veryone has days where they wish they could start everything over--different job, different partner, different college. You can’t magically turn back the clock to a time before you made mistakes, but you can take those mistakes and use them to inform your future decisions.
And, more importantly, you don’t need to go back in time in order to start over. Every day holds the opportunity to break a habit, pick up a new hobby, reach out to an old friend, or make a dozen other small but significant decisions to subtly change the path your life is on.
For those who are stuck in a rut, surrounded by a life you don’t want and don’t remember choosing, starting over manifests as bigger life changes--but don’t let the idea of change scare you away. Change isn’t inherently bad. In fact, it’s an integral part of life, and by embracing change you embrace your ability to reshape your life.
Starting over can seem tricky, but there are both small and big changes to be made. Of course, reading a list of changes to make is much easier than actually implementing them--we recommend keeping a journal or using some other method to record the changes you’d like to make and their potential impacts on your life.
How to Make Every Day a New Day
Use These 6 Tips to Feel Refreshed and Empowered Every Day
There are things you can do every day to help yourself become the person you want to be. Substantial, long lasting change is often built on the foundation of gradual change--by viewing each day as a foundation on which the next day is built, you can begin to center yourself and appreciate the importance of gradual change.
Don’t feel pressured to incorporate every change you eventually want to make into one day. Many of these changes are simply ones that require only a few minutes of reflection or very little action, but just because they aren’t as dramatic as quitting your job and moving to Alaska doesn’t mean that these changes can’t be important markers of a new life.
Reflect. Take time to reflect every day on the decisions you make, the quality of your life, your goals and hopes for the future. For those who like a set schedule, taking ten minutes in the morning for solitary reflection is a great way to start the day.
Journaling can help direct your reflection and is akin to meditation. When you make a habit of using journaling as a mode for reflection, you’ll become more adept over time at honing your thoughts.
Reflection also entails acceptance. When you reflect on past decisions you made, whether yesterday or ten years ago, recognize that what has passed has passed and acknowledge the impacts of those decisions while understanding that you cannot go back and undo what happened. Reflecting on decisions that have led to positive outcomes can be even more beneficial, providing you with a template for future choices.
Remind yourself of successes. A dose of positivity every day keeps the negativity at bay. Thinking positive thoughts has a number of health benefits, including stress reduction, and will help you focus your energy down productive paths.
Those who get caught up in a cycle of negativity and obsess over their failures may eventually find themselves unable to move forward and overcome those failures--by reminding yourself of the times in your life that you’ve been successful, you are redirecting that narrative of failure and reminding yourself of your capabilities.
Success looks different for everyone. Your success will be unique to you and may include things like completing an academic course, addressing addiction, learning how to make the perfect souffle, or memorizing all 50 states. Your accomplishments, little and big, say more about you than your failures and are more relevant to your future.
Try something new. Starting over means building a new life grounded in new habits, tasks, and ways of being. Without trying new things, you’ll fall back into old patterns and reestablish the life you wanted to change.
Try a new type of tea, take a new route home from work, wear that shirt you never do but always say you will. Just because you open yourself up to the possibility of something doesn’t mean it’ll become part of your daily routine--trying something new is simply a way of exercising your privilege to choose, a privilege many don’t have, and a way to break old habits while learning more about what you like and who you could become.
Set goals. How can you create a new life or make lasting changes without having a concrete goal in mind? Failing to set goals, even loose ones, makes it easier for you to revert to old habits.
Set small goals for the day and reaffirm your long term goals at the same time. Your short term goals to keep in mind throughout the day might include spending less time online, practicing patience, and incorporating more movement into your day.
Journaling, in addition to being a time for reflection, can also be used to help keep your goals organized and to brainstorm techniques for accomplishing them.
Be open to change. It goes without saying that starting over entails change. In order to make each day new, you must overcome your aversion to change and accept that changes that feel uncomfortable are often opportunities for growth.
Because change is a struggle for so many, embracing change becomes a daily task. Each day you must identify changes to be made and changes occurring in your life and recognize the inevitability and benefits of these changes.
Reach out to someone. Often easier said than done, reaching out to old friends or making new ones is an important step. The people you surround yourself with shape who you are by impacting the experiences and situations you’re exposed to.
Your close friends--and even your acquaintances--can become fixtures in your life around which you perform an identity you no longer want to be confined by. When starting anew, finding new people will introduce you to new ideas and give you the opportunity to break free from the expectations that have kept you stuck.
How to Start Over In A Big Way
Extreme Changes Guaranteed to Impact Your Life
For those ready to take the plunge and make big changes with immediate payoff, here are some of the options to focus on. While some extreme changes, like quitting your job or traveling, are not options for everyone, you can always work up to these challenges.
Remember, big changes don’t have to happen overnight. Take the time to implement smaller, daily changes and prepare yourself for more extreme lifestyle alterations.
Fix up your finances. This one definitely won’t happen overnight, unless you’ve experienced a recent windfall or won the lottery. Financial advisers and lifestyle influences can sing the praises of a debt free life all they want, but the simple fact is that paying off debts is a luxury many can’t afford. However, becoming financially literate is much easier and will help you learn how to manage your finances.
Learning how to manage money can prevent you from falling into greater debt and will help you in the long run as you strive to change your life. There are many paths to fixing your finances, so you’ll want to create a game plan specific to your own circumstances.
Quit your job. Not everybody can or wants to quit their job. But if this is something you’ve been mulling over for a while, it might be time to say goodbye to a job you hate working and find something else--especially if a big paycheck is the only thing tying you to your job. In the long term, happiness and fulfillment are infinitely more important than a six-figure salary.
Perhaps quitting your job opens up more opportunities for you--like the opportunity to accept a position elsewhere, move to another city, or explore different avenues for generating revenue.
Take a trip. Travel, you may have heard, doesn’t have to be expensive. And while this is true, there are plenty of prohibitive costs associated with travel--such as placing a job on hold or being fired--that make travel inaccessible to some. But it’s important to reconsider what “travel” means to you.
Travel doesn’t have to entail leaving the country on a lengthy trip. Travel can also look like crossing into another state to explore a park, taking a weekend to go camping in a tent an hour away, or driving a ten hour round trip for a meal. Travel is about movement, giving yourself the opportunity to experience things you wouldn’t in your daily life.
Make healthier decisions. Radically change the way you think about and relate to your health. Making healthier choices doesn’t mean losing weight, nor does it mean switching to a raw vegan diet and running six miles a day. Healthier decisions are made in order to reach a sustainable, healthy mindset.
Healthy for you might look like indulging your craving for ice cream and letting go of the restrictive mindset that forces you to limit certain delicious foods--recognizing that health is not tied to a specific diet or lifestyle, but rather to having a healthy relationship to food and your body.
Eating when you’re hungry, moving your body in ways that make you feel good, pushing your physical limits for fun, eating the foods you love--all of these are changes that will help alter your life immediately. Understanding how and why you’re feeding yourself and treating yourself the way you are is the first step. Are you doing what’s best for your body or are you perpetually trying to reach an unattainable, unrealistic, unhealthy goal?
Remember: changing your life isn’t about buying new things or creating a new persona. It’s about living more authentically, discovering what fulfills you, and embracing life’s opportunities, challenges, and changes.