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It’s International Starting-Over Day! (well, it ought to be)

A small child at the bottom of a large staircase outside in the sun.

I’ve noticed something lately: I’m finding myself having to start over with several patterns that I hoped had turned into perfect habits. Why is this happening? What should I make of it? And what should I do? Let’s see if we can answer some of these questions. This is why I’m declaring today International Starting-Over Day.

First up: Meditation. I’ve been doing it on and off for decades, but made it a sort-of daily habit about three years ago. I’ve had some phenomenal streaks. And then, I’d miss a day. So I’d start over, only for it to happen again, a while later. My Ten Percent Happier App keeps faithful (and ruthless) track of my activity.

I’ve started over a lot, from the looks of this data. 43 times I’ve had to start over after 3 days.

So: 1) why has this happened; 2) what should I think about it; and 3) what should I do? I think my answers here are:

  1. It’s happened because life happens.
  2. This is what life is like– imperfect, filled with gaps.
  3. When this happens, I can just start over.

Second starting-over habit: my no-buying clothes/shoes/accessories plan, January 1–July 1 2023, has been blown to smithereens. Last July, along with Samantha and some of the other bloggers, I embarked on a no-buying-clothing-and-such, and it worked very well through 2022.

But when I re-upped in January 2023, I lost resolve right away. It started in mid-January with the purchase of a teal pair of chaco sandals (my sister and niece have them, which I borrowed during the winter holidays, so I wanted a pair) Then in March I felt like I needed a pair of Dansko shoes for work. April brought a late-night order of two cute shirts and a jacket (they were on sale, but that is hardly exculpatory). May? Another jacket, purchased at a friend’s Cabi clothing party. And now, just before June, courtesy of REI, I’m the guilty owner of incredibly cute summer sandals that I don’t need, but really want.

What should I do now? I get to choose, including starting over. If I want to restart a no-buying plan, I can. The fact that I bought stuff doesn’t mean I can’t slow down or stop or rethink or make plans to curb buying. Whatever I decide to do, I starting over is always an option.

Here’s a tough one: Cycling. For years, I’ve considered myself a cyclist. I rode a lot, under a lot of conditions, on and off-road. Over the past seven years, I found I was riding less. This was distressing, but didn’t help me with reestablishing a regular cycling habit. Last summer I bought a beautiful fancy e-bike, but I haven’t ridden it much. What can I do?

If I want to resume riding, I can start over. It is hard to ride or run or walk or swim when I used to do it regularly, and now I don’t. But that’s the beauty of starting over. I can just… resume.

Of course life isn’t that simple. Habit formation and re-formation aren’t that simple. But they’re important, and they’re always available to us. I’m beginning to think that if we want to live interesting and fulfilling and relatively happy lives, getting more comfortable with starting over will help.

I should say here that I’ve been inspired by Tracy’s blog Vegan. Practically. Her post on Ways to Be Imperfect has made me think of what my options are in the face of my own imperfections. So thanks, Tracy.

What about you, dear readers? Are you avoiding starting over with something? Did you start over recently? How is it going? I’d love to hear from you.

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