Four years ago, I decided to leave what I had in Barcelona and start a new life in Bristol. I had no friends, contacts or previous experiences in the UK. I had to build everything from scratch.
The experience was challenging but exciting, it gave me new chances to do things differently, and my life turned to new directions that I never expected. Starting over ended up being one the best decisions I ever made.
Now, after several years of traveling, I’m doing the same again. I’m starting over.
Why Starting Over
When I moved to Bristol, I wanted to start over because I felt I needed a change in my life. I was unhappy, and I knew things weren’t going to change unless I took action. I simply wanted to try again.
This time is different. I’m starting over not because I’m unhappy, but because I want to implement everything I learned in the past years.
The last four years I’ve been a nomad, traveling from a place to another seeking new experiences, meeting people from around the world, and living in a minimalistic way.
I learned a ton about myself and how I want to live my life. And now, it’s time to put everything together.
A couple of weeks ago, Elina and I arrived in Malmö, Sweden.
We don’t know anyone here, nor the language or the city. We just completed the first stages of our plan: renting a flat and a studio, and establishing the very basic routines.
Starting Over Is a Tool
Starting from scratch is very exciting and powerful.
Questioning our beliefs, opinions, priorities, goals, habits, and workflows, is one of the best ways to improve ourselves.
This applies to everything, including our work.
Sometimes, after chasing an idea for an illustration, I’m stuck, I’m in a dead-end street. I have to start over with a different approach because I know that if I keep doing the same, I won’t find the idea that I’m looking for.
But other times, I just have to redraw an element of the illustration because I know I can do it better and I know that re-doing that part will improve the final result.
Starting over is a tool for improvement.
Starting over doesn’t necessarily imply a complete reset. Sometimes, it just requires adjusting and implementing some changes on top of what we already have.
When to Start Over
I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. ― Steve Jobs
When I feel that something is not working, I do something similar. I ask myself:
If I could start over, what would I do differently?
If the topic is in my mind for many days (even not having an answer), I know I need to change something.
How to Start Over
Here are some tips that help me when I consider starting over.
- Understand that getting different results require action
Without action, it’s complicated to change anything. The situation won’t change unless you do something about it.
- Be aware of why you want to start over
Knowing the reason for wanting a change is the key to find the real issue. Is it because you don’t like what you are getting? Is it because it doesn’t work? Is it about the process? Is it because you are bored of it?
- Visualize what would you like to have instead
Think about yourself doing things differently. How is it? What would you want to have ideally? Which impact would it make to your days and goals?
- Analyze how you are currently doing it
Write down the entire workflow you are currently following and look for the parts that you dislike, or the processes that can be done in a more straightforward, productive, or smarter way. The change depends entirely on what you are aiming to.
- Research how other people do it
Someone might have already thought about the problem you are trying to solve, and their solution might fit your needs. Consider asking your friends how they deal with that particular topic. You can also find fantastic answers on blogs, podcasts, books or other sources. Just be aware that this is not rocket science and everyone is different. What works for others might not work for you.
- Define a new approach and test it
Theory sometimes is very different than reality. Establish a new system and start testing it as soon as you can. You will quickly see if it improves your previous workflow or not. Learn from that experience and keep improving your system. Trial and error is my favorite approach.
- Be aware of the perfectionism trap
Changing a process that won’t produce a significant impact on the results, and where there is little room for improvement, is counterproductive. I’ve fallen into this trap many times, seeing myself in a loop of constantly improving something and never doing. Burning my time and getting 0 results.
The list of things we can improve is endless. Some things require very little time and effort, and others are challenging but life-changing.
Here is a bunch of examples that I’ve personally reconsidered and might inspire you to question your own systems. If you are interested in my approach of any of these, let me know in the comments, and I will consider writing about them in future articles.
- Daily schedule
What do you want to do with your time? How many hours do you want to work? How is your ideal routine? How is your actual schedule?
Are you happy with your job? Would you like to be doing something else? Has your passion for your job declined, increased or remained the same in the last years?
What was the last thing you have learned? When was it? What would you like to learn if you could have two extra hours per day?
How do you manage your time? Is there anything that makes you anxious and frustrated because the way you have to do it?
How do you handle your financial situation? Do you have a system or you improvise? Do you have savings system? How important is money to you?
- Quality time
How much time do you spend weekly doing something new and exciting?
Starting over can be very challenging and overwhelming, but it can also be seen as a new opportunity to try again from a different perspective or to improve the current situation.
Starting over brings a new chance to do things differently, applying the experience and knowledge previously acquired.
A total reset is not always needed, we can find something small that we know we can do better and improve it.
There is no need to stick into a system or a routine just because it has always been done in that way. It’s up to us to become who we really want to be.
If you could start over, what would you do differently? As always, I would love to hear your comments !
PS: My online course Strategy & Business for Illustrators is now available!