Despite the fact that I've been out of school for many, many years and the fact that students in my school district started their school year at the end of July, the beginning of September still sparks memories of that old back-to-school feeling and the sense of it being a new year.
In fact, this time of year often feels as much like the start of a new year to me as New Years Day does in January.
I used to roll my eyes at myself for this tendency every year when it came around as it seemed like a useless anachronism with no bearing of my current life. After all, there are no new classes, teachers, classmates, or routines to make any changes to my everyday life these days.
And yet, that old feeling of this being the start of a new year inevitably brings with it a sense of hope. I find myself encouraged to set new goals (or re-dedicate myself to old ones). I'm more motivated to take care of things on my to-do list.
It feels every year like another chance to have a fresh start in whatever area of my life where I need one.
It's a reminder that I don't have to let what's come before dictate what happens next. Just because I lost focus on my goal before doesn't mean I can't reach that goal now. Just because I failed before doesn't mean I can't succeed now.
Just because I felt broken and hopeless before doesn't mean that I have to continue to feel that way now.
Each fresh start can be a clean, fresh page for me to start anew without the past limiting me or defining what's possible.
I've come to value these opportunities to embrace a fresh start so much that I actively court them now.
Of course, every day is a fresh start (for that matter, so is every single second), but I'm not always very good at mustering up the enthusiasm to view them that way. I have learned to see each week, each month, and each season as a chance to embrace a fresh start in addition to the new year. In fact, I even use each new moon and each full moon as a chance to reset my focus.
That's a lot of fresh starts, but goodness knows I need them! I get sucked into old ruts and old habits and old thought patterns way too easily, so each chance to refocus is a chance to refocus my efforts and attention on becoming the person I want to be.
It gives me lots of opportunities to set (and re-set) my priorities, to focus (and re-focus) on my goals, to assess my progress (or lack of it), and to adjust my habits to try new options that might better lead toward growth and healing.
It sounds like a lot of work, but it's actually become a fairly quick reset button for me. It's a quick assessment of what is and isn't working, how I'm doing compared to my goals, and a chance to make decisions about what priorities and steps to focus on for the next chunk of time.
I use some of these fresh starts (especially each week and each month) to focus on prioritizing my to-do list to meet my goals. I use others (like new and full moons) to focus on things like attitudes, thought patterns, and habits that affect my progress. And still others (like new seasons and the new year) to do broader re-assessments of my overall progress and prioritizing bigger goals (or adjusting those goals, as needed).
This means that I'm constantly re-adjusting my course, constantly bringing my attention back to what matters, and constantly giving myself freedom from the past to start anew.
I need that many fresh starts to escape the gravitational pull of my old, ingrained ways, and this process has made such a difference for me in dealing with the broken places in my life.
Just like the art of kintsugi constantly reminds me that brokenness doesn't have to be a permanent state, this practice of embracing fresh starts wherever I can find them gives me the tool I need to make that a reality.
How often do you give yourself the gift of a fresh start? How do you use those fresh starts to refocus, re-prioritize, set new goals, or start anew?
How might you make better use of fresh starts in your life to help turbo-charge your own healing and growth?
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