How to Start Over in Life: Getting A Fresh Start in 2021

Rachel Sharpe
Rachel Sharpe

So, maybe 2020 wasn’t your year. To be honest, it wasn’t most people’s years either. Maybe you need a fresh start in 2021. Starting over in life doesn’t involve changing every aspect of who you are, what you do, and when you do it. Sometimes, just making one small change will be enough to spiral a brand new and better 2.0 version of yourself. In this article, we’ll share how to start over in life with 13 easy-to-follow ideas to spark a new you. So, let’s start rebuilding your life back up.

How to Start Over: 13 Ways to Get A Fresh Start

Free meditation appDeclutter The Mind is an app that will teach you how to meditate, help you form the habit of a regular practice, and expand your mind to the teachings of mindfulness.

1. Your Personality Isn’t Permanent

In his book, Personality Isn’t Permanent, Dr. Benjamin Hardy argues that you can change yourself anytime and anyway. Your personality has changed a ton over the years. Think about your personality at the age of three. You don’t run around the house shirtless and in diapers anymore. (Let’s ignore that drunken night from a couple years ago for the sake of this argument).

As you gain more life experience, interact with different people, battle your way through hardships, fall in love, have kids, or even change jobs, you change so much. New experiences, obstacles, and paths are constantly being explored which causes you to grow. 

Science says people become happier as they get older and it’s likely because they finally figure out what matters in life. And so if you’re looking to discover how to start over, just know that you can get a fresh start this very second if you decide to. You don’t need a big epiphany or aha moment to get started. The power lies in your next move. Are you ready to take that first step to a new you?

2. Make One Small Habit Change

Woman smiling and working out in boxing class

Believe it or not, but one small habit change can completely change your life. Just over a year ago, I was the most miserable person you could ever find. Then, one day on my honeymoon, I made a sweeping declaration. For the rest of my life, I was going to do one good deed a day. No matter what. Forever. 

How did that one good deed spiral into other habits naturally? Well, after that declaration, I started reading books about kindness, compassion, and the human brain. I started noticing that I wasn’t actually the only miserable person around me. A lot of people were suffering and struggling through life but I was so busy chatting away in my head 24-7 I didn’t notice. Shortly afterwards, I met the most optimistic person I’ve ever met in my entire life. I used to hate optimistic people calling them unrealistic and delusion. But for the first time, I became intrigued by optimism and started reading books about that too. 

Within a few months, everyone in my family and friends was noticing how much I had changed. People were praising how optimistic and positive I was all the time. And it was shocking. I had done a complete 180 simply by doing a good deed a day. I never could’ve planned all the things that would’ve spiraled from that one action. And that’s why you only need to pick one habit to start over because the rest will naturally follow.

3. Give Yourself Permission to Change

When deciding to start over, you need to give yourself permission to make that change. That means accepting that the old you isn’t the best you. It also means killing aspects of the person you are right now. In the beginning, your brain will totally ask you, “What are you doing? This isn’t you.” And you’ll need to know how to silence those thoughts. You might feel guilty or find it challenging to let some bad habits fall by the wayside. But ultimately, to start over, you’re going to have to make a switch towards a better version of yourself. You need to let go of old habits that just haven’t been working for you. This newer version of yourself is what will make you happier, healthier, and a better person. So don’t listen to thoughts that surface about how you’re betraying yourself. Deep down, you know it’s time for change. And future you will be so grateful for the changes you start making today. 

4. Change Your Environment

Our habits are often tied to our environment. So, if you’re looking to finally figure out how to start over, you might start with a change in environment. Now, sometimes that’s not possible. If you’re married with kids, you shouldn’t abandon your family by running off to a new environment. You totally can start over in life even while keeping the people you love in your life. Remember, you’re making positive changes. So, how can you change your environment without moving out? You might spend less time with people who add stress to your life. If they’re related to you, maybe minimize the time spent with them slowly so you can regain your footing. You might change your environment, by carving out a new space in your home for yourself. Maybe you create a room that inspires you. My home office has kindness posters all over it. I add sticky notes of personal goals on my computer monitor. I add a Kindle on my nightstand to encourage my reading habit so I see it daily everytime I turn on my bedside lamp. Maybe throw in a few plants to bring more life into your environment. It’s subtle but it works.

5. Meet New People

Two people meeting over coffee

If you’re looking for a fresh start, consider meeting new people. Look for places where you can find people who share the same new goals as you, similar interests, or who embody the values and lifestyle you’re hoping to attain for yourself. There’s literally a Facebook group for every interest you can imagine. So you can meet people very easily on social media. You can also join meetup or networking events, join clubs, volunteer at specific charities, or just spend more time talking to strangers. By interacting and mingling with new people, you can practice your new identity with others who know nothing about your past. This identity practice will help you determine if the person you’re becoming is something that others respond well to. It’ll also help you firm up that identity a bit so you can start making the change. After all, once you start acting like a new person, you now become that type of person. So congratulations, you’ve officially taken the first step through your actions. 

6. Accept What You Can’t Change

So, let’s be clear: your past is unchangeable. If something unpleasant surfaces back up, you either need to own it, apologize for it, and prevent yourself from making that same mistake again. While your past can’t be changed, the great benefit is that you can learn from all your past experience. Often, the biggest cause of bad decisions in our past are those wonky little thoughts streaming through our mind. Learning how to control your thoughts (check out point 12 in this article) will help prevent you from continually going back to your old self. However, while you can’t change the past, you’ve got full control over your future. So, making the decision to start over and get a fresh start is all within your domain. What’s your next move?

