During an interview with The Off Camera Show, esteemed and critically acclaimed actor and writer Ethan Hawke said something so profound, that it changed the way I looked at life in general and how I approached my own life.
He said and I quote, “It’s a weird thing to give up but the idea that you can start again tomorrow is valuable to all of us. You know? I can be better tomorrow.”
And yet, as I sat at my desk, sipping my third cup of coffee for the day trying to shake off the feeling of misery and self-loathe, I wondered to myself about the exact moment I stopped trying to be better.
At what point in my life did I decide to let the past destroy my desire to be better tomorrow?
I don’t remember, not even till this day.
What I do remember is how I worked my ass off for many years to get through college and earn myself a degree in law. I remember writing multiple non-fiction books despite a lack of resources and knowledge on being an author. I remember losing over 40 pounds in a year. I remember completing every grueling at home workout programs like Insanity and P90X. I remember overcoming a crippling autoimmune disease amidst all of these accomplishments. I remember building a blog that reached millions of people with my sibling.
I’m not saying any of this to brag.
I just want to emphasize that my life wasn’t always like this.
There was a time in my early 20’s that I was exploding with enthusiasm and dedication.
My mind was set on achieving all of my goals, irrespective of what obstacles stood in front of me or the blatant lack of natural talent in my arsenal.
And I did!
But at a certain point in my life, I stopped trying.
I let complacency and doubt creep into my mind and heart even without life throwing a massive curveball my way.
I don’t think it’s just any big cascading event that topples us into a state of defeat.
It is the silent desperation of living a life you are not content with that eats a person up from the inside out.
It’s having to work your life away at a job you hate just to pay the bills that builds stress and unhappiness.
The failure of a marriage or relationship chips away at your self-confidence or the inability to find a partner or purpose in your life that infects your soul.
It’s often the most common things in life that drive us to insanity.
We see it happening all around us.
And despite having the commitment to never end up being just like everyone else, we end up just like everyone else.
That’s what happened to me.
I’m not ashamed to admit defeat.
But, for a while, I gave up.
And that is something I am ashamed of doing.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. After months of trying to muster up the courage to start over in life, I opened my mind and heart up to change.
And from that moment onward, I made a firm decision to start over in life and transform myself from a loser into a winner.
I don’t have any particular skill that I am proud to show off. I’m not naturally gifted at anything. Talent isn’t part of my genes.
But, what I do possess is the ability to work hard.
And that, in my honest opinion, is something everyone in the world is capable of doing.
What I told myself in that moment is that the only difference right now between me and the people like me who are still stuck and continue to be stuck in life is that I am willing to change.
So, if you’re reading this and you feel like you want to start over in life but don’t know where to start, perhaps this step by step plan I used to transform my life could prove to be useful to you.
1. Make A List Of All The Things That Suck In Your Life And What You’d Like To Change
Imagine living the life of your dreams, what do you see?
For me, it’s never having to worry about paying my bills, traveling at least once a year, owning my own house, in a committed loving relationship and being extremely fit.
When I pictured my dream life, I pulled out a page and summarized the top 3 to 5 things I would need for this dream life.
Money, control over my time, a social life and good health.
Okay, so now that I figured out what I need to live my dream life, I began to make a list of things I could change in my life to have money, time, dating and good health.
In my case, this was what I came up with:
- Having my own business or freelance career could provide me with the money and time to strike off more than 3 items on my dream life picture.
- To be in a committed loving relationship, I would need to first know the kind of woman I’m looking to attract and I’d need to meet new people.
- To be healthy, I would need to have access to an exercise plan around my current circumstances and to eat better.
Doing this activity provided me with an incredibly clear image and motivation for why and how I want to start over in life.
Also, it gives you the ability to compare your current lifestyle to the one you are looking to create.
Doing so allows you to adjust and change your current lifestyle in a way that pushes you closer to living a better life.
2. Make A List Of All Your Negative Habits You Need To Drop And A List Of All The Positive Habits You Need To Develop
Apparently, it takes anywhere between 45 – 90 days to break a bad habit completely. Three months feels like a long time, right?
But, what I did during this time was remind myself of one extremely important fact of life.
The time will pass anyway.
Three months from now I can be free of my bad habits or I can be exactly where I am in life right now.
The only thing I have control over is how I choose to spend the time.
Every single time when withdrawal, boredom or doubt bounced around my head and tempted me to fall back into old habits, I reminded myself that by the time 90 days are up, I can be celebrated my progress or hating myself for being weak and throwing away the progress I could have made.
3. Set Achievable And Specific Goals
During the early phases of making a change in life, there’s an unavoidable obstacle that stands in front of a person.
