Making a Fresh Start
Almost all of us have something to regret at times - it may be something we said or did, a failed relationship, time we wasted, opportunities we ignored, or mistakes we made. In all cases, particularly if it's a continuing cycle, a range of emotions usually follow - guilt, shame and frustration - to the point where we may even take it out on others and question our self-worth.
It's easy to feel trapped in situations - a job that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, a relationship that's lost its meaning, a reoccurring addiction, a dream that never seems to get any closer, loneliness, and much more. But each day is clean of our past mistakes. Each day is an opportunity to start again and to change the direction of our life.
If you're in need of a fresh start this year, consider these four things:
1. Forgive Yourself
Sometimes it's easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves. Many reason that while others may fail, we have no excuse, but this simply isn't true. We have all fallen short. We are all imperfect humans. We have all made mistakes that we regret, but they don't have to continually haunt us. The fact that you regret a mistake at least suggests you have a conscience when most wouldn't care. There is still something good in you, and that's worth fighting for. But until you can accept there was a loss (whatever that might be), acknowledge that it caused pain, work through that and let it become the past, it will continue to rob you of the life and joy you deserve. In part of making a fresh start, we need to make peace with our pain so it can become our past, leaving our future free to explore and enjoy. (Of course, it's equally important to forgive others if we are to truly move forward - for more on this view this article here. Or for more on redemption, try this).
2. Outline What You Want to Achieve
Don't let another year pass without working towards your dreams. Don't let another year pass living a mediocre life that you resent and struggle to enjoy to the full. Find out what gives your life meaning and pursue it. Get support if you need to, but take responsibility for your life and make of it whatever you want. Don't let others tell you 'you can't'. Become intolerant of the things that hold you back and don't allow yourself to make excuses for not making changes. Don't wait until the 'right time' to be happy. Be happy now. Decide what you want to do and outline how you can make it happen, even if it means doing it afraid.
3. Think Positive
It's impossible to make changes in life without also changing the way we think. If you want to make a fresh start, be conscious of your self-talk. It's difficult to break free of the past and make the most of a clean slate if you're thinking things like 'this will never work', 'I've made and broken so many promises to myself already - this won't be any different', 'this year will just end up like all the others'. Be aware when you're starting to talk like this and 'bounce' any negative thoughts as quickly as possible. Don't allow them to take root in your mind. Think positive, even if it feels uncomfortable and ridiculous.
4. It's Not Too Late
There's no mess too big, no mistake too damaging, no dream too shattered that the pieces can't be picked up and a new start made. It may seem overwhelming at first, or even for a long time, but remember: everyone gets a second chance. It may even mean redefining yourself, in a healthy and balanced way. No one has to spend the rest of their life in the shadow of their (or anyone else's) sin. Make recompense, give yourself time, but don't give up. As the saying goes, 'where there's life, there's hope'. While ever you're still breathing, there's still a chance for you to change your life, to make a difference, and to start again. Don't waste more time worrying about the wasted years - grieve for them, but let them go and free your future. It's not too late.
Every new dawn is an opportunity to start again. No one deserves to live in the past, trapped by guilt, shame and frustration. Draw the line in the sand; break free of them all. You are the author of your story - at any point you can turn the page, start again, and change your destiny.