How was 2012 for you? Was it your best year ever, or are you glad you’re now in a new year and you have the chance, once again, to start over.
We live in turbulent times, and many of us have experienced big changes in our lives. There are those who were caught in the downslide of the housing market and wound up losing their homes. There are those who lost their jobs or whose finances bottomed out and they had to go through bankruptcy. There are those who lost absolutely everything in Hurricane Sandy, or in forest fires, or floods. And those who lost the most precious thing of all—a loved one—whether through a breakup, divorce or death.
It’s not only loss that brings about the necessity of starting over. There are also the times—especially around New Year’s—when we make resolutions that THIS YEAR I’m going to start exercising, eat right, lose weight, stop smoking, stop drinking, learn how to tango, visit Machu Picchu, take a pottery class,—whatever. There’s always something about ourselves we want to change, something we want to learn, some reason for starting out fresh.
Starting over is not the same as picking yourself up off the floor after some sort of failure—whether it was losing your job or losing your house or losing your partner. Starting over is a new frame of mind, a clean start, a new beginning. It’s a clean slate, which keeps you from wasting time being too hard on yourself or wallowing in guilt.
Endings aren’t necessarily bad. That job you lost? Maybe you really didn’t like it much anyway. It’s time to look at your talents and skills and passions. Maybe it’s time to “follow your bliss” and finally find or create a job that makes you feel good about yourself. Remember, your future is not governed by your past. No matter what’s happened in your life, you can make things a little better for yourself and for those around you, too.
If you are still living in the chaos of either man-made or natural disasters, starting over is not a choice. A great quality to have in those circumstances is the ability to accept support from others—financial, emotional, physical. Starting over can seem scary, but try to play down your fears and get excited about new possibilities.
Here are a few tips:
- After a divorce or a breakup—try not to dwell on what happened. There is more to life than one person. Distract yourself; maybe now’s the time to go on that safari in Africa, or take that rafting trip down the Colorado River. Shake yourself out of your usual comfort zone. And try to understand what went wrong. Work with a therapist or relationship expert so next time you won’t make the same mistakes. Don’t rush to sign up on a matchmaking site. Learn to be with yourself first.
- After the death of a loved one—allow yourself to mourn. Cry as much as you need to. It helps to have a shoulder to cry on. Doing some sort of ritual, whether it’s a public funeral or a private ceremony, puts you on the path to healing. Journaling may help you to gain acceptance of your loss. Write about what the person meant to you, how you feel, and what you think your life will be like a year or so from now. Most of all, don’t isolate yourself. While the emotional pain over the death will diminish with time, don’t expect it to go away. Rely on friends and family for support.
- After losing or quitting a job—figure out what you want from your next job. What are you goals, and how will you achieve them? Is it time to switch careers? Experts say that the average person makes up to seven career changes during their work life. If money weren’t an issue, what would your heart want to do? Now network like crazy. Many jobs don’t show up on Monster.com or Craigslist. Develop your elevator pitch—that 2-minute spiel that gets someone excited about you and your abilities. You never know when you’ll run into the person can who hook you up with the job of your dreams.
- Any time at all—do something that will help others. No matter how hard you’ve been hit by life circumstances, finding a way to be of service to others always helps you!