The sense of a fresh start can be incredibly motivating and invigorating. It’s important to remember, though, that fresh starts are fake.
What that means is that a fresh start is really a figment of your imagination. As such, it can be created at any time, and if it feels real on an emotional level, then it is real in fact. Just as valid a psychological spur as any other.
In some ways, I have a legit fresh start right now. I’m still not over the novelty of narrowly surviving a deadly, lingering illness. Hey! I can stand up on my first or second try! Watch this, I can roll over without the room spinning!
In other ways, everything else in my life is exactly the same.
Same credit history
Same neighbors insisting on approaching and speaking to me with no masks on
This is the trick: finding the sparkling newness in the midst of the stale, old, boring, annoying, and/or disappointing.
(Not to say that every consistency is disappointing or boring! Just that some of them can be).
I’ve used my physical fresh start to give me a push in physical areas of my life, such as starting to work out again and changing bedtimes. There is a ripple effect whenever a keystone habit is fitted into a routine, so that everything else adjusts around it - which of course can be good, bad, or neutral.
The hardest thing to wrap your mind around, when it comes to habit changes, is that they all fit into specific time slots. Doing one thing displaces another thing. A minute spent in one way cancels spending it in a different way.
This was a bit more obvious when the slow process of recovering from COVID started to feel like non-time, like I would feel just as bad forever and always, that there was no time when I was not ill and that everything would simply go on like this, far into the afterlife.
Every minute that I lounged around being ill was a minute I was not visiting my family, training for an ultramarathon, reorganizing my closet, going to grad school, folding laundry, or anything else at all.
This has actually been great, because even the tiniest little things, like fixing my own bowl of instant oatmeal or unloading the dishwasher, still feel that little bit magical.
‘Magical’ is precisely what we seek when we’re looking for that fresh start feeling. The trouble comes when we believe that magic comes from somewhere outside, rather than realizing that we generate it inside ourselves. It is our act of seizing initiative and creating something out of nothing that makes magic happen. All we have to do to make a fresh start is to snap our fingers... or not even that.
We decide it.
I decided, even in the depths of my illness, that I wanted to get a new job. I kinda meant ‘someday’ but it all happened very quickly. My dream job suddenly opened up when the previous person got a promotion and left the department. They were looking to fill it quickly, and the window for applying was closing at the end of the week. I was far too ill to do it myself, but previous efforts had left me well enough organized that my husband was able to put my application together for me.
These are important factors to notice.
Two straightforward, common, ordinary things happened in my life. I got over a condition that literally millions of other people have had, and I got a new job at a time when dozens of people are being hired by my organization. There is nothing rare or special about either of those things.
Statistically, at any rate!
The events of my personal life are special and rare to me because this is the only life I have.
Likewise, the events of your life should feel magical and fascinating to you, because what else are you going to think about?
You don’t need a change in external events before you create the sensation of a fresh start. You can do it any time you like. Or, you can take advantage of world events such as the pandemic, or the rising tide of justice, and decide that THE TIME IS NOW to make major changes.
The time is always now. That’s another reason that fresh starts are fake, because every minute is a fresh new minute anyway, exactly the same as the last one.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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