As kids everywhere go back to school, many adults also find this a great time to start something new. There's a sense of nostalgia and that age-old longing to deck ourselves out with new clothes and school supplies and get excited about the unknown potential of a new experience.
Some people join in with their children's activities, by volunteering in the classroom or with an extra-curricular activity. Others focus on their own needs by exploring new health and recovery solutions, joining a therapy group or taking a class.
Sometimes relationships benefit from a new start, whether that's renewing a relationship that you've neglected or healing some conflict in a key relationship.
Why start now?
There are a lot of benefits to expanding your day-to-day life experiences.
We learn things about ourselves we could have never imagined, and gain a sense of satisfaction at trying something – even when we're not as successful as we'd like to be. Every time we take the risk to try something new, we make room for new levels of growth and success. We also open ourselves up to new relationships and other possibilities for fun and restoration.
If you're feeling down, a new interest can take you out of yourself and restore feelings of happiness and peace. You may not love everything new that you try, but consider if it's still better than what you were doing before – especially if you may have been at home isolating. When you get out and try something new, it can truly enrich your life.
Mentally, a new challenge can stimulate your thinking and creativity, breeding new ideas and solutions for things that were troubling you.
Why is it so hard to start?
It's hard to start something new when you are feeling fatigued, depressed or down. It's kind of like trying to move through mud. Sometimes you may be moving forward in other aspects of your life, such as your career, but when it comes to your personal well-being you're just plain stuck.
When things have been the same, year after year, it's easy to get stuck there. You may not like it, but you're used to the familiarity. It might not be any fun, but you know what to expect.
Starting something new, taking that risk, means opening yourself up to something completely unknown. And that might just be too scary; especially if you try to do it alone. You may have already let yourself off the hook, procrastinating even for years about making an important change.
That's why I often encourage my clients to use me as an accountability partner. If you're not in therapy, a trusted friend or family member can serve the same purpose as someone you can check in with about what you're trying to do, whether you do it and how it went. Once you're accountable to someone else, it creates a new sense of momentum, support and motivation. You may even inspire your accountability partner to make their own changes!
Where to start
There are plenty of ways for you to make a fresh start this fall. With the start of the school year, taking a class comes to mind immediately. Check out community organizations like our Winter Park Public Library's Lifelong Learning Institute (http://www.wppl.org/institute/programs.htm). Browse through the offerings and see what draws you in.
Depending on where you live, you may find classes in all sorts of subjects, things like dance, drumming, painting, quilting, computers, cooking, music and personal growth. Maybe higher learning is more your style; if so, find out if you can audit classes at your local college or university.
If you're already taking part in an activity like reading or quilting, see if there's a club you can join for people with the same interests. Or why not do yourself some good by helping someone else, and volunteer?
If you want to keep things really simple and less structured, just make an effort to renew a friendship or start a new one. Set up some coffee dates or trips to local attractions.
The new start myth
I have just one word of caution for you. Don't fall into the trap of believing that you can only make a change at certain magical times (e.g., September, January 1st or next Monday morning).
The truth is: you can start anew every single day, at every single meal and with every single choice that you make. If you've been unhappy or dissatisfied with something you've been doing, what are you willing to start doing instead?