’t be afraid to reach out to people outside your existing network or community. Getting a fresh start means opening yourself up to new ideas and different people. You just never know what opportunities may open to you when you leave your comfort zone.
Adopt a Willingness To Change
Change is an inevitable part of life and if you are willing to roll with change, then you are going to have a much easier time in starting over and moving forward. Where you got today might not work the same tomorrow, but if you’re willing to adapt then nothing can hold you back.
Your Mission Statement
Every business starts out by writing a mission statement, there is no reason that individuals shouldn’t do the same. It isn’t about what other people think of your mission statement, rather it’s about creating a clear and concise message about what you stand for, who you are, and how that brings your purpose into focus in your life.
The formula for creating a good mission statement is to consider the value you do or want to create, plus the why behind what you do, as well as your expected outcome. For example, I use my love of words to inspire people to open their minds and think differently.
As a tool, your mission statement can provide you with a clear path to success and it gives you a template for saying no to anything that may be a distraction.
We often make an attempt to fit in with people and our environment because that seems to be the most effective way to move forward. Don’t worry about fitting in, embrace the parts of you that make you stand out. Don’t be afraid to stick your head above the parapet. You don’t have to change the person you are to become a success, you need only embrace more of what makes you the person you are.
Know The Difference
When you get caught up in assessing situations it can interrupt your learning process. You need to know the difference between an opinion and a thought. Thoughts are the product of thinking, which is the process of generating (original) ideas. Thoughts require attention and they require energy. An opinion? That requires neither. Instead of focusing on whether you like an idea or not, think about where the power lies.
Let Go of Hangups
If you allow yourself to get caught up in perfection, then you will never find happiness. You don’t have to pursue perfection, perfection does not exist. And chasing it will only get you tangled in wasting energy on all of the unimportant things. Know when good is more than enough.
You Can Be Selfish Sometimes
Sometimes it’s important to be selfish. Part of being healthy, part of being grounded means looking after your needs. While some people dismiss self-care as selfish, I’m not going to argue the merits of it. Self-care is necessary and you are going to be happier and healthier when you learn to look after yourself.
Celebrate Your Milestones
The road will be long and it may feel overwhelming at times. You can alleviate a lot of stress by focusing on milestones and celebrating each of them as you make achievements. Starting over will feel far more doable when you take every opportunity to celebrate.
Whatever you decide, a fresh start is possible at any point in your life, whether it’s a radical overhaul or a few small changes to fine-tune.
There are plenty of avenues available to you, all there is for you to do now is determine what type of fresh start you want and how best to go about ensuring that it unfolds as you imagined it.