Figuring out how to start over in life after a traumatic event like the loss of a loved one or a breakup is sometimes a saving grace.
It keeps us from holding onto the past, destroying our chances of a wonderful future, and gives us some direction.
As much as I hate to admit it, I’m an awfully sentimental person who struggles to leave the past in the past.
The pain and suffering I feel from unresolved feelings often plague me well into the future and tarnish some of the best experiences of my life. At least, that was the case until I made a conscious decision to start over.
Starting over in life can be hugely beneficial, and here’s how:
- You can enjoy your life and appreciate the moment
- It opens you up to experiencing the wonders of the world
- You exude positivity to others
- It opens you up to the possibility of falling in love again
- You don’t have to feel burdened by the weight of regret
Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you don’t even need me to explain why it’s important to start over in life because the feeling in your gut telling you to do it is loud and clear enough.
So, without wasting any time, let’s take a quick look at how to start over in life and then dig into the concepts in more detail.
- Take ownership of your feelings
- Let go of your regrets by facing them
- Make a list of 100 things to do, be or become
- Declutter your life of anything that holds you back
- Draw up a 1-year future plan
- Set aside an hour every day to educate yourself
- Put yourself in uncomfortable and new places and experiences
- Do what you procrastinate on the most
When writing this article, I had to really open myself up to reflect on what my life has been like.
I can’t expect to help anyone if I refuse to help myself and reveal who I am as well.
I’ve lost loved ones, I’ve been dumped when I thought I was about to marry my girlfriend of almost 4 years, I’ve been sidelined by some family, I’ve had school kids tell my entire class that I was poor and then treat me differently, I’ve struggled with an autoimmune condition, and much more.
With all of those events, I’ve played my hand a few times and fallen short.
Honestly, I can’t even begin to tell you how it pained me to allow the regret and demons of my past to haunt my life for so long.
But the one thing I know with certainty is that we are persistent and resilient. No matter what we face, we can bounce back from it.
So no matter how terrible you feel right now, no matter how impossible it seems, you will overcome this and build an amazing life. If I could do it, I have no doubt that you can too.
8 Steps On Starting Over In Life
1. Take ownership of your feelings
Trying to avoid or numb your feelings is the same as trying to outrun your shadow.
If you’re sad, accept it. If you’re depressed, accept it. If you’re lost, accept it.
These are not full stops in a story. They’re merely a page in your book that is begging to be flipped over.
Until you read the page and take in the message of the content, you can’t move onto the next page of the story.
You’ll remain lost and uncertain of yourself, and the only thing left for you to do is look backward.
And all that accomplishes is keeping you grounded in the past.
It’s unhealthy and an efficient route to self-destruction.
You’re feeling this way for a reason. Whatever that reason may be, you have to be brave enough to own it and work through those feelings.
You can only heal from pain by feeling it.
Anything else is just a temporary fix that doesn’t fill the void you now feel.
2. Let go of your regrets by facing them
Now comes the hard part: letting go.
It’s hard enough to take ownership of your feelings, but it’s even harder to take responsibility for those feelings.
I know this may seem counterintuitive, especially if the heartbreak you’re feeling is caused by the action or death of someone else.
But, even in those instances, we are often plagued with thoughts of hypothetical scenarios where we could have done something differently.
Unfortunately, we can’t, and we never will.
That’s okay. You don’t have to go back and do things differently. What will truly benefit you is going forward and learning from your mistakes.
Do things differently in the future, and that will reward you with newfound happiness.
Check out this article on how to let go of someone you love.
The past is a nostalgic drug that should only truly be held onto when you have reached a state of peace with everything that has happened.
The thing we need to do right now is face our regrets head-on. Now is when we take ownership of our role in the story and be at peace with how we messed up.
3. Make a list of 100 things to do, be, or become
So you’ve taken ownership of your feelings and have made peace with your regrets; now what?
Most people think that almost overnight, you wake up feeling completely free and empty to start over in life.
Unfortunately, that’s not really how it works. I really wish it did.
If anything, you truly start to realize how much happier you are when you’re already living a life that starts to look very different from the one you lived before.
When your routines are now filled with new activities and your goals dictate your choices, that’s when you truly wake up feeling as if you’ve started life over and everything is exciting.
One of the most impactful things I did was make a list of 100 things to do, be, or become.
This list seemed easy to draw up for the first 20 items, but after that, I was lost.
I had to do research and spend a ton of time digging back into my childhood to find a list of things that made me feel really excited and happy.
That’s when I remembered I wanted to become a fictional writer, do carpentry, and be a photographer.
In a week, I had drawn up a list of things that now resembled a life plan that I had never had before.
Suddenly, hope and enthusiasm filled me because I realized just how much time I’ve wasted living a boring life, which consumed my self-loathing and regret.
