Thoughts

Starting Over

Written by Magoz
7 min read 32.9k views 16 comments

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.

Some Examples

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?
  • Work
    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?
  • Learning
    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?
  • Productivity
    How do you manage your time? Is there anything that makes you anxious and frustrated because the way you have to do it?
  • Money
    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?

Conclusions

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!

Magoz

Nomadic illustrator. Thinker. Seeker.

16 comments

  1. K
    Katinka Bukh

    I understand the need of relocation. Its refreshing and you get to learn a lot about yourself. I moved to NYC from Copenhagen when I was 40 to do fashion art direction and after that I moved to Trinidad & Tobago, where I worked in branding for a local very creative studio.
    After a while I think I needed to settle, so we (my french husband and I) are back in Copenhagen now 10 years later. Its is a great city.
    If I was younger I would go again for sure, but I am really enjoying my friends here and the settled life that fx allows us to have a cabin at the sea. To build something up and have lasting relations also has a strong value.
    But I will always want to travel and meet new people and my friends abroad are still there.

    • What a fantastic journey, Katinka!
      I agree. I think that traveling is about expanding the mind and getting new experiences. Learning, having fun, and stepping out of the comfort zone. I really love traveling!
      The caveat of being constantly traveling without having a “base” is that it’s harder to focus and the resources are limited if you want to build something (a project, a product, a family, etc). It’s not impossible, but far more difficult.

      I haven’t been in Copenhagen yet, but I’m looking forward to doing it soon :-)

  2. Hi, Magoz. I totally understand your need to establish yourself somewhere, at least for a time. Somehow, I had the same need some years ago, as I’m—quite—older than you :-) Some decisions implied drastic changes and not always taking the easiest route, precisely. But I personally don’t regret anything. You’ll lose certain things, but you will gain others. Changes are logical and necessary in our life.

    I suspect this is particularly important: “Be aware of why you want to start over”. The whys are always revealing! Some people just don’t think too much about them, but most of the keys are probably there. Taking actions once you answer the right questions is the really hard part! I admire your will and readiness to make clear decisions that are simply in tune with your needs.

    Thanks and see you soon!

    • I guess that’s life, isn’t it? A series of different stages that come with different motivations, goals, rules, and changes.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Raúl! Hope to see you soon!

  3. mi opinión…. tener una actitud proactiva en el día a día puede hacer cambiar muchas cosas y las oportunidades se multiplican, sin acción nada se mueve. También considero que el análisis y estructuración de un problema para uno mismo es muy peligroso, puede generar miedos que bloquean esta proactividad, hay que utilizar más la intuición.

    te sigo! ; )

    • Totalmente de acuerdo, Alex. Lo que comentas del análisis vs la intuición es muy interesante. Yo me guio prácticamente siempre por la intuición en primera instancia, aunque luego necesito de la reflexión para seguir adelante. Las utilizo en modo combo porque me permite seguir mis instintos pero ser racional al mismo tiempo (aunque parezca una contradicción).

      ¡Un saludo!

  4. Well said! I have a question regarding your previous nomad life, how did you handle moving continuously with your material and tools? Or do you only use a laptop for your work?

  5. Its always a pleasure to share your moves and insights. Let’s see how it goes, im sure it will be cool, cold and exciting! jejeje. We’ll talk soon anyway for that interview after im back from my travelling.

    Big hug from India!
    io!

  6. ¡Hola Magoz! Creo que el sitio escogido es magnífico. Seguro que tras tantas horas de movimiento una parada vendrá muy bien. Estoy de acuerdo en que la acción es un pilar fundamental para que todo fluya. Siguiendo las palabras de Carlos Castaneda “hay que cambiar el punto de encaje y todo cambiará para mejor”. Me alegra leerte .Mucha suerte en esta nueva etapa y un fuerte abrazo.

  7. S
    Sara Kaiyala

    Starting over can be scary, but so energizing at the same time. I had been a project manager for 13 years, when (back in 2013) I decided I was at the end of my rope with being a PM. I have always had a passion for graphic design, so I took the leap, followed my heart and started over. I’ve been a freelance designer now for 3 years and I’ve never been happier and more fulfilled. I’ll never forget this piece of advice I received during the time I was deciding if I had the courage to take the plunge: “The more risk you take, the happier you will be.” It sounds so simple, yet it felt terrifying at the time. This person was spot on, at least in my case.

    Thank you for sharing your journey, and I admire you for starting over again! It takes courage!

    • Congrats for being brave! It’s not easy to switch gears when we are so used to something, but that’s the key to improvement. Knowing (or sensing) when it’s time to change and being courageous enough to pull the trigger.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sara!

  8. Thank you for this piece!
    I went through your list and feel a little more confident that freelancing is the way to go for me. My big concern is that I just feel like these days – especially in the US – finding yourself in financial struggle can really impact your life and freedom. To the point where freelancing in a creative job is not really feasible. I’m also not from the US and my partner is which makes it more complicated.
    I’m curious if you ever felt the need to settle and if so, how and where would you do it?

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