Starting a new chapter in life is something we all have to deal with at different times in our lives.
Your new chapter might be starting a family, getting married, starting college, moving to a new state or country, getting divorced, retiring, or an abundance of other things.
Sometimes we need to start a new chapter because life didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to. Starting a new chapter can often be about changing course and bouncing back from something that didn’t go as planned.
Sometimes starting a new chapter is triggered by loss. We lose someone we love and our hearts are broken.
Thankfully new chapters can also be about embracing a wonderful new opportunity that has come our way.
I’ve had to start several new chapters in my life, some of which have been significant. Here’s a quick snapshot.
Back in 1990, I moved interstate with my boyfriend. My new chapter included moving states, finding a new job, and what I thought would be settling into a new life with my partner. Three months later he walked out on me, and I found myself alone. Moving to a new city was fun and exciting but also came with a dose of heartbreak and loneliness.
Jump forward 10 years and I was off to London with a man I was deeply in love with only for the relationship to fall apart 6 months later. I found myself back in my hometown, heartbroken, homeless, broke, and unemployed. I had to start completely from scratch. A few months later, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. I was forever changed when Dad died 6 months later.
I had to embark on a new chapter. I got a new apartment, a fabulous new job, and a new partner. Just over a year later that was all gone. My boyfriend disappeared, my whole company got made redundant, so it was time for another chapter!
Nine glorious months traveling by myself overseas were next on my list. After my trip, I found myself starting from scratch again (a lot of my new chapters have involved airports in case you were wondering!)
My latest chapter found me buying an apartment, working with a life coach, creating this website, and diving into my personal growth journey.
Starting a new chapter in life can be both exciting and challenging but there are ways to make new chapters more manageable.
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Let’s dive into what I’ve learned about starting a new chapter and how it can help you.
Have a vision of how your new chapter will look
For starters, if you are going to be starting a new chapter in life what do you want that new chapter to look like?
This is your big picture vision of what you want. Don’t worry about the specifics at the moment, work on getting a feel for who you want to be in this new chapter.
What feelings and emotions do you want to have? How do you want to feel about this experience?
If you are starting a family what do you want that to look like? If you are getting married how do you want marriage to feel (definitely talk through this one with your partner before tying the knot)? If you are retiring, how will you make that a wonderful experience?
Have your big picture in your head so you know what you want and you know what you are aiming for right from the start.
Work out your plan and priorities
Once you have your big picture in place, you need a plan.
This is where the specifics come into play. This is where you need the details. For example, if your new chapter involves moving to another state, then where are you going to live? How much money do you need to buy a house or pay rent or whatever you have decided on? What area do you want to live in?
Details are important here. Just a word to the over-planners though, be careful that you don’t over-plan. Accept you can’t control every little thing and leave some flexibility in your plan.
Along with your plan, you need to work out your priorities.
What are your priorities? What are your top 3 – 5 priorities for this new chapter in your life. Make sure that your priorities are in alignment with your plan. For example, if your priorities are getting healthier and spending time with family but your plan is based solely around climbing the ladder at work, you are going to have a conflict.
When your priorities clash, you get inner and outer conflict.
Starting new chapters can involve a reordering of our priorities, particularly if starting a new job is involved, so be aware that at least in the beginning you might have to focus a lot of your energy in one place.
You need to write down your plan, priorities, and big vision.
Writing things down gives you clarity about what you want and who you want to be in your new chapter.
Related post – How Your Top 5 Priorities Can Change Your Life
Get ready to flex your take action muscle (a lot)
Starting a new chapter in life generally requires taking action.
Exciting new chapters generally don’t involve sitting on the couch binging Netflix all the time.
Be prepared to take action. You are probably going to have to work hard or study hard or have some late nights (a nod to the people starting families with a young baby there) and take action on a consistent basis.
New chapters also involve making decisions. Some of those decisions you will need to make on your own, others will involve consultation but either way, you need to embrace that making decisions is a part of your new chapter.
Believe you can make it happen
Having plans and taking action is great but one big thing you need when starting a new chapter in life is a rock-solid belief in yourself.
You need to believe that you have the courage to dive into this new chapter. You need to believe that you have what it takes to move your life forward.
Granted you might not feel this belief, every second of every day (especially on the hard days) but it needs to be there at your core.
Believing in yourself and in your self-worth, gives you immense power and strength. Believe that you have the emotional capacity to deal with whatever comes along and your new chapter in life is already off to a brilliant start.
