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How to Make a Fresh Start in Your Life

March 17, 2020

For some people, there might come the point where it becomes clear that something needs to change. 

You may come to realize that the path you’re on is not leading you to the life you’ve envisioned and that you cannot continue down the same road.

Whether it’s a relationship, your health, finances, or some other aspect of your life, you recognize that it’s time for a fresh start.

And something doesn’t need to go horribly wrong for you to come to this conclusion. There are a variety of reasons why you might decide that it’s time for a change. 

Some of the major reasons that push people to a new path are divorce, debt, or not being happy in their current job. 

But it also could be something like a new year’s resolution. Or perhaps you heard something from a motivational speaker that resonated with you deep inside.

No matter what sparked the need for a new direction, you’ve come to a point where you know that you must pursue something new.

But change is scary. After all, you may have invested precious years of your life into your relationship or your career, and you can’t even imagine walking away.

But if you embrace the uncertainty and take a leap of faith, it can open up a world of new beginnings, new passions to pursue, and new challenges to conquer.

Imagine waking up every day and jumping out of bed, because you can’t wait to tackle what’s ahead.

But that sort of life, where you’re switched on and excited every single day, isn’t going to happen until you decided to leave behind what isn’t working, and choose to make a fresh start.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the reasons why people choose to make a fresh start. We’ll also talk about how you can go about making a change, and include some resources that might be helpful.

A fresh start after a divorce

Although the numbers have been decreasing lately, divorce is still prevalent in the UK, and all over the western world.

According to the UK Office for National Statistics, there were more than 90,000 divorces in the UK in 2018. 

The Guardian reports that unreasonable behavior, including infidelity, remains the most significant reason why someone may seek a divorce. Almost 52 % of wives and 37 % of husbands petitioned for a divorce due to their partner’s perceived unreasonable behavior.

Regardless of the reason, if you’ve been through (or currently going through) a divorce, it’s seldom easy. And sometimes, it can be downright traumatic with intense feelings of anger, hurt, and loss.

On the other hand, depending on the circumstances of your separation, you may even feel relieved.

Either way, as with anything long-term that comes to an end, there will be a period of adjustment. 

But if you can accept and acknowledge the difficult change, you’ll be better prepared to start the healing process. And you must know that you will be able to come out stronger on the other side.

Let’s look at some steps you can take to make a fresh start after a divorce.

How to make a fresh start after a divorce

Here are just a few of the many ways you can start the recovery process after a divorce or separation.

Don’t judge yourself

Remember that there are no right or wrong feelings when you go through something like a divorce. 

Your emotions are what they are, whether its anger, resentment, hurt, or relief. Instead of judging how you feel and trying to force yourself to be more “positive”, acknowledge and observe your feelings. 

According to an article by Cleveland Clinic, clinical social worker specialist Karen Tucker suggests that letting yourself feel whatever you’re feeling will help in the post-divorce recovery process.

Ms. Tucker also suggests that you shouldn’t hesitate to reach for help, whether it’s with a professional therapist, or through self-help books, courses, etc. 

Focus on your children

If you have children, focusing on their needs and their feelings can be a constructive way to start the recovery process after a divorce, according to Ms. Tucker. 

She suggests that since you and your ex will be co-parents forever, it’s best for everyone involved if you can find a way to work together to put your children’s needs first.

Change your name

For many people, changing their name after a divorce or separation can be the first step towards a fresh start. 

You might want to change your name back to what it was before your marriage, or perhaps you want to switch to a completely different name. For more information, check out our in-depth article on changing your name after divorce.

A fresh start from debt

Unfortunately, these days it is quite common for people to get into excessive debt.

Maybe you’re at a point where the debt is becoming overwhelming, and it is impacting your financial plans for the future. 

If you can recognize what got you into debt in the first place, then you can address those areas of your finances to stop getting further into debt. 

Here are some common reasons why many people find themselves in debt in the UK. 

Change in income - Maybe you had to change jobs, or move to another city for personal reasons. Either way, a change in income can cause you to get in debt unless there is also a similar change in your expenses.