7. Apologize to People From Your Past

To fully complete the process of starting over, you’ll eventually need to go back and face your past. I know there may be a few people that you wish to never see or interact with again. But sometimes, to move on, we need to have the uncomfortable conversations we don’t want to have to move forward. Otherwise, those parts of our past can continue to resurface and possibly cause us to go back to our old ways. Now, we’re not saying you need to apologize the second you decide to start over. It would likely be insincere as you’re still in early changes of growth. But there will be a moment, when you’ve grown so far beyond your past that you feel that it’s time to make amends for your past mistakes and any hurt you’ve caused others. 

8. Think About Your New Goals

The words "New Year Resolutions" written on a card

When we don’t have solid goals driving us, we tend to drift in all sorts of directions never making progress on anything. Aim to have one big goal that drives all your thoughts. For example, if you’re looking to change bad behavior, your big goal might be to make other people happy everyday. And so everyday, that goal drives you. Throughout the day, you look for opportunities to achieve that goal. With the focus of one clear goal driving your day, you’ll slowly notice that all the toxic thoughts that brought out the worst in you instantly disappear because now you’re focused on something positive. You might choose to have 3-4 secondary goals but aim to have one big one that captures the biggest focus of your day and that truly motivates you to get your fresh start. 

9. Jump Over Any Obstacles

You will never be able to remove obstacles. They’re always going to exist in life’s journey. So, instead of doing the impossible and getting rid of them, do the next best thing by jumping over them. If someone tells you that “you’ll never change” nod politely but ultimately ignore that kind of negativity. You won’t gain anything by arguing about it. If people tell you your goals are too ambitious, train harder and stay committed. Don’t ever allow yourself to become distracted by the naysayers or skeptics on your new path of starting over. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to, no matter what anyone says. The crazier your goals or behavior changes, the more skepticism it’ll draw. One day, those closest to you will see how your determination led you down the path of success to a new better, stronger, and kinder you. Your future self will inspire those around you who didn’t think you can start over.

10. Consume New Content

The content we consume each day can often seep into our lives. If we read conspiracy theories on the internet, we’re more likely to be paranoid, skeptical, and anxious. Those who spend time watching viral videos about kindness or good deeds are more likely to do good deeds. People who watch fitness and diet content are likely to make changes towards their health. Ultimately, if you want to make a big life change, you should consider changing your social algorithms by browsing different hashtags, websites, and groups. The more you obsess about the traits and qualities of the 2.0 version of yourself, the more likely it is that you’ll become that person. So spend some time investing in the content, future you would consume. 

11. Find A Support Buddy

Two friends in the field holding up flowers

This might be a mentor, a guide, a friend, a spouse, a counsellor, or a parent. Ultimately, finding someone who supports the change you’re embarking on is the person who will keep you accountable when you lose focus, when it gets tough, or when you feel like quitting. You’re fully capable of starting over on your own, but there is one big perk to having a support buddy. You can schedule a call with them every two weeks to talk about your progress towards your changes. By reporting your progress or challenges on your fresh start journey, you have someone keeping you accountable to help ensure that you commit to this big goal you’ve set for yourself. It’s that extra push that’ll drive long-term success. Be sure to pick someone who will be insanely supportive and uplifting for you, even when you temporarily move one step back. If the person knows how to communicate with you in an encouraging way, you’ll be able to get back on track faster if they’ve been supportive in the past. 

12. Practice Meditation

One of the best tactics to help you start over is to practice meditation. Meditation is all about mastering the mind game. Prior to getting a fresh start, our lives likely weren’t where we wanted them to be. Often, there’s hints of depression, anxiety, or other challenging emotions that are difficult to cope with. But the one thing that always destroys us when we’re down are our own thoughts. With a daily guided meditation practice, we start to train our minds to become more aware of when thoughts are leading you astray. Meditation helps us become more mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. And when starting over, you’ll want to ensure that your mind is strong enough to keep you at your best. 

13. Make Someone’s Day

Closeup of woman holding a friend's hand

When you really need a fresh start, a simple practice to try is making someone’s day every day. While meditation gets you in the right mindset to live mindfully, you need to step it up to the next level by following through with action. Every day, look for opportunities to make people feel happy, special, valued, praised, and loved. If you commit to doing that action every single day for the rest of your life, you’ll be able to minimize negative thoughts and rebuild yourself in countless ways. When life throws curve balls your way, instead of obsessing with what’s wrong with this given moment, you’ll be focused on how you can make this moment better for someone else. Believe it or not, the happiest people rarely think of themselves because they’re too busy helping others. And thus, they’re out there just living. Which is exactly what future you needs to be doing too. Live kindly. 

Conclusion

In this article, you officially learned how to start over with 13 different ways to get your fresh start. A meditation practice will help you regain control over of your negative thoughts and being kind towards others will be the action that leads you to a better life. You’ll want to make sure you have a good support system in place to keep you accountable on your journey. And while you might face some obstacles, there’s nothing you can’t handle. Your personality isn’t permanent and you can alter absolutely any aspect of your life right now to become the best version of yourself.

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