It’s this romanticized vision of the future that creates a sense of excitement and victory for what lies ahead.
Problem is, the road to that life you are about to chase is not designed to be easy.
Navigating your way through the obstacles and hard work in front of you requires clarity on what your objectives are.
Which is why it is critical to draw up a list of very specific goals to achieve.
Break your goals down into the categories you’ve highlighted earlier during the first step of this guide.
In the case of making money, you have two options which are to find a traditional career or to start your own business.
Those are broad goals that provide you with more questions rather than answers.
What you need to do is be extremely specific.
If you opt to start a business, what type of business are you going to start?
What tools and supplies do you need? Where can you operate this business from?
Making a list of questions for every broad goal is the perfect way to set achievable specific goals because the answer to these questions are often exactly what you need to do.
Simple enough, right?
When you’ve successfully written down a list of all your specific goals, set a deadline for them.
This simple act is what will encourage you to get started and take action. Without action, results and change are impossible.
From my own experience, deadlines create a sense of urgency inside of me. Sometimes, urgency is all you need as a wake-up call.
Write down your goals and look at it daily.
4. Start From Zero
The wonderful thing about starting over in life is that you get to discard all your failures up until now.
If anything, starting over affords you the right to look at your failures as lessons that equip you with experience to do better now.
When approaching each and every one of your goals, do so with the mindset of starting from zero.
But don’t just stop there, measure your progress from zero.
Watch yourself accumulate results over time.
This accumulation of results from the actions you take towards achieving all your goals will eventually manifest in ways you won’t even expect.
You’ll feel different and you’ll perform better with each passing day.
That’s the beauty of starting afresh.
You are unburdened by the weight of the past. You are completely free to grow into the best version of yourself yet.
Better yet, you can suck at every single thing in your life right now and it’s okay because that’s what you expect from someone starting at zero.
As you work your way up the ladder, the confidence that comes along with growth and progress is earned.
Allow it to consume you and fuel the fire within you.
5. Develop A Brand New Routine For Yourself That Encourages Productivity And Consistency
Believe it or not, overnight success stories are usually the result of months, if not years, of consistent hard work.
When reading the slight edge, I remember feeling amazed at the explanation of ‘Invisible Results‘ by the author.
Essentially, when you take action on something, especially habits, the results are often invisible at first.
As time goes on, those small invisible results start to accumulate.
At a certain point during the cumulative effect, the results become visible.
Most people give up because the results of their effort are often invisible.
It’s usually the people who stick to a routine religiously who end up transforming those invisible results into something visible.
At that point, you’d have built new habits and established a routine of actions in your life that promotes growth, productivity, success and positivity.
Take a moment to reflect on your life and ask yourself if you’ve ever stuck to something even when your effort yielded no visible results at first.
If you didn’t, this is how you break out of a quitting cycle.
You stick around even when the results are nowhere to be seen.
When turning your life around, consider time to be your best friend.
You have around 16 waking hours to do meaningful work. How you choose to spend that time can either work for you or against you.
Having a routine based on your specific goals is a wonderful way of staying consistent and dedicated.
Making decisions and plans off the cuff never work out, especially when you have a long road of goals ahead of you.
6. Say No To Everything And Everyone That Is Toxic For You
I don’t think I even need to explain to you what it’s like to have someone in your life who is just toxic.
It’s especially difficult to accept this when the person in question is someone you care about but the reality of the situation almost always comes to light.
Toxic people will use you up and leave you feeling empty in many ways.
I like to think that the only thing standing between my happiness and toxic people is my ability to simply say NO.
Say no to the people or things in your life that add nothing but pain, suffering, insecurity and doubt.
You deserve better.
And it’s okay to walk away from something or someone that doesn’t have your best interest at heart.
What you actually deserve are people who love you truly.
People who want to see you succeed and will support you in the crazy epic journey you embark on.
These good people are the ones who will give their love, support, advice and sincerity without ulterior motives.
Say Yes to them because we are often molded to emulate the people we spend most of our time with.
You get to decide who deserves a space of significance in your circle. Let it be Good people.
Take a step back from any situation that places you in a peculiar position and genuinely ask yourself whether this person or thing serves your grander vision or not? Do they infect your life with their poisonous thoughts and actions or do they add good to it?
Depending on your answer, you MUST take action as if your life depends on it because your life actually depends on it.
And as hard as this may sound, you ought to really think about whether you have been toxic to someone in your life.
If so, now’s the time to change.
Choose to be better!
7. Work Like Your Life Depends On It
At the end of the day, your life does depend on how you show up each and every day.
As I get older, I start to realize the importance of work.
When we’re working hard, the idea of not having to exert so much energy and effort seems like such an amazing fantasy.
