I despise starting over… A project, a blog post, a workout, a relationship, a career… To this date, I haven’t met anyone who absolutely LOVES the idea of scratching EVERYTHING they’ve worked on so far… to begin again.
Except for one small detail:
You never really “start over.”
I know… let’s go there…
Once upon a time, I started a film production company called “Clean Slate Films.” I liked the idea of a clean slate, a releasing and washing away of the past, not allowing anything negative to linger, and starting again… from scratch. However, the name of the prod. co. was a bit tongue and cheek. At that point, I was young enough to “begin again” and old enough to know that there is no such thing as a “clean slate” (meaning erase everything that happened before, pretend like it never happened, and start your life over). No, that rewind-in-time isn’t in existence yet…
What I did understand and what I’m starting to figure out as I get older is a new and VERY uncomfortable epiphany:
Unless you learn the lessons from the past, you are doomed to repeat them in the future.
Let me spin it in a more positive way:
Starting over allows you to begin again… this time, more wisely.
You get the benefit of all the experiences you had where things didn’t work. You get the cost of having used up those hours, days, months and years gaining those experiences… But you also get a second chance to do things differently… and here’s where the fun comes in.
So often, we’re afraid to “wipe the slate clean” or “go back to the drawing board” because we’re pissed about all the lost time:
“I spent 10 years in that relationship!”
“I wasted five years of my life at that job!”
“I gave him/her the best years of my life!”
I could go on and on but you get my drift…
We’re stuck because, on the one hand, starting again means we lost time and, on the other hand, starting again means we didn’t do it “perfectly” the first time… Oy vey! For us overachieving perfectionists, it’s a real WHAMMY to the ego!
But what happens when we look at this “starting over” idea differently?
Is it possible that going back to the drawing board has less to do with fear and more to do with courage?
Of course… it does!
So here are some AHA ways to get over the fear of wiping the slate clean, going back to the drawing board, and beginning again (this time more wisely):
AHA #1: You could’ve been there longer… Oh come on now… You feel me on this one, don’t you? Yes, maybe you wasted 10 years of your life in that awful relationship but guess what? You could’ve spent 30 years… Hmm… and lots of people do… #justsayin’
AHA #2: You needed to be where you were to learn the things you could ONLY learn from those people in those situations. Ever feel abandoned? Ever lose the respect or love of someone you always thought would be there? Ever lose out on a job or a gig or a client because of some underhanded move by somebody else? Totally sucks in the moment. But here’s the thing: You were meant to be there, in that moment, experiencing that level of suckiness, not because you have bad luck or because life is a real jerk but because, in that experience, you had to learn some things about what matters… and what doesn’t. Now… if you CHOOSE not to get the lesson in that experience, life will present you with another experience, opportunity and showdown to pass the final exam again but here’s the beauty of the school of life: you get to learn at your own pace. My advice: learn the lesson THIS time around…
AHA #3: The thing you keep falling to is EXACTLY the thing you need to rise above. I’m speaking to myself now… There have been experiences in my life where I have felt fear, doubt, and shame… and I have allowed those triplets to bring me to my knees to the point where I have bowed before my problems and surrendered before the battle ever started. Here’s what I’m learning this time around: success has everything to do with the fight and NOTHING to do with insecurity. In other words, if you keep coming across a certain battle of the mind and, every time, you quiver in fear before it and you allow it to conquer you, that battle will rage on until you find the strength necessary to rise above it. Battered, beaten, and tossed aside, you are FAR STRONGER than any fear, doubt, or bout with guilt, shame, or blame you will ever experience in your life. The moment you understand this, your fear will turn into courage for one reason and one reason only: you made it so…
AHA #4: You weren’t born to play it safe. I was watching an episode of “The Affair” last night on Showtime (Google it- great writing, amazing cast, I can’t not watch it) and the couple (for whom the husband cheated on his “perfect” wife) were in therapy and the wife said, “I chose you because you were safe…” That statement… can you imagine if your partner or spouse said that in a therapy session about you? “I didn’t choose you for love, lust, passion, or the absolute belief that we are soul mates… I chose you because you were the safe choice…” OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!! But, so often in life, we choose circumstances, people, situations, and professional endeavors for that exact reason. We don’t follow our passion, our purpose or our joy. We follow safety, somehow beleiving that “safe” will give us less trouble than anything else. Let me help you out: LIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We weren’t born to play it safe people. It’s not in our DNA. Our brains are programmed to run from dinosaurs and to slay tigers (PETA, please don’t call me- I’m talking pre-historic times here). We were not built to live in little 2,000 square foot boxes, driving little cars, and enjoying the grass grow behind cute white fences. Suburbia has us fooled people! As they say in New York City, it’s a concrete jungle! And we’re built for it so let’s stop acting like we’re not.
AHA #5: All the success you want is located in a place called “unchartered territory” and exploring unchartered territory requires that you release the old so you can embrace the new. Excellence doesn’t come in increments. It comes through exploration, investigation, and taking risks. Those things don’t happen overnight but they also don’t happen within comfort zones. You’ve got to be willing to throw out what’s not working and start again, even when you don’t know how. It’s a risk you take but there’s no way to have space for something new if the old, stinky stuff are still in the building. To make room, you have to let old things go.
AHA #6: You have to be willing to push yourself HARDER and for LONGER than anyone else is ever going to push you. The only way you’ll completely accept that you don’t have limits is by pushing EVERY single one of them to the brink. You don’t do that without hard work and perseverance. It doesn’t happen on a stroll down the block or during a vacation. I love meditation but part of the reason that meditation is so powerful is because it forces you to see your life, body, and mind in a way that defies your logic. In essence, every time you meditate, you are transcending another limit. But let’s not confuse zen with non-movement. You need zen to transcend but you also need to keep it moving!
So what am I saying?
If you get the sense that it’s time to go back to the drawing board…
on a project, on a business, on a career, on a relationship (Yes, I said it…),
STOP PROCRASTINATING and start over!
This time more wisely…
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
What is one thing that you have a feeling you need to go back to the drawing board on?
What step will you take this week to begin again?