How to Start Fresh (Again) After Letting Yourself Down
January 4, 2023 9:00 AM EST | 8 min read
It’s that time of year again when we are all contemplating how to make a fresh start—just like we have done countless times before, only to let ourselves down.
How often have you resolved to stick to a routine, a diet, or some other new goal?
Then maybe you fell into old habits, or something happened, and your plans fell by the wayside.
Now, you have told yourself you failed before and wonder if it is even worth trying again.
Maybe you have tried several times but didn’t achieve your desired goal.
It can discourage us to start fresh again when we think you are just going to fail like every time before.
Don’t let the fact that you haven’t achieved your goal in the past be why you don’t try now.
You can do several things to start fresh despite letting yourself down in the past.
They aren’t impossible tasks but require a change in perspective and a little work.
You have something now that you didn’t have before your last attempt at a fresh start
You first need to realize that every time you try to make a change and “fail,” you are building a wealth of information.
It means you have discovered many ways that a diet doesn’t work.
Your knowledge bank is full of ways you have self-sabotaged, and now you know your triggers.
No one knows you better than you do!
You just have to do some introspection and be honest with yourself to get the most value out of this information.
It will involve asking yourself some tough questions, but you can do it!
Let’s think about that diet again.
Why didn’t it work, and what can you do differently if you start fresh?
Maybe you were trying to do Keto but realized that you hated half the food you were allowed to eat.
You tried to do it anyway, but after a few weeks, you couldn’t eat meat and avocados anymore.
So, you just went back to the way things were.
You didn’t fail at your diet.
You just learned that Keto is not for you!
Now, let’s say you have tried a few different things like Keto, Paleo, Clean Eating, Low Carb, and whatever else it is people are doing.
You don’t dislike the food, but you don’t have time to cook everything.
How can you fix this?
Can you hire someone to meal prep for you?
Or use a weekly meal prep service?
Can you rearrange your schedule to better accommodate your cooking needs?
How about other people in your house—can they take some things off your plate?
Or maybe they can do the cooking?
There is a solution somewhere.
It might just be a little outside the box!
Each time you try, you gain a new piece of the puzzle that puts you one step closer to seeing the whole picture!
Sometimes you have to delve deeper to start fresh
At some point, delve deeper into why your past attempts didn’t work out as you hoped.
Have you already gone through all the practical and fixable things that went wrong?
Did you make adjustments, and it still didn’t work?
Now, it’s time to get real and ask the hard questions.
What are your motives for trying to reach your goal?
Do you really want it, or are you chasing it because you think you should?
Is there an underlying fear holding you back if it is something you want?
For example, I have tried to write a book about my life many times.
It is something I want to do, but I am afraid.
I am afraid that people won’t like it.
Then I think of how upset some people will be to see themselves on paper in black and white… the way I saw them.
I know I could find the time to write a chapter a day.
Heck, if I didn’t have time for a whole chapter, it would be a piece of cake to just write 200 words daily on the story.
Eventually, it would get done.
However, I am just not ready.
Yet every story I tell about my childhood and experience with my mom being in witness protection moves me one step closer.
I don’t think I am failing.
I have just learned that this moment may not be the right moment for that goal.
Everything I do between now and the day I write my book is the foundation.
You will also enjoy our article on reinvent yourself.
Make the most of looking inward before you try again
All this questioning and introspection is to rebuild confidence in yourself.
After setting a goal and not reaching it, you might feel you have let yourself down.
You didn’t; you were just figuring out all the information and building your foundation.
However, if you can’t see that right now, it is time to cut yourself some slack and boost your confidence!
The first thing to remember is that you deserve compassion too.
What would you say to your best friend or a colleague in the same position?
Sure, you would want to be real with them, but you would also want to make them feel better.
I can almost guarantee you wouldn’t tell your friend to give up and accept that they are a loser.
Whatever you would say to them is what you should say to yourself.
Next, learn to look at the information you have learned from the view of an objective observer.
This means you don’t place any judgment.
Looking back at the diet example, we might say something like this:
You couldn’t just eat the food you knew would be healthy for you because you have no willpower.
That is an example of how we apply judgment to observations.
An objective observer would say: You don’t like red meat and avocados.
Being objective helps you figure out what you could have done differently and gives you information to use for your fresh start.
Now, this last step might seem counterintuitive, but it’s not, I promise!
Allow your emotions to surface (emotions differ from judgment).
We must acknowledge our feelings before we can process them and move on.
Harboring strong emotions like fear, guilt, shame, or anger will keep you stuck.
If you feel guilt and shame that you didn’t stick with something, then acknowledge it.
Now don’t unpack a bag and move in here with these feelings.
Honoring how you feel enables you to release those emotions to learn and move on.
Try taking action
Take some time to prepare to begin again.
You have perused your internal information library and learned what went wrong before.
Your confidence level is restored, and you are ready to try again.
That is awesome—now you just need a plan for your fresh start.
Write it down, talk about it with someone who has been there before, and get the things you need beforehand.
Don’t forget to celebrate the victories and milestones along the way.
Maybe your goal was to get a degree.
Now you are tired and overwhelmed and working on your 7th class, with another 13 to go.
How often have you told someone: “I have only finished 7 classes.”
Each one you finish is brick in the wall.
Treat yourself to a nice dinner after every class ends, or go celebrate with a friend.
Then the next time someone asks how school is going, tell them: “I have already finished 7 classes, which puts me just a few classes from the halfway mark!”
It is all in your words and how you view each success.
Be resilient, and remember you have gotten back up before
Remember when you rose from the ashes before, even though it felt like you shouldn’t try again?
Every time you fail or disappoint yourself, it strengthens you.
Resiliency teaches you how to flex that strength and put it to good use next time.
If you don’t know if you have another next time in you, just recall those times in your past when your confidence soared.
What were you doing?
How did your confidence get so high?
How did it make you feel?
Write everything you experienced, remembering all the details and nuances of these times in your life.
Take a deep breath.
Remember why you want this and how you want to feel.
Pick yourself up and realize that the only way we ever really let ourselves down is the day we give up on our hopes and dreams.
This doesn’t mean your dream won’t evolve and change and look different from what you once thought.
It means you go with the flow, keep learning, and keep evolving into the person you want to be.
Let us know your thoughts on new beginnings in the comment section below.
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