There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.
— Buddha

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Beginning Anew: A Fail-Proof Strategy for Progress

Beginning Anew: A Fail-Proof Strategy for Progress

Failure. It sucks. It’s a wild rollercoaster of emotions where you begin inflated with great intentions and a motivation for success only to end up with the wind knocked out of you, deflated like a sad helium balloon floating bare inches above the floor days after the party is long-forgotten.

Life happens. We react, we feel things, we struggle.

This is human. It’s normal.

It’s not unique to your condition to make mistakes, to not always behave in a way that is aligned with your own sense of idealism, let alone anybody else’s.  The question isn’t in whether you fail, but in how you respond to these situations.

Is it with a brutal assault of negative self talk?

  • god, I’m such a bad mom/wife/friend/artist/student/neighbor…
  • I can’t believe I tried to start my own business, I should have known it wouldn’t work…
  • I’m always screwing things up no matter what I do, I should just stop trying…

Or is it with kindness?

  • Well that didn’t work out like I planned, but it was worth trying…
  • Now I’ll have to do it again, at least I know how to do it better…
  • That was not the response I was hoping for, but I can see that it’s not really about me…

No matter what happens, you have a choice in how you react to unsuccessful efforts:

To see it as reinforcement of an ongoing cycle of failure in which you are destined to remain permanently because that’s just the way you’re made. This view frames situations in a singular way, where there was seemingly only one opportunity to succeed and if failure occurred then there is no further possibility of triumph ever again.


To see it as an opportunity or a challenge in which your curiosity is piqued and your desire to try again or do something new is activated. This view frames situations as a process that could involve infinite iterations, and any single setback is temporary and not indicative of overall failure.

Which camp do you usually fall in when you make a mistake?

Beginning anew is reminder that we can always start fresh. That nothing is final or permanent. The past doesn’t have to dictate our future or impose limitations because we can always strive to do better, to try again, to be different, to see with a new perspective.

Just as we start the day with the rising sun every morning, and take a new breath every few seconds, we always have the choice to set a new intention for our ourselves, and to practice that intention with kindness and non-judgment toward ourselves.

The past is done, that’s true. You can’t go back and unsay something hurtful, undo something thoughtless, or instantly transform the circumstances you spent years creating for yourself. But you CAN ALWAYS start again. Say something loving today, do something mindful today, and take the first step in creating the life you want.

I associate this with the root chakra, because there is an anchoring here, a recalibration of physical and spiritual presence in what is here and now. It is grounding, because you're consciously deciding to start fresh, to grow new roots, and to move forward from a more solid awareness.

Begin anew, right here in this moment.

Try again.

Life is a process, and you’re actually doing pretty great.

This post was inspired by a passage in this beautiful book by Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Beginning anew means being determined not to repeat the negative things we have done in the past. A new era begins when we commit ourselves to living in mindfulness. When we vow to ourselves “I am determined not to behave as I did in the past,” transformation occurs immediately.”

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