The Secrets to Starting Over

Every so often, life (or at least my life) calls for a refurbishment. I feel the need at those instances to shake out rugs, reorganize drawers, put up new paintings, and fix any squeaky or rusty parts of my brain and/or belongings. Such times usually emerge in conjunction with a new job, breakup, relocation, or other large or small life event. The following is a list of tactics I like to use whenever I crave change.


1. Make lots of lists.
See? I’m already following my own advice. Make a list of the things you would like to accomplish in the next few months, a list of the things you would do if money/time were not an issue, a list of the traits you like about yourself and the traits you would change about yourself, of books you’ve always wanted to read, movies you’ve wanted to watch, and places you’ve always wanted to visit.

2. Tackle one item (or part of one item) from one of those lists per day. If applying for grad school is on your list of things to accomplish, go sign up for the GRE’s and start researching schools. Borrow one of the books on your to read list from the library or watch one of the movies on your movie list. Just remember that while it’s easy to get sucked into a book, movie, or TV show and pretend it is real life, it is important to stay totally present within your own life.

3. Plan a trip. Make arrangements to visit a friend or just pick a time to take a road trip, ideally to somewhere you’ve never been before. If lack of paid time off is an issue, go somewhere close by, and if time is an obstacle you can always do what I do and travel vicariously through books. For instance, the last time I was craving an across-the-country road trip, I decided to re-read On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and just recently I started Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig.

4. Sign up for a class you’ve always wanted to take. I find that life’s transitional periods are when I feel the most creative. So, sign up for a painting class if you haven’t painted since college and want to get back into it, a writing class, a foreign language class, or anything else that interests you.

5. Put together a playlist of new music. It’s difficult to start a new phase of your life when your itunes library is filled with songs that contain old and sometimes exhausted memories. Check out a website like last.fm or Spotify. You are bound to discover new artists that you’ve never heard of, or old artists with new albums, so download some of their songs and make yourself a play list for the new season.

6. Get active. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard from all corners of the internet that exercise is the best way to feel your best, and that’s because it’s true. Get out for a walk, run, or bicycle ride outside (or at the gym), and motivate yourself with some of your new music. If you’re convinced that you lack the drive, get an exercise buddy or join a fitness class.

7. Give yourself a makeover. You most likely feel different, so why not give yourself a new look to match. A couple years ago I cut my hair really short for the first time and it made me feel and act like a new, more confident person. Also, the feedback from friends and family was a welcome boost.

8. Be present. The most important part of change is the act of experiencing it. Try not to dwell on where you were or where you’re going, but rather enjoy the process of getting from here to there. Also, make sure to stay aware of the world around you. If you don’t already, read the news throughout the day and tune into blogs/podcasts/radio shows in the area(s) of your interest.

If you got this far, it probably means that you’re in a place similar to me, so go out there and become the new you: You 2.0. And if you discover any tactics that must be added to the list, let me know.

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