Let’s talk about how to start over in life.
“Get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.”
-Don Draper, Mad Men
First off, I’m what you might call #blessed.
For the past two years I lived very well in the Philippines. I had my own apartment, a TV, a computer, a workspace, my own kitchen, a few bathrooms, a nice bed to sleep in, and a laundromat one elevator ride away from my apartment.
Me in the Philippines
There was a Starbucks two minutes from me.
My life was pretty solid, and I felt I might marry the girl I was with and live in the Philippines for the rest of my life.
Except I went home to the United States and broke up with my girlfriend about two months after I arrived. I couldn’t go back to the Philippines because of COVID (and memories), so I had to abandon all my stuff there. All my friends, all my stuff, and the life I built for myself over the last two years was basically destroyed.
I sat in my cold room in the middle of a crappy Maryland winter thinking about how to start over in life with nothing. I had some clothes, my laptop, the Xbox I brought home with me, and little work trinkets, but that was it.
I thought my future life would be in the Philippines, but that got shot to hell (mostly because of my own bad decisions).
It was a really hard few months for me. I was depressed, and I don’t normally get depressed. I was aimless, eating like shit, working like shit, alienating myself from friends, playing copious amounts of Xbox, and basically sitting in my own filth.
Fast forward to today. Now I read one book per week. I go to Jiu-Jitsu three times per week. I track my weight and what I eat. I bullet journal. I work a solid 6–8 hours per day. I moved to Mexico. I practice Spanish for an hour every day. I blew my life up and created a new one.
Chilling in Mexico City
I’m not saying I’m the perfect person to listen to, but I’m 100 percent certain I have a few lessons that can help you if you want to know how to start over in life.
Here’s a few of them.
1. Start Reading 1 Book Per Week
The books I’ve read over the last 6 weeks.
You want to know the biggest mistake I made over the last five years of my life? And no, it has nothing to do with investing in Bitcoin. 😉
My biggest failure was NOT reading consistently.
Granted, I was spending all of my time building a blogging business, but that’s no excuse.
Anybody can find 30 minutes per day to read. I don’t care who you are. You can listen to audiobooks in your car on your way to work, for instance.
This is first in my countdown of how to start over in life because one book I read back in March is the reason I cut the shit out of my life, moved to Mexico, and got back on the damn horse.
That was Jordan Peterson’s 12 More Rules For Life.
Without that book, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
I probably wouldn’t be here in Mexico, either.
Since I read Jordan’s book, I made it a point to read one book per week from there on out. Sure, it’s expensive to buy so many books, but I always remember this quote from Ben Franklin:
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
So the $80 I spend every month on books is worth it.
I read a book on Bitcoin that changed my life. Now I have $10,000 invested in crypto. I read a book on bullet journaling. Now my whole life is organized in one convenient moleskin journal. I read a book about relationships that’s changing how I communicate with people for the better.
If you want to learn something, there’s probably a book about it.
It’s the single greatest way to change when starting over in life. I’m convinced.
2. Look At Yourself In The Mirror And Honestly Point Out Your Flaws
Our second stop on the “How to fix your life” train is to make drastic budget cuts to your character flaws.
That’s right. I want you — nay, I NEED you — to write down all your biggest character flaws on a piece of paper. I’ll wait.
For instance, the reason my relationship failed was because of me. I had to admit that to myself. I was an okay partner in some areas, but a really shitty partner in others. If I ever want to get married one day (I DO), then I need to fix this crap.
When starting a new life alone, you have to fix flaws in your character, or else they’ll keep coming back to haunt you later like a broken record.
Bring your character flaws to the light. Work to fix them. That’s the only way you can make meaningful progress in life. Otherwise you’ll just make the same mistakes and stay where you are.
That’s not how to restart your life — by staying the same. And you know it.
3. Go To A New Place
I wrote about Al Pacino’s advice to go somewhere new if you want to make a change in your life. The guy is an Academy Award winner and one of the best Actors of all time. I think he knows a thing or two about life.
I moved to Mexico City six weeks ago and it was the best decisions I ever made.
I was in limbo in the United States. I knew I didn’t want to live there long term. I needed to go somewhere — anywhere — in my journey towards starting a new life alone.
So Mexico it was.
Arriving was a shock my system. During my first two days I wanted to buy a plane ticket home. I thought it was the worst decision of my life. Telling comfort to fuck off is a hard thing to do.
But I adjusted, settled in, made new friends, and now I spend less time thinking about what a mess my life is, and more time thinking where I can get more tacos.
That’s the benefit of living in a new place. It forces you to be an active participant and get out of your own head.
4. Start Bullet Journaling
This is the secret weapon. I swear to baby Jesus that bullet journaling has changed my professional and personal life in incredible ways.
If learning how to start over in life were a car, bullet journaling would be the NAS.
It gives structure to ideas, eliminate excuses, and will make sure you never forget any to-do on your list ever again.
Here’s a spread I use to track my mood every day. I can look back and see whether I’m generally happy or sad at a glance. That’s powerful.
Here’s a spread I use to write down moves I learn in Jiu-Jitsu.
Here’s a spread I used to track things I needed to do in May.
It’s completely customizable, and has a system where you never forget anything that you write down. With it I’ve turned ideas into goals and goals into action plans.
This is required.
Buy this book if you want to learn how to bullet journal, or watch this video to get a quick orientation.
5. Become A Beginner Again
You can’t learn how to start over in life without one crucial element..
Trying new things.
That’s the whole point, right? Starting over in life requires you to do something different. If you didn’t do something different, you’d be the same person you always were.
I became a beginner again by taking up Jiu-Jitsu, learning Spanish, and moving to a whole new goddamn country.
The truth is, it’s hard to be a beginner. Right? You feel like a moron all the time. You feel stupid and clumsy, which doesn’t sound like a good recipe for building your confidence back up.
Starting over in life requires it, though.
When you try something new, it’s true that you’ll initially take the elevator down to an even deeper part of hell that you currently find yourself in.
However, relatively quickly after that initial descent, you’ll get used to it. I got used to speaking Spanish with people. Now I feel a lot more confident in myself. I got used to getting my ass kicked in Jiu Jitsu. Now I have more fun and just focus on the workout.
Starting a new life alone boils down to moving from one comfort zone to another. Getting used to another comfort zone requires a beginner’s mindset, though. You have to be willing to feel like an idiot for a second in order to settle in to the new life you’ve imagined for yourself.
That’s how to restart your life. That’s how to fix your life.
How To Start Over In Life With Nothing
- Start reading 1 book per week.
- Write down all your character flaws
- Go to a brand new place.
- Begin bullet journaling
- Become a beginner again
There’s a lot more to this, but these five steps will get you closer to starting a new life alone.
That’s how to start over in life.