Slow Sunday: Starting anew

Jan 01, 2017 · 6 min read

When you have spent lots of time, effort and money in building a certain kind of a life, career and business, starting over feels like the craziest thing to do. Did the time, effort and money you spent go in vain? Is it pointless to start over, especially if you aren't that young anymore? Does it seem like you failed, weren't good enough? Starting anew is scary and it can be lots of work. It may feel like a failure, instead of a beginning of something great, exciting and fulfilling.

Slow Sunday: Starting anew -- Mervi Emilia

Starting over isn't a failure. You haven't failed if you decide to ditch your career and go after another. You haven't failed if you realise the education you worked for isn't really for you. You haven't failed when you choose to take on a new path in your life. It's a new beginning.

The good news is, you aren't starting from a blank slate. Unless you are a newborn baby, you already have the life and work experience, possibly an education of some sort, knowledge and skills. You don't have to learn everything from scratch. Even if you decide to go for something that has (almost) nothing to do with what you did before, or start learning a whole new skill, you already have skills, knowledge and experience to build on.

Say, you are learning a new language. You already have an idea how languages work. While different languages may have almost alien pronunciation, structure and grammar than those you are used to use, they still eventually work similar ways. Languages, basically, are a structured way of communication. Trust me. My native language, Finnish, is something totally different than English, but I have still managed to learn the latter in a way that I can survive with it pretty well. As I begun to learn English I already was capable of speaking and writing and reading and understanding a language. And that gave me a basic knowledge of what I'm supposed to do with this other language. (I didn't think of it that way, as I was about 8 years old and just learning to learn.)

Obviously this also means your old baggage is likely to follow to your new life and work. Your existing skills, knowledge and experiences also have a stopping power. To learn new things, you may have to unlearn some old things. To get new clients you may have to dump old clients. Starting over often requires discarding something you have. Maybe you initiate the change by quitting a job or ending a relationship, closing your business or giving up a habit. You need to clear the schedule and make room for the new.

When you start over it affects the people around you. The most obvious case of affecting other people is when you have to severe friendships or other relationships. It's hard, it feels awful. However, other kinds of new beginnings also affect or at least feels like affecting other people. At least if you ask those other people. Your family, colleagues, clients and friends, having learned to expect certain things from you, will struggle and fight against your change. They hear you saying you have stopped making websites, but nevertheless ask if they can refer a client to you. They know you are divorcing, but expect reconciliation all the same. Change is scary for most people. It doesn't matter if the change directly has anything to do with them.

Partially because of this it is useful to announce your new start. When you decide to quit a job, let people around you know about it. When you scrap your business, notify everyone who might have interest in it. While there are those who will not understand right away or battle against it, many will get it and not ask silly or embarrassing questions or make awkward assumptions. Depending on who you need to notify and what sort of a new beginning it is, you can make a private announcement in person, or via email, phone or a carrier pigeon. For a more public declaration you can use your blog and/or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms.

Whichever method you choose to announce you are starting over, be prepared to have to repeat your message. Sometimes your original message is not understood. Other times it's chosen not to be understood. Your patience is required.

Sometimes the new start doesn't work out either. There's a chance that in the process you figure out that the old way wasn't that bad. Again, you are facing a feeling of failure and shame. What if you already made the announcement, public and all? Will everyone just laugh at you? That's a possibility. There is a good chance you have burned bridges and missed opportunities. That said, it's up to you how you handle and carry the situation. As with that restart before, you can admit your failure, announce your new old start and move on. Others will struggle, you will need to be patient.

You don't need to wait for certain times of life to start anew. Of course you may have a legal or moral obligation to finish a job or hold a situation for a while. And usually you can't just up and leave a country, and I don't recommend willy-nilly leaving your family or something like that. What I mean is, you don't need to wait for a new year to get going on with your reboot. And even if you have legal or other obligations, you can get started with your new beginning before the actual launch. You can start writing your masterpiece book right now, while you are still working at that office. You can build the base of your new business while still working in your old business. Starting over can happen gradually, it doesn't require an overnight overhaul.

Knowing when to start over isn't exact science. There are many different factors influencing your decision. There's a chance you don't immediately realise you need a new start. In some cases you can find the fulfilment from a simple adjustment, rather than making a full restart. Modifying the circumstances. Maybe you don't need a new start, but just to get rid of something old or change something small. Adjust your focus.

Eventually, if those simple adjustments don't work, a whole new beginning is due. The comprehension of this could hit you out of the blue. As well it's possible the awareness grows slowly. Sometimes you need (perhaps professional) help to see it. Sometimes it's clear without anyone else's involvement. I cannot, without knowing you and your situation, tell here and now if you need to reboot your situation. Eventually, even with outside help, you are the one who has to make the choice and initiate the new beginning.

There are several different ways to make a new start. For instance, if you decide to go for a different path with your blog, you can launch a whole new blog (or wipe your old one empty, which I don't recommend) or start posting new stuff on your old blog. Starting anew doesn't require a complete overhaul. New kinds of blog posts of a new subject can shock your current audience. Then again, you abandoning your old blog and moving to a whole new one is likely to shock them too. Don't worry too much about it. People a resilient. They will adjust. Those who can't, aren't worth your worrying anyways.

In order to make the new start feel less frightening you must approach it with a certain attitude. It's not a failure, it's an opportunity. It's not sad, it's exciting. Without the right attitude you may very well keep on doing what you have been doing. Curiosity and passion help with surviving change.

Adjust, announce, and move on.

Slow Sunday is a new series about slowing down, dealing with depression and anxiety, soothing your stress, relaxing, and getting over yourself. Do let me know if you have a specific subject you'd like me to write about. And please, share your personal thoughts and feelings about the subject in the comment area of the article.

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