I see this quote from time to time on social media:
You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now, and make a brand new ending.
The quote is attributed to everyone from Zig Ziglar to the Philadelphia Eagles, but according to Quote Investigator, it is originally from a book by James R. Sherman titled Rejection: How to Survive Rejection and Promote Acceptance. (How ironic to have your authorship of a quote about rejection rejected by the internet!)
I love the idea of fresh starts–it’s one of the reasons I’m getting re-married on New Year’s Eve–but when you are over 40, new starts are pretty much impossible. I don’t know about you, but my emotional baggage is like a Louis Vuitton tote: It lasts a lifetime, holds everything, and goes with me everywhere. There is just too much life behind me at this point to operate with a totally clean slate.
Fresh endings, however… Those I can do. The question is, how you get there? How do you press the reset button when your life seems to be wash, rinse, and repeat?
After reading just about every book available on the subject, I’ve concluded there are three key things to help you start to make a brand new ending:
Gratitude. You need to be thankful for what you have as in focusing on the good somehow drives out the bad. I’m not sure if it’s the concept of abundance, karma, a God thing, or quantum physics, but the more thankful you are, the more good things come into your life. Sometimes, this is very hard to put into practice; especially when things are not going well, it’s hard to stay positive. For me, a good gratitude reminder is when I drive by a strip club on the outskirts of town on the way to my gym. They frequently advertise Customer Appreciation Night on their sign. I ask myself if my situation is more grim than Customer Appreciation Night at a strip club. Invariably, it is not and I’m thankful.
Forgiveness. I’ve learned if you don’t forgive people and move on, you stay stuck, but forgiveness is easier said than done. I’m a big fan of Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness meditation that helps walk you through the forgiveness process. It’s not easy and often I have to remember the wise words of C.S. Lewis: “If we really want … to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo. One might start with forgiving one’s husband or wife, or parents or children…” I’ve not forgiven everyone who needs forgiving, but I have found the very act of trying to forgive helps to move one forward.
Vision. You need to be able to see your future in order to create your own happily ever after. 1010ParkPlace’s Susan Tolles has written an excellent article on envisioning your ideal future. See it, believe it, make it happen.