Sometimes you might throw your hands up in the air and wish you could begin life all over again, whether it’s because you’ve made a mistake, have suffered a lot in life, or because you simply feel stuck in a rut. Making a fresh start is very appealing when life has gone awry.

However, starting afresh is often easier said than done. Humans naturally have an aFresh startversion to change and fear of the unfamiliar or of getting things wrong. So you may be struggling to make a fresh start yourself, or perhaps it is other people who are trying to drag you back into their idea of who you are and what you should be doing.

Here are my 10 steps to making a successful fresh start:

1. Remember you’re not a tombstone

The only things about you that are true and fixed are your name and your date of birth. Nothing else is set in stone. Often we attribute qualities to ourselves and think of ourselves as a ‘shy’ person or a ‘little’ person, and we think of those things as innate and unchangeable. They are not. Believe me, I went from someone who was too afraid to use public restrooms to someone who now is able to give speeches on stage. Stop believing your own labels, otherwise you’ll never break them.

2. Judge yourself less harshly

Don’t blow off big ideas because it’s ‘just little old you’. People make massive changes and achieve astonishing feats every single day. Remember it’s not where you begin from that counts, it’s where you manage to get to.Take yourself a little less seriously. Learn to have fun with your fresh start, rather than recoiling in horror at the thought of doing something new and unfamiliar. Expanding your life and your comfort zone can be fun. It doesn’t matter if you trip up a little along the way – it’s how we learn.

3. Get a feel for the ‘New You’

Imagine what you will look like, talk like and how you will feel when you have started to accomplish this fresh start. Look at your surroundings and the people you are with. You may start with one idea for a fresh start – like a new career – and end up not liking what you see. So play around with this process for a while until you settle on something that looks and feels like it fits you perfectly. Make a vision that inspires you so much that you feel compulsively drawn to being that person living that life.

4. Set your goals

Make a list of concrete things you want to get rid of and what you’d like to change or achieve – the more specific the better. It’s better to say “I want to go running every Tuesday” than “I want to get fit”, and better to say “I want to have 5 new dates this month” than “I want to find a partner.” Give your brain a tangible and realistic piece of information to work with, so it can start searching for fresh opportunities for you.

5. Research

Once you have some clear ideas of what you would like your fresh start to look like, research the most realistic paths that will get you where you want to be. Do you need to be in a different environment? Will you need more or less money? Will certain things take up more of your time? Read interviews with people who have achieved what you would like to do. Learn some tricks and shortcuts and the whole process will be easier.

6. Clean your side of the street

This is a really vital step in making changes, especially if you’re doing so because you’ve made mistakes, treated others badly, or life has somehow gone awry. Apologise to anyone you need to for anything you did before and atone in any way you can. Then draw a line. That was the old you in your old life. You’re now starting afresh.

7. Set your boundaries

While there is no need to necessarily jettison everything or everyone you’ve ever known, taking note of your true friends is a good idea.When we want to change, sometimes people are jealous, make fun of us, or don’t like what we’re doing. If old friends won’t accept you, then get yourself a new gang of like-minded people who will support the new you. Boundary-setting is an important part of establishing your new start. Make a list of behaviours you will and will not accept from yourself and others. Have a look at the Personal Manifesto post for some more ideas on this.

8. Start replacing habits

The best way to cultivate new habits and ways of being are by replacing the old ones. People like habits and routines – they serve as markers for their day, so they can be hard to just drop or erase. So, instead, replace an old behaviour with a new one. Switch your usual weekend dose of junk telly for working on your novel, or instead of being the last person to arrive at a party, be the first.

9. Change at the pace that’s right for you

Making a fresh start does not mean that you have to change everything at once if you don’t want to, although there is something to be said for riding the momentum of success. Just make sure the changes you are making, big or small, are consistent with your vision for your new life.

10. Enjoy your fresh start!

Remember to thank everyone who has supported, helped and celebrated your changes along the way. And enjoy your new life!

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