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The Benefits of Starting Over (Why We Struggle to Change Our Habits)

By Karen Vally on 14 Sep 2021

One of the greatest tragedies of humankind, is that we are always expected to look as if we have every aspect of our lives under control. When we're ready to ignore this unrealistic expectation and experience the benefits of starting over, either through choice or necessity, we pave the way for lasting happiness. The very nature of being human involves starting over, not once or twice, but throughout our living years.

Starting over gives us an opportunity to accept our situation, learn from the past and to find ways in which to move forward. It's about being brave enough to venture out using one's strengths and to practise asking for help and support. It's a time to sharpen our awareness by continually asking questions. It's an exciting way in which to get to know ourselves better. We get to observe ourselves dipping our toes into the water of life or taking a huge leap of faith.

"Starting over helps open doors to a new way of thinking and being, by changing, (and hopefully lightening), your load and offering new perspectives. You build resilience and courage and you start anew and reach for new goals." 

But let's try and unravel the mystery of our resistance to changing our habits. It's easier to stay where we are, even when we know that something's missing. Many people wish that their jobs were less stressful, but are afraid to give up their lavish lifestyles in favour of a more meaningful life. Or they simply stay where they are due to financial stability, status, recognition or peer pressure, or all of those.

What impedes our progress? Laurent Amzallag, a personal trainer, says that we compare ourselves to others, we're impatient and we make big promises instead of small changes. David Di Salvo says that we are often motivated by negative emotions such as fear, instead of more positive ones such as growth; we harbour an "all or nothing" mentality; we lack the necessary tools; we underestimate the process of change; we neglect to change our environment; we forget that failure is an inevitable part of changing our habits or we omit to make a commitment to ourselves. 

Adi Jaffee believes that the process of adopting new habits is difficult because there aren't always systems in place to assist us. Incentives and accountability, he says, are the most fundamental factors.

We also underestimate the benefits of feeling supported and encouraged by a coach, mentor, family member, friend or colleague.

"If we really want to change, one of the first things we have to do, is take skewed ways of thinking such as all-or-nothing, off the table...Behavioural change is a big thing, no matter the behaviour, and it's almost never possible to take all of it on at once. We have to start somewhere with particular, measurable actions. Big and vague have to give way to small and specific."

We must remember that while we are working on one area of our lives, we're often using those same resources to keep the other aspects in balance. Changing our habits is challenging. It is neither simple nor quick, especially if we insist on trying to accomplish it on our own.

"Being able to control how you look at things is the key to learning how to start over and creating a fresh start. Shaping your perception is so powerful that just a small change in perspective can completely change everything, from your motivation and outlook, to your self-esteem and confidence."

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