Bad investments - Unfortunately, bad investments can happen to anyone, especially nowadays, with so much misleading information coming our way from a variety of sources.

Living beyond your means - If your expenses are too high for your income, then you can get into debt quite quickly. For example, if you live paycheck to paycheck, then any sudden unexpected expenses like car or house repairs can add a significant amount of debt.

How to start the process of getting out of debt

Regardless of how you got into debt, the first step in making a fresh start is to create a plan. Once you have a plan, then it’s about taking consistent action to implement that plan until you’re debt-free.

If you got into debt because of a change in income, then one possible solution could be to find ways to earn more money. Extra income could also help if you aren’t able to save any money, even though your expenses are already low.

The idea of earning more money may sound like a fantasy. But today more than ever, many online or part-time courses can provide you with in-demand, high paying skills.

Check out Flatiron School, London. They offer a wide array of tech courses, both online and in-person. The best part, they offer a money-back guarantee if you follow their blueprint and don’t land a job within six months after graduation.

If a career change isn’t a feasible option, or you’re happy with your income, and you only need to take care of your debt, a debt-consolidation loan might be an option for you.

Debt-consolidation loans combine all your payments into one monthly payment you can afford to help you make progress towards paying down your debt. 

The best thing you can do is to consult a qualified financial advisor in your area. They can assess your specific situation and recommend a plan that would be best suited for you.

You’re just looking to make a change

It doesn’t always need to be something major, like a divorce or overwhelming debt for you to make a change in your life. It could be something as simple as being inspired by something you read in a book, or by someone you follow on social media.

Here are some of the things that might spark the desire for change within you.

New year's resolutions

A new year is often an opportunity for a new beginning. It’s almost like a blank slate, and you can let go of the disappointments from the previous year.

Of course, one of the most popular new year’s resolutions is to be more fit and healthy. But it could also be other things like saving more money, improving a specific relationship, quitting smoking, among others.

Not being happy in your current job

If you’re not happy in your current job, that could be the catalyst that drives you to seek out new employment or even a new career.

As we mentioned before, there are many resources (like Flatiron School) that can help you acquire new skills and find a job that suits you better.

New inspiration

New inspiration for change can happen when you’re least expecting it. It can be something you read in a book, see in a movie, or discover on social media.

The relationship you have with people on your screen, or in the pages of a book, can be more significant than you realize. To your brain, the connection you form with influencers, podcast hosts, or characters in a TV series is real. 

It’s no surprise that what people read or watch often turns into inspiration for change in their lives.

Benefits of changing your name when making a fresh start

There are many reasons why someone may consider changing their name. As we explained above, a name change often helps people make a fresh start after a divorce or separation.

But you may also want a name change for other reasons.

Maybe you no longer want to associate with your own personal history, or with your family’s history. A new name can provide a sense of freedom, sort of like a blank slate.

Or you may feel that your current name doesn’t accurately represent who you are, your values, your accomplishments. 

And it’s not a brand new concept. Changing one’s name is a common practice in the Native American tradition.

According to Dr. Elisabeth Pearson Waugaman’s article in Psychology Today, among Native Americans, names are given to children with the idea that they will change one day.

Parents give children descriptive names, but when they grow up, they tend to change their names based on their own experiences and accomplishments.

In the UK, people typically change their names after marriage, divorce, or after going through a gender change. 

But you can also change your name for any reason you wish, like if you feel a new name represents you better, or that it will give you a new identity and a new sense of freedom.

Deed poll for a name change

To make your name change official, you’ll often need a document called a deed poll.

A deed poll demonstrates your new name, the fact that you’ve given up your old name, and the date when you started using your new name. You can use the deed poll to update your name on your driver’s license, bank documents, land registry, and passport. 

To learn more about a deed poll, and how to get one, check out our detailed deed poll guide.

Change your mindset

Deciding that you want a fresh start is a critical first step. But the decision alone is not enough if you're going to be successful in creating change in your life.

You’ve probably seen this happen before. 

