The Fresh Start Illusion

Do you ever find yourself wishing for a fresh start? A moment where you can  start a new? Do you wish for a day where your life will just magically turn around? I hate to be a bearer of bad news, but “fresh starts” don’t exist. At least not in the way most view them.

Many of us live under the impression that changes begins tomorrow. Instead of focusing our energy on today,  we put our power on a shelf and just wait. Instead of creating we react. Instead of tuning in, we tune out. Rather than accepting what is, we crave more. This creates a never ending cycle of full blown misery.

A few weeks ago, as my first semester of college began coming to a close, I found myself saying, ” I can’t wait until next semester, it will be so much better than now.” It took me a while before I realized the error in my thinking. What’s stopping me from enjoying my classes now? What’s  stopping me from finding the good in my current situation? It turns out my desire for a fresh start was preventing me from being content now.  No one is immune.

Fresh starts can be beneficial. It’s nice to sometimes have a clean slate to work on. It’s OK to be excited about your future and look to improve on your past failures. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy starting something new. Uncertainty is exciting. But more often than not your old beliefs toward your current reality quickly rot the fresh start in which you are given. Leaving you to want yet another, and another.. and another..

I’m not saying you can’t look forward to tomorrow. I’m not saying you can’t look forward to a certain future event. I’m not saying you can’t look be excited for the beginning of next month. The problem begins when you become entirely dependent on fresh starts.

“I can’t be happy unless it’s Monday.

“I can’t start new habits until January first..”

“I’ll be happy when I have a new job.”

Drop those excuses now.

The truth is, fresh starts are simply an illusion of our mind. The more you chase them the more stale they become. Waiting for a fresh start is like going fishing with no fishing pole. If you want to make changes in your behavior or turn your life around, the time to do so isn’t next Monday, or the beginning of the next month, it’s now.

A true fresh start begins in the moment. Once you attach a future or past value to the term, it immediately becomes tainted by the events of uncertainty.

Over the years I’m made a lot of personal changes in my life. I’ve began eating healthier, writing more, meditating regularly, and have reduced my negative thinking substantially. Yet none of them habits just appeared. The changes occurred because I decided my fresh start is always now. The times I struggled were the times when I gave my power  away to anything but the present moment.

The only fresh start is now. Yet unfortunately, many continue to believe that a fresh start lies in some distant land.

Waiting for a fresh start is putting your dreams on hold. It’s a rational (at least to our minds) reason to procrastinate. If the conditions will be better tomorrow why not wait? But the conditions are never better tomorrow. As we all know that perfect day never comes. Even with that knowledge many us, (myself included) delude ourselves into thinking we will have more power at some later time. But when waiting for tomorrow, we only weaken ourselves today, which is the only time change can really occur.

When you turn your back on the moment you invite drama and unhappiness in your life. You’re telling your subconscious mind there’s no point in being happy now because you can be happy tomorrow. But by the time the fresh start appears it is already being spoiled by the future and the past.

Instead of giving your power away, embrace it.  You have capacity to turn your life around. But only if you tune into the freshness of now.

Your fresh start begins today.

22 Comments

  • Bud, what’s so great is that you were able to actually catch yourself in the act – “I can’t wait until next semester, it will be so much better than now.”
    Because it is so easy to slip into this pattern of living in the future (or in the past “It was so much better then”) that until we can have the presence of mind to wake up and take notice when our attention is not on making the most of now, we may as well be asleep. In “The Miracle Of Mindfulness”, Thich Nhat Hanh talks about how we should “wash the dishes to wash the dishes”. We should focus on being where we are when we are there, and really focus on the moment. Only then are we actually LIVING.
    Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  • Hey Bud,

    You are completely right on that! Many times (almost always actually), we see life as a linear process of time. Where the left side of the line states the past, the middle the present, and the right the future.

    Many people believe that the future is somehow their “salvation”, that their present is merely a stepping stone until their future comes to make them feel better. But people must realize that in reality there is no such thing as a future, it is merely a concept that humans have invented to fit the time concept. The only reality and life that can be experienced and that is existent is NOW. There is no stepping stone, there is no salvation, there is only now. And if the moment of NOW isn’t making you feel as well as you had hoped so, well there is only one thing to do : accept what is.

    Great reminder and post on the power of now Bud.

    Steven, oh and also good luck on your college years, I’m going back the start of next year. 🙂

  • Right on, Bud. We are lazy lazy people. I am very guilty of this. And worse off, I am aware that the change can start today. I think that very often, it is out of our comfort zone to enter into a new routine. It’s almost scary, even dangerous. We would much rather go through life down the safe street. As you said, it can start today, all it takes is a little motivation. Thanks for the motivation, Bud.

  • Bud,

    I have to admit I’ve found myself wanting to wipe the entire slate of my life clean at times and start all over. But then I realize, these experiences, setbacks, failures, successes all of it has made me who I am today. I probably wouldn’t be that interesting of a person without all of it.

  • Really a great post!! I love your words “Waiting for a fresh start is putting your dreams on hold.” this is so true!! So many of us can be trapped this way, always wanting more and not having the courage or foresight to accept and enjoy the now… Thank you for the spark of inspiration : )

  • Natalie: Thanks for stopping by! I’ll be sure to check out the Miracle of Mindfulness.. it sounds interesting. 🙂

    @Steven: Thanks for your comment bro. Good luck with college 🙂

    @Positively Present: Glad to helped.

  • Bud,
    Your post helped at a time when I needed to be reminded of the NOW. Thanks so much for a wonderful description of time and our relation with it.

  • Wow, I couldn’t have said it better myself. And I am surprised you are just finishing your first semester freshman year…you seem wise beyond your years. I suffered from the “Fresh Start Illusion” for quite some time. It is not a pleasant trap to be a part of. And the more you stay stuck in it the longer it sometimes takes to work your way out. Keep up the good work!

  • I really love your posts and the way you write. The funny thing here is that even if we think we are in the present and not thinking too much about the past and future and trying to let go of those thoughts, we still are in the past and can’t escape it because the mind is always in the past.
    The decision to let go of our thoughts, witch we don’t really understand is a really great shift in our life’s and the life’s of other people as well. 🙂

    can’t wait to read your next post 😀
    wish you all the best

  • Heya Bud!
    Cool post! I really enjoyed it because it is so true. I am also guilty of this although I try to drop the excuses and just start with it. It’s a prefectionistic habit to want to start something in a new semester, year or 1st day of the month. Start right now! I agree 🙂 I’ve started researching my affiliate project already, going to put a lot of time into it and build it up big!

    I will get a guest post to you soon! Just been hectic with moving house and all.
    Have an awesome day!
    Diggy

  • I’ve found myself in situations like this. Ands it always good to take the time to reflect and figure out the good.

    At the same time, if you’re really unhappy then maybe a fresh start could be a good idea?

  • Wow this is really good. I completely understand what you mean, off the bat in Shanghai I found myself in the same spot; I knew I would be moving back to the States so I figured “What’s the point?”, I wasted so much time just searching for the reset button. I really wish I’d read this then.

  • This is really cool. A very cool post. It is so refreshing and liberating to know that you can appreciate life right here, now, and choose to be happy regardless. Situations will come and go, up and down, that is life. That is one track. Then there is the emotional track. And the mental track. It is great to have the awareness that even if one track is going down, you don’t have to go down with it, that there are still other tracks. And you are not those happenings, you are the space in which they happen 🙂

  • At any moment, we have the power to change who we are and the life we live.  Wonderful advice for anyone stuck in a rut.

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