Caleb at CalvinXC camp 2016This story is mine

I just drove back from Grand Rapids after dropping my soon-to-be college freshman son off at Calvin College for cross-country camp. Even though Caleb has no plans to come home till his birthday in October Sue and I agreed to tell ourselves we were just dropping him off for cross-country camp and not really college. Why? I think it is our way pretending he is still at home till we drive back up to Grand Rapids next week to “officially” move him into his dorm. Denial sometimes works.

On the three and half hour drive from the suburbs of Illinois to western Michigan Caleb and I chatted the whole time. Of course we talked about running, cross-country and the exciting prospects of his new team. We also talked about college and how he welcomed the academic challenge. And we spent about thirty minutes admiring and critiquing President Obama’s summer Spotify playlist as we listened to it in the background.

It was somewhere near the Saugatuck exit I asked Caleb, “Since you are starting this new chapter in your life are you planning to do anything different?” He paused and then thoughtfully listed several items that he would start anew. I could tell that he had given it some thought. It wasn’t my question that prompted his response; it was going to college that caused him to think about what he wanted to start over.

Starting-Over_spine-3dIt was on the drive back home that I thought about my conversation with Caleb and hit me, “Hold it, we don’t have to wait till we have a crisis to start over. We don’t have to wait until things fall apart. We can proactively start over at any point in your life!”  My experience is that most of us wait for the disaster: loss of job, a divorce or getting dumped, an unexpected illness, the crisis of faith or a financial collapse before we consider starting over.  But it was seeing college as a new stage of life that prompted Caleb to decide he could start over!

In our new book, Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regrets we help people see that regrets are not a place to get stuck, but a prompt to start over. But it was in this car ride with Caleb that I realized that we don’t have to wait for regrets; we can start over anytime we want. The twelve-step movement cleverly reminds us, “You can pick your bottom.” Your bottom doesn’t have to be a disaster, a crisis or a total melt down. We each have the ability to proactively decide to start over. It was the prophet Jeremiah who graciously points out, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) God mercifully offers us the opportunity every morning to start over!

With this lesson from Caleb, the twelve-step movement and the prophet Jeremiah in mind, here are 20 times we can all use to proactively start over…

Stages for Starting Over: Life is often thought of in chronological stages. Each of these stages is an moment when you can proactively start over.

  • Start of junior high
  • Beginning of high school
  • Freshman year of college
  • Start of your 20’s 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 100!

Celebrations for Starting Over: People love to celebrate marker events in our life. And when we celebrate these significant days it is also an opportunity to proactively start over.

  • A birthday
  • Wedding
  • Birth of a child
  • Anniversaries

Events for Starting Over: There are big events that occur over a lifetime that bring significant adjustments. These big events also bring the occasion to proactively start over.

  • New Job
  • Promotion
  • A new neighborhood
  • Attending a new church

Rhythms for Starting Over: Your life is lived out with certain rhythms. These rhythms are days, weeks, seasons and years. With the start of each rhythm is an excuse to proactively start over.

  • Each morning
  • Every Sunday
  • Every new season
  • The New Year

Quiet Times for Starting Over: It is often during a time of solitude and slowing down that we pause long enough to reflect on what needs to change. These quiet times are a space in time for proactively starting over.

  • Prayer
  • Worship Service
  • Retreat day
  • Vacation

G.K. Chesterton put it best when he said, “Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” Don’t wait for a crisis, for life to fall apart or even to hit bottom! Be proactive! You can start over starting today!!

Leave me a comment and I will put your name into a drawing for a FREE ARC (advance reader copy) of Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regret.  Leave me a comment letting me know which of these 20 you have used as an opportunity to start over and tell me how it worked out?

11 comments on “Proactively Starting Over”

  1. Josh Thurkettle Reply

    Wow Dave came across your post through Facebook this morning and it was EXACTLY what God wanted me to hear… “Don’t wait for a collapse to start”
    Thank you!

    1. Staff Dave Ferguson Reply

      It’s one of those things you already know but sometimes it just hits you different. It did me! Good to hear from you Josh! Hope you are well.

  2. Stacey Kinne Reply

    Dave: I loved this, and boy did I need it! Our house feels a bit more empty without Austin-he has always had such a positive impact on our family. I feel ALL of us Kinnes are in some way starting over, finding a new normal without Austin home. Wonderful & heartbreaking, and definitely a starting over period for each of us. Thank you for your insights.

    1. Staff Dave Ferguson Reply

      I told someone the other day — “If Caleb was more of a jerk, I wouldn’t miss him so much!” I bet you feel the same way about Austin. He is a great kid! I can’t wait to see the difference he makes in the world. You and Michael have raised an outstanding young man.

  3. Fritz Trost Reply

    Great advice Dave.
    Love the part about how we are in charge of our bottom low spots in life. We have been given so much in Christ. We need vision to be an overcomer instead of waiting to hit another low. Good stuff.

    1. Staff Dave Ferguson Reply

      And that verse from Lamentations really spoke to me – “…his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Need to wake up to that every day!

  4. Francie Roseen Reply

    I have looked at the season changes as a good time to re-think where I’m at and what I’m doing. I agree that starting over doesn’t have to be about regret or loss, although many times that’s a good time for it. Good thoughts, David. Praying for all of you as you begin this new season of life!! Adult children are a new adventure, but very rewarding!!:D

    1. Staff Dave Ferguson Reply

      Hey Francie! I like to use new seasons as an opportunity to start over too! New years is a the perfect excuse for goal setting and dreaming about the next 12 months. I know you are more laid back about some of this than I am, but here is a post that you might find interesting about how I use the New Year to evaluate what is next and do goal-setting –
      Thanks for your example in my life!

  5. Trish Metz Reply

    Great reminders that Jesus is with us in any season we choose to start over. His mercy allows us to start over any and every day!

  6. Leslie Keefe Reply

    What a great post, Dave. I love how you said you can start over every day. I am thankful his mercies are new every morning! But right now looking for a new job is my “start over.” I am following his prompting for what that might be.

    1. Staff Dave Ferguson Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Leslie! I am also thankful that every morning God offers us mercies to start over. Chapter 10 in our Starting Over book is titled, “My Why” and deals with what we call the “Purpose Regret: ‘I wish I had given my life to a big cause.'” I think it might resonate with some of the things you are feeling. But I’ve already recommended two of my books to you, so I will try to pace myself! 🙂

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