My "starting over" time was in January--a perfect time for new beginnings don't you agree? A time when most of us start new diets, join the gym, write a new goal list, and so on. New beginnings, fresh, exciting—a great time to begin again. I spent this past New Year’s Day in my new home which sits on its own little perch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was in December, about a decade ago when I packed up my family, my personal belongings, and my pets and moved from our familiar and long-time residence, saying good-bye to wonderful friends, dear family members, and successful business relationships. Leaving a comfort zone I’d lived in for the past 15 years. Why, you may wonder? Because it was time—a time to move forward—a time for change. It was a time for starting over.
Starting over can be scary. Have you ever lost a job, or moved across the country, or ended a relationship? Yes, starting over can be hard and can even be frightening, and even sometimes painful, but it can be the best time of your life. The key is your attitude. While change can be sometimes difficult, change can also be beneficial. New opportunities will be presented for your personal growth and development. It is a wonderful time to re-examine other areas in your life. What other changes might you need to make to live a healthier, happier, and more satisfying life?
Starting over can be exciting! You don’t have to move, leave your job, or change your career to gain the benefits of starting over. You can start over today, right where you are, and begin to create the life you dream of living. When we really understand our ability to direct our lives where we want it to go it’s pretty empowering!
If you are anything like me, you might have postponed making some changes you need to make in your life. What have you put off because you are afraid, have been discouraged by others, or have failed at in the past? Examples might include pursuing an acting career, starting a catering business, or even getting married again. Get up close to your fear and examine it in detail. What is at the root of your fear of pursuing an acting career, for example? Is it your high- school drama teacher's criticism of your acting technique that has stuck with you all these years? Get a different perspective. That was only one person's opinion. Perhaps he/she was having a bad day when they lashed out at you and your work. If necessary, take more acting classes until you feel more confident in your ability.
Honor your dreams. Begin by taking a deep breath and resolving to see it through once and for all. This requires a shift in attitude of course. Act as if your happiness (and your life) depends on it. It does, doesn't it? Promise yourself that you will do whatever it takes to change the things that make you feel like you aren't living up to your dreams, up to your potential to live a joyful, fulfilling life. Do it so that you can look at yourself in a new way - with pride and respect. Prove to yourself that you are not a quitter and that you are capable of creating your own happiness.
REACHING OUT FOR HELP
Sometimes starting over can mean letting go of old ideas, negative thinking, or bad habits. And sometimes that may mean you have to reach out to others for help. The first step in any change is admitting you have a habit or problem in your life that is neither healthy nor conducive to real happiness is, as you well know, the first step to positive change. Whether the habit is smoking, drug or alcohol addiction, or overeating, you need to get help overcoming it. Physical and/or emotional abuse, while not physical addictions per se, can however be seen as emotional habits which may need outside intervention in order for you to get out of and avoid future abusive relationships.
The second hardest step is asking for help because pride, ego, shame, embarrassment, etc. can keep you trapped in your harmful habits. Someone I know recently said, “My pride and ego are killing me.” And in this case, no truer words were ever spoken. To reach out and ask for help, to admit to others that you can’t overcome whatever it is that stands between you and your happiness or peace of mind can be hard. You need to be very strongly motivated. One way to do this is to keep your focus on the benefits of giving up your habit, of not having to smoke, drink, gamble, or do drugs. Focus on the freedom from your habit. What will you be free to do? Exercise, get out of debt, or pursue a new career?
Your life is up to you. Prove it by kicking that bad habit once and for all. How many of your decisions in the past were made based on whether or not you could smoke, where you could smoke, and how often you could smoke, for example? How much of your life is determined by a habit (or habits) that is keeping you stuck and unhappy? That is even killing you?
DRIVING THROUGH OBSTACLES
It is true that life can throw us curves and it seems that how quickly we can "recover" can often be the difference between crashing and staying the course. I don't know much about race car driving, but I did once know a driver. He told me that one of the first things they teach you is how to "look forward" and instead of concentrating on the trouble you may find yourself in, look up the road, ahead, to the place you want to go. I have tried to live with a similar philosophy.
While many people have told me I am strong, I often felt like a coward, without the courage to "live in the moment" when the moment seemed too tragic. I got pretty good at looking at the road ahead. While it served its purpose during those times in my life, those habits or beliefs later created problems for me. I would not describe myself so much as strong as I would brave. Today I too am trying to live in the moment. To look neither too far ahead, nor back, but to sit still in what is… and that is the now. It is a different take on life for me and has required some effort on my part. Old habits can be challenging to break however the tougher the challenge, the greater the benefit!
My mentor, Arlene, once told me I could start my day over at anytime. Today, if I catch myself ‘acting out’ in an old behavior or bad habit, I can stop and start over right that minute and I must tell you that there have been days I have started over several times!
What about you? If you could create the life you’ve always dreamed of, where would you start? What changes would be necessary to make those dreams come true? What steps would you need to start with? What can you do today? How would you feel at this very moment if you were living that life? Would the effort to make the changes be worth the result?
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
1. How do you feel about starting over? Do you see it as a wonderful second or third chance to make your dreams come true? Or do you see it as just another attempt that is doomed to fail? Check your attitude and get to the root of your fears. Your success depends on it.
2. What dream do you want to pursue but have given up on? Why? Be honest with yourself. Do you still want to pursue this dream or will it no longer contribute to your happiness? If not, let it go. But if it will make you happier, resolving to go for it can inject purpose and enthusiasm into your life.
3. What is keeping you from asking for help? Is it pride? Are you ashamed? Are you afraid? Whatever you are feeling use it to jumpstart yourself into asking for the help anyway. In other words, instead of feeling ashamed, take pride in knowing that you are taking control of your life.
While you may have thought that starting over can be hard or even frightening, you will find that the benefits far outweigh the challenges and that starting over can be a new beginning for your new life. Why not start today?
You can do it!