One of my favorite books for ramping up your self-belief is You are a Badass – How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Related posts –
- 10 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Self-Worth and Self-Esteem
- 10 Ways High Self-Esteem and Self-Worth Has a Huge Impact on Your Life
- Know Your Worth – 10 Things To Stop Doing To Yourself
- 12 Things To Remember When You Think You’re Not Good Enough
Understand you are in control
If like me, your new chapter came about because your old chapter fell into a million spectacular messy pieces, you might tend to think you don’t have much control over your situation.
But that’s not true. You are always in control of your situation (it just might not feel that way at the time).
The bad news.
You can’t control what other people think, say, or do. That can be a bitter pill to swallow but the sooner you swallow it the better off you will be.
The brilliant news.
You have control over your actions and feelings.
Being in control of your feelings doesn’t mean you don’t feel them. Quite the opposite actually. Often it’s trying to deny or push down the painful feelings that get us in the most trouble.
We have to feel them, go through the process of dealing with them and come out the other side. That’s how we get better control over them. We become better processers!
This is what working on your personal growth is all about.
An excellent book for working through some common thoughts and emotions is How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back from Happiness by Andrea Owen. I totally love this book and it has helped me change the way I think.
Related post – 10 Best Online Personal Growth Courses
Understand you might have to take baby steps
New chapters sometimes involve a lot of small baby steps towards what you want.
A new chapter might start with a big leap, but then sometimes it’s the hundreds of little things you do after that, that makes the difference.
While you are taking these baby steps, an important thing you are going to need is patience. Things often take longer than we think. I totally understand this can be frustrating and disappointing at times but find a healthy way to deal with the frustration and push forward.
Don’t expect all of your steps forward to be leaps.
Focus on small wins, small steps forward, every single day.
Every single day is the pivotal message there. Make sure you set and achieve daily goals, no matter how small, that move you closer to where you want to be.
Accept that people may not support your new chapter
As much as we would love the people that we love to support our decisions and choices, that’s not always going to be the case.
They might not support you moving away or your choice of partners or throwing in a high-paying job that you hate for a lower-paying job that will make you happier.
The people closest to us aren’t always going to be supporting and cheering us on. If you do have people like that in your life that support you no matter what decisions you make, hold onto and cherish them because they are incredibly special. Never take these people for granted!
People don’t always cope well with big changes so if your new chapter involves some big changes be prepared that not everyone is going to support those changes.
If you believe in what you are doing and know it’s the right thing for you then go for it. Don’t wait or try to get everyone on board before you start your exciting new chapter.
Related post –
- How to Believe in Yourself When Other People Don’t Support You
- Making a Big Change in Life? – Be Prepared for Resistance
Don’t compare your new chapter to someone else’s
This is where a lot of us come unstuck.
We start a new chapter and think we are doing pretty good, then we jump on the Internet!
Say you are a new mum for example. You are feeling pretty good about your new mothering skills than you jump on social media or a parenting website and think you see a whole lot of mothers doing a much better job than you.
Before you know it you are spiraling down the rabbit hole of comparison and feeling like a bad mother (when only moments ago, you thought you were doing a pretty fine job!)
Comparison makes everyone feel like they are losing at life.
It’s a complete waste of your time and energy (both of which you need a lot of when starting a new chapter). You are better off reserving your precious energy for what is important to you.
Don’t beat yourself if you have been comparing yourself, we all do it from time to time. I hope the below posts can help.
Related comparison links –
- Don’t Compare Yourself to People on Social Media
- 16 Thought-Provoking Comparison Quotes to Help You Stop Comparing Yourself
- 14 Ways to Deal with Being Compared to Someone Else
Find the joy and opportunity in your new chapter
As I mentioned earlier, some new chapters can be hard. Really hard.
But amongst all the craziness and challenges, there is also joy and opportunity.
When my partner left me heartbroken in Sydney, I made some wonderful new friends at my new job. Those friends are still a huge part of my life today (more than 25 years later). None of them would be in my life now if I had not made that move and gone through what I did.
Find the joy and opportunity in your new chapter. There is bound to be more of it than you realize!
Be in the moment
This can definitely be a problem when we are starting our new chapter. We have so much going on and so much to do that we miss being in and enjoying the present moment.
We stress more than we enjoy what is actually happening. Being so future-focused can mean we completely miss being in the moment.
If you want to get the most out of your new chapter, make sure you spend time in it!
An excellent book to help with mindfulness and being in the moment is Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day by Jay Shetty.
Let go of the old chapter
This can be one of the hardest parts about starting a new chapter in life.
Letting go of the old one.
It’s particularly hard when heartache is involved. If your marriage or a long-term relationship ended and you are heartbroken you will need to deal with and process that loss.
Seek out counseling or therapy if you need it. There is no shame in asking for help. I say that from experience as someone who has reached out to a counsellor when I needed help.
