Update – I’ve recently launched The Creatives Hour, where I explore my creative side and help people find a creative outlet to connect deeper with themselves.
We all believe in the power of fresh beginnings. Deep down, we know that it’s impossible to create space for new and better things until we let go of things that weigh us down.
Yet, starting over is one of the hardest things to do.
How often have you woken up feeling exhausted or weighed down by something that happened the previous day?
Or in some cases, by things that happened the week before, or the month before, or even years ago?
We want to believe that there isn’t anything that we hold against anyone and that we are living in the present moment, completely free of our past. But often, the truth remains that — we are what our past experiences and life events have made us. Hence, by default, some of our past always lives in us.
Nevertheless, there are many times when we just have to start over in our lives.
We need to start over after a setback at work or personal life.
We need to start over even after a bad unproductive week.
If we don’t truly start over, we risk contaminating our future and our new experiences with our failings from the past.
But, is it always possible to start over? The answer is yes. However, I’ve learned from experience that starting over has to be a daily practice. You need habits that let you approach every single day anew.
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. And if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.”
– F. SCOTT FITGERLAND
Here are the thoughts and practices that help me start fresh every day:
1. Accept Change
Much of our reluctance to let go of a past event or experience comes from our unwillingness to accept the simple reality — nothing is constant. Life around you is constantly changing, and so are you. People around you are also continually evolving. We can not hold on to a version of ourselves or others.
To start anew, you have to accept your current life instead of trying to escape it. Every day, take a moment to tell yourself — This is how things are right now. Often, this acceptance is too painful, so we try to hold on to something from the past to feel better. However, it’s this holding on that makes it so difficult to start over.
But, don’t worry, once you are mindful and your focus is on the present, the next tip will help you take steps towards a better future.
2. Visualize Your Future
We have a fantastic tool that we can access anytime we want — our mind’s ability to visualize.
If there are things in your present life that you’d like to change and improve, that’s a great starting point. You need to start devoting 15 mins every single day towards visualizing the life you want to live.
It might seem super scary at first. I was scared of dreaming big and even considered it stupid to talk about my dreams after my first startup failed. Yet, some things pulled me strongly like my love for dancing. I enrolled in dance classes and started showing up there. I felt a desire to pursue dancing as a profession, and initially, I was too scared to even say it to myself. It seemed so out of reach.
But that dream, that vision was there deep within my heart. After a few months of training twice a week as a dancer, I landed a freelance consulting project that allowed me enough time to start training full time, I was able to leap towards a professional dance course.
When you visualize, you don’t have to think about ‘how’ you’ll get there. You only need to see yourself there.
3. Anchor Yourself
Every day is a new day, but don’t we have those weeks during which the days seem to muddle up together? At the end of the week, you just wonder how quickly you got there without accomplishing anything that you set out to do.
Often, when you don’t have a set routine to the day, the boundaries between different days can blur. You might be sleeping at different odd hours and working at odd hours as well.
If you want to feel like a fresh start every day, you need to have an anchoring activity that you preferably do at a set time every day. Your anchoring activity could be your daily journaling, it could be your 30 min morning yoga, or it could be your meditation session. (It will be amazing if you can make time for all three.)
There are only a few rules to follow –
- Show up, and do this activity no matter where you are, what you are doing. (If you want to define any exceptions, do that at the beginning itself)
- Do this activity at the beginning of each day.
- Cut off all distractions while you do this activity.
This anchoring activity will mark the beginning of the day for you. And you’ll be able to start each day feeling connected and in tune with yourself.
4. What Can I Let Go Today
I believe that the happiest people are not the ones who don’t face any suffering. They are the people who have mastered the art of letting go and practice it daily (mostly unconsciously).
Most people think that letting go means getting rid of something unpleasant, and somehow, that makes the process of letting go more complicated. Letting go is all about making peace with how something affected you. It doesn’t mean you will stop thinking about it. It just means that you won’t be bothered by it.
After your daily anchoring activity, ask yourself a few questions –
- What feels heavy today?
- Can I let go of it by forgiving myself or someone else (or both)?
Practice forgiveness daily else you may end up harboring resentments that taint your present. Forgiveness is for our growth and happiness.
Psychologists define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.
However, forgiveness doesn’t mean acceptance, which brings me to the next step.
5. Draw boundaries
Sometimes, even when we want to start afresh and are fully equipped with all the resources to do that, we are cannot make progress. This is often because people in our lives are not ready to see us growing into that new person. Often, they don’t really intend to stop us from starting afresh intentionally. But, their words or actions tend to thwart our progress.
