Lessons about starting over

It feels at first like you have no plan and nothing figured out.  It’s just a dream or some aspiration to get to.  You know there is a place or a time you really want to be at but not really sure about how or why.  Starting over is simply hitting the reset button on all expectation.  It’s a way of telling yourself, ok, it’s time for a course correction.  It is a way of letting go and getting back to basics, which in my opinion is something we should do more often as humans.

I have had to restart my life so many times that it has become second nature to me.  I feel like at any point I could just hit the reset button and start doing it all over.  It does mean having to relearn a bunch of stuff brand new but with a little extra insight the next time around.  You have already experienced what you have thus far.  So taking that knowledge with you will be helpful, if you use it.  Seeing things from a different perspective also helps.  Not trying to re-make the past but instead trying to re-invent what you have done up to this point.

There is a tipping point conversion that happens in businesses.  A point of disruption where someone or something creates a space in the void of success.  Businesses, like governments, get too big for the space they fit into.  They experience too much success and the general feeling is, if we are being successful right now and dominating the market then there is no need to stray too far to the left and right in order to make things better.  That is usually the point when another business or idea comes to the surface and changes everything about that business.  A disruption happens because there is a much better way to do things and up to the point of disruption, no one has dared to venture out into those unknown waters.  Everyone may talk about it but no one actually goes out to test the theory.  A disruption can, but doesn’t always, eliminate a previously striving business.  Take Uber for example.  We have used public transportation for decades upon decades and it has generally been the same over and over.  You have a vehicle.  You give someone a ride.  They offer to compensate you for the ride.  A business is formed and instead of just one car giving a few people a ride many cars are involved moving in synchrony giving everyone a ride.  This business flourishes and in turn has to be regulated by some government agency for transportation.  There are rules and guidelines to follow.  If you want to get into this business space you have to follow the rules and do like everyone else is doing.  Until one day along comes technology and totally flips the business on its head.  Now you can not only get a ride but you can track the driver every step of the way.  There is no waiting anymore, at least waiting without knowing when and where you will be picked up and dropped off.  The driver knows ahead of time your name, your location, and your destination.  There is no exchange of money because everything is paid directly through the network.  No need to be anxious about not getting paid or not getting paid the right amount.  Tips can even be included.  This is the magical power of disruption.  Now you have the traditional taxi service industry fighting for its life trying to stay above water.  It is only a matter of time before the taxi service as we know it disappears, or.. another disruption happens.

This is essentially what you do with your life when you decide to make changes and start over.  You have been living this life you live for so long doing things in a certain way.  One day you wake up and have an idea about another kind of life.  You start thinking and planning and then eventually… that morning comes when you wake up and leave everything behind that you once knew.  It’s magical and scary at the same time.  You are stepping out into the unknown without a tether.  You are climbing the rock face without a safety line.  If you are smart about it you will have spent a good amount of time planning your escape and figuring out a lot of the details.  Even with years of prior planning, you can’t be sure about everything going the way you want it to.  But… do have mental contingencies for everything.  You have an idea of what it is you want and what you are willing to accept.  You have a mental model of where the point of no return is (and hopefully you go way beyond this point early on so that there is nothing that drags you back to where you started).  You venture out and discover all of the new things out there.  You find ways where you might not have know previously a way existed.  It’s not life or death, but it feels like it.

The rules are different and the game has changed.  You have stepped out of your comfort zone forever and even if you go back things will be vastly different than before.  Now is the time to embrace the change.  Now is the time to enjoy every second of this new life and to take it all in.  Now is the time to fill your day with activity and run yourself to the point of exhaustion.  Now is the time to go go go and get all the things done.  It’s a great time to be alive and to be moving so fast.  This excitement by itself is more than enough fuel to keep you moving but what happens in between when you are at a standstill?  What do you do and where do you turn your thoughts?  Of course, you are going to be a little homesick.  We all get that way and it’s a healthy sign that you are human.

I remember my very first time leaving home for what felt like forever.  It was only a couple weeks at Boy Scout camp as a counselor.  I had been to the camp as a camper for one week a year.  After 2 years I was ready to take my own steps and become an instructor rather than a student.  I felt it was the natural progression and I was mentally ready to take the leap.  The first few days were good and everything was fine.  I was getting settled into my new home of a few weeks.  I felt fine and was having a great time… until I started to think.  I knew I was only going to be there for a couple weeks and afterward going back home but something inside of me was pulling at my soul.  I felt a little depressed because I was not surrounded by my family.  It was a hot summer and I was there in the hottest part.  I remember going going going so fast and so much that I forgot to drink water once in a while.  I was drinking Mountain Dew nonstop keeping my energy up at all times.  I drank so much carbonated sugar/caffeine that I put myself into dehydration.  One morning in the second week at camp I was standing outside with all of the other counselors.  We were watching the flag ceremony and having the morning prayer just before breakfast so it must have been around 7 am.  As I stood there I felt my body start to get hot and my forehead began to perspire.  The next thing I knew I was flat on my face laying on the ground.  I had somehow locked my knees and passed out cold.  As I woke up I was carried into the nurse’s station.  While laying in there trying to recover a little I was told I was dehydrated and needed to drink more water.  I was so scared that they might send me home but at the same time, I was a little relieved to be able to go home.  To my surprise, they kept me there and kept watch over me for the rest of the time.  I survived and after that small fight with dehydration, I told myself there was a reason I was there in the first place.  I was there to be a counselor. The thing I had worked so hard for.  I stayed and finished up my job, going back a few more times over the next couple years.  I was homesick but I pushed through and found on the other side of my longing for home a safe place that didn’t keep me from my family.

Since then I have ventured out into all kinds of crazy adventures which have taken me far from home.  Every time I still get a little homesick.  I don’t think it is something you ever really get over.  I do know that every single time I have survived and come out stronger afterward.  I conquered my fears one by one and proved to myself that I could make it through.  That is all you can really do is conquer the fears one at a time and live to tell the story after.

I know now that the things that really keep me calm are the things I need to focus on in order to get quickly past my fears.  When I find myself in a completely new situation that might scare me I end up reading and writing more.  I occupy my time with the things I love and care about the most.  I also allow myself to be more carefree with my time and when a small window opens up I use every minute to just be and sit and think.  I think about all of the good things that are coming my way.  I think about all of the time and effort I spent just to get where I am now.  I think of all the hard work I have done so far and how the things I am experiencing now would never have happened without that hard work.  I think about the people I care about and how proud they are of me… even if it hurts them to tell me.  Eventually, the fear fades away and I am left feeling better and more in control.

These fears still happen every single time and being calm and in control of what I can control is one of the ways I am able to push past the fears and do what it is I started to do in the first place.  Change my life.  Changes happen for a reason.  Sometimes they happen unexpectedly.  Sometimes they happen because of choice.  But they happen.  Remembering the reasons why you find yourself in these situations and trying to maintain all of the constants in your life is hard but it helps keep the balance when you feel there is no balance.  No matter where you find yourself the imbalance is there for a reason.  It’s there to teach you something.  Learn from it and then move beyond it with strength and hope and courage.  Use every resource you can find in order to do this.