“With a 40-dollar couch from the Salvation Army, I started my life over”.
Those words hung in my mind as I listened to a woman tell her recovery story recently. After being stripped of material possessions, self-esteem, and a livelihood, this inspirational woman bounded back at life through recovery by beginning where she was, which in her case was an empty apartment, no bank account, and that single piece of furniture.
It is usually a new year that spurs the thought of new beginnings, but I have learned that the opportunity for new beginnings is present daily. There is no need to wait for a date on the calendar to start anew.
There was a time in my life when I felt completely trapped by the decisions I had made. I was in a marriage to the wrong person that no longer fit me. I had a good job in a career that did not feed my creativity. I had no idea that I could willingly begin again. I did begin again, but let me tell you, it was kicking and screaming. The change was forced upon me by my actions. I lived a life of fighting against everything and everyone. Life was heavy; it weighed on me as I felt smaller and smaller. I needed to start my life over, and without my consent, that is exactly what happened.
The good news is that starting over doesn’t have to involve a complete life reset as it did for me and my friend with the Salvation Army sofa. Starting over can begin with small decisions that can build over time, adding to what is good in life and removing what no longer serves you.
Figure out where to start
The overwhelming response to any change seems to be resistance, but I submit to you that change should be embraced. Incremental change is easier to digest than a complete overhaul of life. The trouble with deciding to make some changes is figuring out where to start.
Finding out what you do want involves figuring out what you don’t want. Much like cleaning out your panty, it’s time to start looking for what has expired in your life. For me, this means putting pencil to paper. Taking a complete look at yourself, your environment, and your relationships can start with a simple list of things for which you are grateful.
I set an intention each day to have a fulfilled experience. Before I rise from bed, I ask the universe to help me have a good and productive day. Often by the time I am halfway through the day, I have forgotten my intention. Sometimes things are not a productive or good feeling. It is at those times that I try to remember that I can start over. I can start the day over from that point of negative thought. It was a real revelation when I learned that starting over begins from where I am at any given time.
“I have to” versus “I want to”
Accepting that beginning again can happen at any point in my day, week, or year means that change is a choice, not a chore. It’s a flip of the script and statement of power. The choice to change becomes a positive idea. Taking control back from the abyss is an empowering feeling. The tasks and thoughts that began with “I have to” become “I want to” which can eventually grow into “I get to.”
A real-life example from my life is going to the gym. I am not a fitness guru, but I do know that it is helpful to my body if I exercise. Each day I have the same inner dialog. I begin with telling myself that I need to go to the gym. If I stopped there, I likely wouldn’t get to the gym very often. What I have learned to tell myself is that I want to go to the gym because I always feel better after an hour of exercise. Once I have convinced my inner couch potato that I will feel better after going to the gym I usually end up going.
It is while I am there when my “want to” often turns into “get to”. I belong to a wellness center that also serves as a facility for many people who are in the process of rehabilitation from health issues. I see people struggle to walk or lift the lightest of weight and that is when it hits me. I get to walk without struggle, I get to push myself on the weight machines, I get to have free range of motion in my exercise. A change in perspective can take me from dreading the idea of walking three miles on the treadmill or doing one more set on the leg machine to a feeling of thankfulness because I get to do those activities without physical restriction.
Just get started
I began this blog with an example of a woman who started over from nothing. Although her story is inspiring, the point is you don’t have to wait for a catastrophe to begin again. I started writing this blog three different times. It didn’t feel right so I began again. I didn’t condemn myself for not getting it right the first time, I simply hit backspace and starting a new paragraph.
Where you are right now is a perfect place to begin again.