Grab a notebook and make an actual list of 100 things to do, be, or become. I promise you that this list will guide you for years to come.
4. Declutter your life of anything that holds you back
Out with the old, in with the new.
There is no one without the other. It took me a while to realize it.
One thing that was blatantly obvious but not to me during a low point in my life is the state of my environment.
Everything was an absolute mess, especially my work desk and personal space.
My mother always says that the state of your room is a direct reflection of the state of your mind.
Whenever my mind was cluttered with unhealthy and unproductive thoughts, so was my physical environment.
I haven’t truly adopted the idea of minimalism as yet, but I see great merit in reducing the number of things, people, and thoughts that are bad or toxic for self-growth.
Not everyone and everything is going to add happiness, positivity, and good energy to your life.
Total avoidance isn’t possible, which is why it becomes your responsibility to say no to these things and people.
I understand that this isn’t easy, but it is indeed essential. When you can make a sacrifice as an investment in your future, a deep level of care for your overall well-being is established with you.
That’s when you start making more choices that benefit you rather than falling back into old habits and relationships that break you down.
Check out this article on the 10 toxic beliefs that are ruining your life.
5. Draw up a plan for your future
We live in a world that encourages instant gratification, despite how scarily troubling and problematic that may be.
My biggest missteps and insecurities in adult life have been created by me.
How? Well, I failed to delay my desire for gratification.
When I wanted a bar of chocolate, I’d buy a bar of chocolate. When I wanted to binge-watch a show on Netflix, I’d abandon my flow of work to binge-watch Netflix. There are many more things I could point out, but you get the idea.
Living in the moment is not a good idea when you have not designed a life for yourself that has a level of discipline embedded in it.
Discipline is developed when you take consistent, calculated action.
Now, how can you take consistent, calculated action if you work on the fly or live in the moment?
What you need is a 1-year plan that delays gratification for a while and emphasizes growth.
In other words, before you go travel the world and live your best life, earn the right to do so.
Draw up a 1-year plan that requires you to work and achieve goals. By doing this, you can develop a stronger work ethic and craft a life for yourself that is conducive to a healthy, fresh outlook.
6. Set aside an hour every day to learn and do something new
Think about this for a second: what could you accomplish a year from now if you spent one hour a day educating yourself on something that could transform you and your life?
- You could start a side hustle that earns you thousands of dollars
- You could lose weight and develop a fitter body
- You could learn an instrument or a new skill
- You could write a book or build a blow
- You could learn how to code and create an app
There’s a limitless amount of things you could do and become efficient at by simply spending an hour every day on them.
Use your list of 100 things to do, be, or become for this activity. You’ll easily find things that are worth investing your time and energy in.
This is a more fruitful way of spending your time than wasting it on things that instantly gratify but slowly destroy you.
And if you need some help, check out this list of 100 things to do, be, or become.
7. Put yourself in uncomfortable new places and experiences
Perhaps you’ve noticed this already, but just as we enter adulthood, we jump at the opportunity to do new and challenging things, but once we do and when the challenges really test us, our impulse is to resign into a bubble of comfort.
Unfortunately, the true wonders of life and the growth from experiences bounce off the walls of this bubble, and we end up missing out on a lot of what we sought after at first.
As uncomfortable as it may be, putting yourself in a position to be challenged by new and unfamiliar experiences opens you up to a whole new world.
Furthermore, it starts to slowly overwrite the sad story you’ve probably been telling yourself for the last few years.
Pretty soon, you find yourself living a brand new life and feeling like a different version of yourself.
Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Sure, there’s risk involved, but simply prepare yourself for it.
If you expect it to be uncomfortable and tough at first, then there’s nothing that can really take you by surprise other than really having a great time!
The baggage you carried before tends to fall away too.
8. Do what you procrastinate on the most
Often, it is the things we prolong doing that can actually change our lives for the better.
I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time. Don’t you think that in our desire to avoid the pain of effort, we end up experiencing a slower, worse pain in the form of complacent failure?
Is it not wiser for us to embrace the notion of pain and hard work in an effort to win comfort, happiness, and ease in the future?
I truly believe that the separating factor between us and those who go on to live spectacular lives is the courage to face the pain of effort, discipline, sacrifice, and hard work.
Take a deep and honest look at all the actions you’ve taken lately and decide whether you’ve actually tried and made an effort or if you just slid through life as easily as you possibly could.
Chances are that you probably procrastinated on those things that could radically transform your life.
If you’re going to start over in life, you might as well make the conscious effort to prioritize those things that ensure you start living a life full of happiness and productivity.
I know it can be scary, but there’s so much to be experienced in life if we just stop wasting it on things that can’t be changed.
One of the most beautiful things available to us is the ability to start a new day and make a first impression.
You get to be anyone you’d like to be.
So why settle for being someone who has been defeated and broken?