These people could be your peers or even your parents. Here are a few ways to draw boundaries to create space for your growth –
- Sharing only some aspects of your life with them
- Detaching mentally from their opinion about you by building more confidence
- Limiting the frequency of your communication with them
If there are people who emotionally or physically abused you in the past, then if required, take therapy to determine how to draw boundaries or cut off from them completely.
6. Clean Everyday
Do you just sit on your desk every day with your laptop placed between all of the mess? Do you forget to make your bed when you get up? All these things seem very trivial, but they play a massive role in signaling a fresh start of the day to your mind.
Even if you’re relatively tidy, have a small daily cleaning ritual during which you dust your room clean and just cleanse the overall energy of the place. This act of cleaning will feel like a reboot. When you feel like doing nothing, just clearing the mess from your desk will help you set things in motion.
It doesn’t have to be your room or your desk. Every morning you can take a minute to place your newly laundered clothes in your wardrobe correctly and place the dirty ones in your laundry bag — simple acts of cleanliness help in starting the day on a high note.
When you sit down at your desk to work or when you head out for work, you will have a sense of calmness in just knowing that everything is in place and completely clean. If you make it into daily practice, it gives you a fresh start every day.
Also, if you clean every day, you won’t need the much dreaded massive cleanup day.
7. Take your daily dose of inspiration
This practice is, by far, the number one thing that helps me stay in the best state of mind every day. We all have inner wisdom but we often fail to practice it in our daily life. That’s why inspiration and connecting to your ‘why’ has to become a habit. We need our daily reminders to stay focused on our path.
Inspiration isn’t something that we should rely to just stumble upon. Yes, it’s great to come across a great video or a blog post from time to time. But, that isn’t really a mindful exercise. We quickly forget what we learned.
So, here’s a simple thing. Take out some time in the day for your daily dose of inspiration. It doesn’t have to take too long, but it should nourish your mind and adjust your perspective so that you are armed with a great mindset as you approach the day.
It can be two pages of a book that you connect with. But here’s an important aspect. Don’t just ‘consume’ it. You need to write what you derived from it. Just make a short note in your journal otherwise you’ll fail to imbibe the learnings from it and carry them forward to your day.
I read a page of The Power and a page of Stoic Meditations daily (I thank my friend Chintan Zalani for introducing me to Stoicism). Next, I summarize what I learn from my daily readings in my gratitude journal. Those few minutes remind me of some of my strongest values and reaffirms my beliefs in maintaining a positive mindset.
8. Try To Maintain Your Body Clock
Sometimes what stands between us and our brand new life are our old bad habits. I still struggle with maintaining my body clock, and it results in some days that are not very productive because my energy levels remain low.
From experience, I know that waking up and sleeping at odd hours can feel like a vicious cycle that’s hard to break out of. If you can train your body to sleep at a fixed hour and get up at the same time, that will significantly enhance the overall quality of your life.
Nothing feels like fresh beginnings than maintaining daily streaks of good habits in your habit tracker. When you do that, you can see yourself growing into a brand new person altogether.
There are various ways to set your sleep cycle, and different things work for different people. I recommend putting your phone in airplane mode half an hour before you plan to sleep. Else, just put it away from your reach 30 minutes before you plan to sleep and get into your bed with a book (pick a book that’s not addictive, but rather a complex read.)
If you stay in bed long enough without distracting yourself with a screen, you will be able to fall asleep.
Some people recommend intermittent fasting to set the body’s rhythm. I have not experimented with it, but it might be worth the try. There are various books and podcasts about training your mind to wake up and sleep on time. The important thing is that you set an intention to do it and try to figure out a way that works for you. And the rest will follow. Just don’t give up after trying for two days. Such changes take time.
But also, don’t get obsessed with it and feel miserable when you fail to accomplish it. I’ve listed many other ways that work from me even when I am not able to sleep and wake up on time. Find out what works for you and slowly move towards it. Remember that the idea is simply that you sleep well and wake up well-rested.
Most people tend to think that starting over is something that you decide to do and implement in a day. But that’s how not it works.
To not get pulled back our past and get stuck in the same patterns, we need to make conscious efforts to start fresh, not just once, but every single day!
In this article, I’ve talked about things that work for me, and I hope that they help you. Just know and remember this — You can start over each morning.