Maybe you’ve just gotten out of a tumultuous, long-term relationship.
You’ve changed yourself so much trying to be your ex’s perfect partner that you don’t know who you are anymore.
Now, you want to be ‘you’ again.
Maybe you’re done with pain and have decided to end a toxic situation you’re in. You’re packing up, leaving everything you know behind and moving to a new place to rebuild your life.
You have no friends, no family, no job and no clue where to start — only a blurry, watercolour picture in your mind of who you want to be.
Or maybe you’ve lived your entire life trying to make everyone else happy, and now you’re sick and tired of giving your power away.
You’ve woken up.
You’re ready to change directions and live a life that’s all yours…on your own terms.
It’s time to begin again.
IT’S OK TO START OVER.
If anyone tells you that you’re meant to go from the crib to the running track, breeze through college, get your dream job, score the perfect partner and live happily ever after all in one fell swoop, they’re lying…and seriously delusional.
The reality is that life is anything but a straight line, and is made up of seasons — some good, some mundane, and some so bad that you’ll need plenty of time to recover from the trauma of living through it.
And it won’t care how young or old you are.
You will lose a parent.
You might discover that your partner’s been cheating on you.
You’ll lose friends.
You might suffer a terrible injury or illness.
Your may have to watch your career come to a standstill or even fall apart.
These things can (and do) happen to anyone, and they might happen to you too.
Life’s not one big Hallmark movie where everything’s pretty, shiny and happy all the time: Shitty things happen to good people, relationships break up all the time, anxiety and depression can tighten their grip, and addictions have the power to break the strongest among us.
But once you’ve made it through the worst and the dust settles, it’s time to start over.
It’s OK to start over — it’s a natural part of evolving into a smarter, better and stronger version of yourself, and no one should ever make you feel bad for wanting (and needing) to.
At your lowest point, you may think that your life is ruined and there’s no way out.
But listen to me: It WILL pass. There’s always a way forward. You just have to look for it. You can let the circumstances you’re in ruin you, or you can allow it to improve you.
HOW TO START OVER AND REBUILD YOUR LIFE FROM SCRATCH
The process of rebuilding your life from the ground up won’t be easy, but having a plan will greatly increase your chances of carving out the life you want, successfully.
Here are my tried-and-tested steps to start with:
1. Start with cleaning up the space you live in.
To build something good, you’ll need good daily habits.
But to turn a new, unfamiliar (and therefore uncomfortable and ‘quit-able’ ) action into a daily habit, you’ll need to do everything you can to reduce the odds that you’ll give up, particularly when you hit a speed bump.
One of the best ways to do this is to set up your environment for your success.
This means clearing the space where you spend the most time in of clutter, trash and chaos.
The result: A calmer, clearer and focused mind that’ll help you move forward with your plan and sticking to it.
2. Make peace with reality and work with, not against it.
We often get stuck in life because we’re either unable or unwilling to accept our reality as it is. Instead, we stubbornly continue to indulge in fantasy, specifically, how we wish things were.
This is where you’ll need to get real with yourself, no matter how unpleasant it is.
Ask yourself: What’s your situation now, and how can you work with what is, not what you wish it was?
3. Reflect on what and where you went wrong.
No one starts out planning to fail or creating a disaster.
But somehow, we end up taking one or several wrong steps along the way, and find ourselves on a painful path we never expected to be in.
Whether these missteps were driven by ego, a lack of awareness, miscalculation, denial or simply carelessness, you owe it to yourself to be honest with the captain of your ship: You.
It’s only once you’ve taken the time to reflect and figure out what went wrong and where things started to fall apart that you can start putting together a new plan with your success-driving strategy baked in.
This is the plan that’ll help you make the progress you’ve wanted all along.
4. Revisit your goals and values.
Before you take one step forward on your new path, you’ll need to make sure your foundation is solid.
You may have an idea of where you’d like to go: Run it through a stress-test:
Does your idea align with your values?
What are your values anyway?
What will you do if someone close to you disagrees or tries to tear it down?
What will happen if you find yourself feeling tempted to stray away from it?
Put your ideas, values and stress-test answers down on paper so you can see them all in one place and let them sink in.
5. Decide what you want to do next.
Now that you’ve some ideas for possible paths you could take that fall in line with your values, it’s time to decide: Which one will you choose?
‘Decision’ comes from the Latin word decisio, which literally means “to cut off”.
But while picking one path means cutting yourself off from all others, it doesn’t mean that you can’t course-correct later on by choosing a different one if things don’t work out or feel right.
6. Work up the courage to do it.
It’s OK to feel terrified about heading into new, unchartered territory.
It’d be weird if you didn’t.
But know that this is the point where you start putting one foot in front of the other regardless of how you feel, or chicken out and retreat into your cave.