The grass looks greener on the other side.
But, when you find yourself doing nothing and lazing around all the time, it’s the worst feeling in the world.
Because you have nothing to show for it.
Doing nothing creates nothing.
That’s the reality of the situation. Furthermore, our bodies are designed in such a way that if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Movement is essential to a healthy existence.
You have to keep moving forward in life because when you stop for too long, thoughts and feelings of nostalgia manifest.
The problem with being nostalgic for too long is that it causes you to look at the past for an unhealthy period of time.
Look at the past for too long and you’ll get stuck back there.
The only movement that matters is forward.
And the most contributing action towards moving forward happens to be hard work.
There’s this notion out there that working hard isn’t essential, you need to work smart. That’s incorrect. That’s bullshit.
Working harder causes you to work smarter.
You don’t get better at an activity by working the fewest hours. Don’t be fooled into this notion that smart work eradicates the need for hard work.
That is simply false.
Hard work is crucial for the accumulation of results, character traits that are essential for success and it is undeniable that moving forward in life is only truly possible through hard work.
You will never appreciate anything as much as you will appreciate the things you’ve had to work your ass off for.
That’s a fact.
8. Be Prepared To Face Fear
Chances are that when you start over in life, you’re going to be staring into the face of fear at every corner.
It’s going to be scary and you’re going to question whether this is something you can or want to do.
When that voice of doubt and fear start screaming in your head, shut it off.
Tell it to get the hell out of here because irrespective of what happens, you’re going to TRY.
The only thing fear wants to achieve is to stop you from trying.
If you can get around that fear and still make an attempt, even if you fail, it’s nowhere near to being as bad as your brain tried to trick you into believing.
In fact, that same failure often comes with a valuable lesson.
Take that lesson into consideration and keep trying to succeed and you will transform yourself into someone who possesses amazing mental fortitude.
I want you to remember this acronym for the word FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real.
9. Embrace The Boredom
At first, the excitement and energy of starting over in life will fuel your days.
It will feel easy and effortless to do everything on this list.
The problem begins to arise when normalcy and routine sets in.
I want to be brutally honest with you about something – you will get bored.
Waking up to do the same hard work every single day can become boring.
Mastering a skill takes thousands of hours of hard work. Those hours can become boring.
Boredom is not a signal for you to give up or be disinterested.
Boredom is a sign of growth. It means you have reached a point of normalcy. You are able to handle your current workload.
Don’t give up, make things harder and more challenging.
It sounds crazy but this is what the Greats do to become successful. They constantly challenge themselves but they never run away from boring tasks.
I was watching the show Billions recently and Bobby Axelrod (billionaire) said something interesting to his work force during a crisis.
“The greats never sacrifice the important for the urgent.”
Life will get crazy at times and your schedule may turn into a crazy nightmare.
Just because you don’t have much time to work with doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the habits that are crucial to your transformation.
10. Live Under Your Means
Apparently, the most common cause of unhappiness and dissatisfaction for most people is greed.
It’s this idea of biting off more than you can chew.
In theory, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to overindulge in the things that you desire. But, in reality, an overindulgence is often upsetting in many ways.
When starting over in life, your best bet is to live under your means.
That’s not saying you shouldn’t aspire for more.
Just be objective when budgeting yourself.
If you earn $1000, don’t allow your living expenses to be $1000. If it is, find ways to reduce your expenses every month.
Opt for cheaper alternatives and be more cautious with your spending.
It doesn’t matter if you earn $1000 or $100000, live under your means, whatever that may be.
And when you can’t reduce your cost of living, then your only option is to make more money.
I know I sound so flippant saying this as if it’s so easy to make more money. But, let’s be honest with ourselves, there’s really no other solution other than these.
So, you know what, use it as a driving force to work hard to be successful. Who knows, you might just be the one to make millions of dollars by the end of it all.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life is that there is no such thing as the perfect time.
Very rarely will circumstances suggest it’s the right time for you to start living your best life.
It doesn’t happen.
At least, not to my knowledge.
But, I think there’s an importance to taking a step forward in life even when circumstances aren’t perfect, or worse, they’re terrible.
I think it proves that you deserve to be in a better position because most people in the same position would probably feel sorry for themselves or cave under the weight of the pressure.
What’s difficult is to make a conscious decision to start life over and chase after your wildest dreams despite all the hardships and obstacles standing in the way.
That’s a display of inner strength.
Anyway, these are my thoughts on the topic.
I hope that I’ve been able to share something of value with you.
If you’re to take even one thing away from this article, let it be that you deserve more and you should take more.
Even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone and overcoming the odds that are stacked against you. With that being said, feel free to drop a comment below and let me know what you think.