Grief is an extremely difficult, complex, and challenging emotion, so if you are dealing with the loss of someone or something you love, make sure you give yourself extra time and care to work through your thoughts and feelings.
When it comes to grief if you can avoid it, try to not make any huge life-altering decisions when you are at your lowest. Of course, life doesn’t always give us that luxury but if you get the chance give yourself the time you need to grieve before making any big decisions.
If you are grieving (which unfortunately many people are right now), I hope the below blog posts can help provide some comfort.
- What’s Your Grief? – 64 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief
- 10 Grief Quotes to Help You Through the Grieving Process
Make peace with your previous chapters
This might sound a lot like the previous one but they are different.
Letting go and making peace are different things.
Like me, you might have started a new chapter, had it fall apart, and had to pick yourself back up again and start a new one, only for that to fall apart as well.
At some point, you need to make peace with that. Actually, the truth is you don’t have to make peace with it, but you will be more content and happy if you do.
Bitter, resentful, angry people are the ones who haven’t make peace with a painful chapter in their lives.
Get on board with your new chapter as quickly as possible
New chapters can sometimes come with a big dose of resistance, denial, and a general sense of ‘there is no damn way I’m getting on board with that sh*t!’
We might be clinging to our old chapter or having a hard time accepting our new one (especially if it was sprung on us and not something we wanted or signed up for). Think being fired or being suddenly made redundant as good examples!
I can definitely relate to this one because sometimes I take longer to accept change than I would like. I might be pushing my physical body through the changes but my heart and head aren’t on board and internally I’m struggling.
I totally understand how this feels and it’s not easy.
But over time we need to get our body, head, and heart all on the same page.
Brendon Burchard (who is my favorite non-fiction author) has two excellent books that can help with motivation and moving forward. The Motivation Manifesto is written in a tone that gives you a much-needed kick, so if that’s what you need, this book is for you.
- The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives that Make You Feel Alive by Brendon Burchard
- The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power by Brendon Burchard
Be optimistic but also realistic
Remember when I mentioned heading off to London earlier. At the time, I was super excited but in hindsight (such a wonderful thing – isn’t it!) I wasn’t realistic about certain things.
One of those things was money.
I couldn’t find work in London, my keycard was chewed by an ATM machine not long after arriving and I was fully reliant on my partner for money. That might not sound like a big problem but it was a huge problem for me.
I had always worked and paid my own way. Not having my own money contributed to me sliding into depression. It certainly wasn’t the only thing that led me down that path but it was a key contributor.
I’m using money here as an example because I made that mistake myself but your being realistic might be about something else.
It might not just be about being realistic. It may be more about knowing yourself fully.
This doesn’t mean you don’t put yourself in situations that are different from how you normally live, it’s more about being prepared for being who you are (not who someone else might want you to be) in that new situation.
Embrace the fact that you need to learn new things
New jobs, new cities, being a new mother, being a parent, all require a lot of learning. They require trial and error to see what works best for you.
What works for one person, might not work for you. What works for the majority of people, might not work for you. New chapters are a time of learning and experimentation.
You will make mistakes and that is okay.
New chapters can mean learning a lot of different things all at the same time.
Embrace a learning mentality and run with it. Learning can be fun and exciting (magical even?) Be in the moment and learn everything you can.
Most importantly make sure you enjoy the process.
Be kind to yourself
Taking big risks, being courageous, starting a new chapter can all be wonderful but you are going to have days when it’s well – NOT.
While you should treat yourself with kindness and compassion all the time, it’s on those hard days, that you need to be extra kind to yourself.
You need to treat yourself with compassion and respect.
When you have one of those low, ‘what the hell am I doing’ days when you doubt yourself and your decisions, you need to be kind to yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up and go into a spiral, just allow yourself to feel your feelings. Sometimes just admitting to yourself – ‘I feel overwhelmed right now but I will work through this situation one step at a time’ can really help.
Take a deep breath and think of what your next step needs to be.
Related posts –
- How to Maintain Your Self-Confidence During Times of Adversity
- How to Maintain Your Self-Confidence During Times of Adversity Part 2
Accept that new chapters are inevitable
Whether we like it or not, life throws new chapters at us.
Life is constantly changing.
The reality is life is a string of new chapters. Some of them might have long timeframes between them but at some point, we all have to deal with starting a new chapter in life.
Think about it, there is a new chapter heading your way at some point. If you have kids living at home they will grow up and move out on their own. If you are currently working, eventually you will retire.
Starting a new chapter in life can be exciting, wonderful, and challenging. Dive in, believe in yourself and make the most of your new chapter in life.
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Read Next – How to Deal with Big Changes in Your Life