It’s time to get moving despite the paralysing fear and soul-crushing doubt that are making your feet and heart feel like lead.
7. Identify the obstacles standing in your way.
Being consistent with your new habits will give you the results you’re after and keep you inspired to keep going.
That is, until you hit a wall. Here, you’ll get stuck. Again.
It happens, and it will happen. Your body will adapt to your new workout program. Your new daily routine will eventually feeling mundane and boring, causing your motivation to take a dip. Or maybe you’ll experience a huge setback, leaving you feeling down and confused.
This is when you’ll need to diagnose the problem, regroup and bring out your ‘Life Makeover First-Aid kit’ to fix it.
Your priority? Figure out how to work your way around this thing that’s standing in your way so you can keep moving forward on your new path.
8. Design a plan to eliminate these obstacles.
Now that you know what’s blocking your progress, your next step will be to make another crucial decision: What can you do to get this obstacle out of your way?
It could mean adding or subtracting something (or someone) from your life.
It could mean making the tiniest tweak to your diet.
It could mean switching jobs, yet again.
It could mean changing your thoughts or how you talk to yourself.
Hey, I didn’t say it’d be easy, but I can tell you this: You’ll be glad you did it.
9. Overcome your fear of being wrong.
So you’ve taken a couple of wrong turns and ended up getting burned.
Now, you’re afraid to make mistakes, and have developed the habit of doubting yourself, over-analysing every move you’re thinking of making, and hesitating mid-step.
Here’s something you need to know: The mistakes are never going to stop coming. If anything, they’re only going to creep up on you more frequently, get more challenging and take just as much time (or more) to recover from.
With or without the fear, and whether or not you give in to it, you will make more mistakes.
So wouldn’t you rather go for what you want despite the possibility of being wrong?
10. Get a mentor.
When you’re trying to rebuild a new foundation for your life — and preferably a rock-solid one — you’ll need some help in the form of guidance from a mentor who’s done it before.
This person could be someone who’s achieved a goal you’ve set your sights on, has reinvented themselves successfully or just has the qualities that you’re working towards building within yourself.
And just in case you’re wondering: No, they don’t have to be someone you know.
What matters is that watching them do what they do in the world inspires you to do more, and to do better every single day, even when setbacks rear their ugly head.
Now that you know what steps to take to rebuild your life, what will you do next?
RESOURCES YOU MIGHT FIND HELPFUL
(*(Disclosure: These suggestions contain affiliate links, which means that I’ll earn a small commission if you decide to buy by clicking on these links. Buying won’t cost you anything extra, but it’ll allow this blog to earn money―thank you if use them! You can read my full affiliate disclosure here.)
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way To Banish Clutter Forever by Marie Kondo Starting over means starting with a clean slate — not the easiest thing to do if your living (or even work) space is cluttered, disorganised and drowning in stuff. This is my bible as far as tidying up my space and keeping it that way goes.
The Good Morning Guide If your mornings are typically rushed, chaotic and stressful, I made this guide to help you start your day calm, sane and strong.
Lose 4 Pounds in 4 Weeks Without Going On A Diet Struggling with constant overeating and uncontrolled weight gain? In this email course, I show you how to get started with the exact steps I took to stop feeling like a slave to the food around me, lose over 22 pounds of fat and keep them off for almost a decade now.
Tribe Of Mentors: Short Life Advice From The Best In The World by Timothy Ferriss Nothing beats having a mentor in your life who can personally guide you from day one. But not everyone does, and if (like me), you don’t, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from the best virtually or through books. Take what you need from the likes of Ray Dalio (whose Principles inspired this post), Ben Stiller, Bear Grylls and more in this varied but comprehensive compilation of bite-sized advice on life, work and purpose from some of the best minds in the world.
Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill This classic is so much more than what its title implies — it’s also a guide to taking control of the biggest driver behind everything you do and the reality you create for yourself: Your mind.
Project 333 by Courtney Carver Go to your wardrobe, open it and take a good look inside. If it’s busting at the seams, yet you find yourself thinking: “I have nothing to wear”, you need to take this fashion challenge, which shows you how to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.
The Minimalism Game by The Minimalists Got too much stuff everywhere in your home? Start trimming the excess by taking this 30-day clutter-elimination challenge. I’ve been revisiting this challenge once a year and it has been instrumental in helping keep my living space just the way I like it: Tidy and calming.
The Filofax Personal Organiser I’ve been using my trusty, old Filofax to organise my life for the past 18 years and don’t see myself being tempted to replace it with a digital one any time soon — there’s something really comforting about putting my to-dos and ideas down on paper. When I’m not at home, my hardcover Moleskin pocket journal goes everywhere I do (well, almost).