Someone makes a new year’s resolution to eat healthily and start exercising five times a week. They join a gym, and they are excited about the positive change they are about to make.

Unfortunately, a month later, you find that they’ve fallen back to their old patterns and habits, and they’ve stopped going to the gym and making their green smoothies for breakfast.

Why does this happen so often? It’s because most people fail to shift their mindset. 

Your mindset is like your operating system. If you try to run your new life, your new habits, on your old operating system, then you’re decreasing your odds of success.

To be successful, you have to adopt some new ways of thinking, like accepting and learning from temporary failure, taking nothing for granted, and not caring about every single thing others may think about you.

Here are some great books to help you create that shift in your mindset.

Jocko Willink - Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual

Jocko Willink is a decorated, retired US Navy SEAL. He is also a successful  entrepreneur, author, podcast host, and leadership coach.

In his book, "Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual", Jocko outlines the physical and mental disciplines he imposes on himself to achieve freedom in all aspects of his life.

He also goes into specific training routines (both beginner and advanced), dietary choices, and sleep habits to help you optimize your daily performance as you seek to create change in your life.  

Angelique Bochnak - Change Your Mindset Change Your Life

“Change Your Mindset Change Your Life” is a motivational, self-help book without the fluff.

It is full of practical steps you can implement today to propel the change you’re seeking in your life. 

The actionable steps in the book will help you identify your deepest desires, assess your current habits, learn to think positively and challenge your willpower.

It will also help you eliminate the distractions that might be holding you back. 

David Goggins - Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds

David Goggins is another retired US Navy SEAL. More recently, he has earned fame as an ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, motivational speaker, and author.

But he didn’t start that way. His childhood was a nightmare; his life filled with poverty, racial prejudice, abuse, depression, and weight issues.

But through sheer determination, self-discipline, hard work,  and mental toughness, Goggins was able to transform himself into one of the most decorated Navy SEALs, and one of the world’s top endurance athletes.

In his book, "Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds", Goggins reveals his life story. He also lays out a path that you can follow to push past your obstacles, tame fear, and reach your new goals.

Learn a new skill/challenge

When you learn a new skill, in a way, you’re almost becoming a new person.

Not only are you creating new connections in your brain, but you’re also opening up new possibilities to connect with others who share your new skill. It can also improve your memory, your problem-solving skills, and your creativity.

Let’s look at two popular skills that have helped many people transform their lives and make a fresh start.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ, is fast becoming one of the most popular martial arts in the world. Celebrities like movie-star Ashton Kutcher, and Joe Rogan, one of the world’s most popular podcast hosts, and big proponents of BJJ.

Clinical psychologist Dr. David J. Ley (who is also a long-term BJJ student) explains the growing popularity of BJJ in a Psychology Today article. 

He explains that BJJ offers students something unique that triggers psychological fulfillment. 

Through body-to-body contact, BJJ offers powerful biologically-mediated experiences that are affirming and accepting. They trigger the release of chemicals and hormones in your body that promote awareness, focus, and connection. 

And when you add the competitive and problem-solving aspects of BJJ, you can see why so many people find it addictive. 

Practitioners also tend to appreciate the positive and supportive community that exists around BJJ.

Learning a new musical instrument

Learning a new musical instrument can be an extremely rewarding experience. 

Whether it’s the violin, piano, guitar, or drums, musical training can improve how your brain functions. 

According to research from the University of Montreal, those with musical training tend to be more alert, and it can also improve your performance in other aspects of life.

Final thoughts on making a fresh start

If you want to make a fresh start in your life, whether it’s due to divorce, debt, not being happy in your job, or another reason, the first step is to create a plan on how you’ll go about making a change.

Explore some of the ideas and resources mentioned in this article to see which one resonates with you the most. Then try to surround yourself with people who will support you in your journey—both when it comes to your friends and the content you consume online.

And finally, remember, a fresh start in your life is a long-term commitment. If you start taking consistent action towards your desired change, expect and learn from temporary failures, and keep a positive mindset, you’ll transform yourself into someone new before you know it.

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