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Sometimes, You Just Have to Start Over

by Dr. Les Wright, Jr.

Wright, Jr., L. (2023, October). Sometimes, You Just Have to Start Over. The Chronicle, vol. 150, p. 3.

If you are from the South, you know that many Cajun recipes start with “First make a roux.” People make most types of Cajun roux with a combination of flour and oil or butter. When making a roux, you have to nurse and nourish it with serious attention to detail, planning, organizing, preparing, and checking the boxes to ensure everything is going in the right direction. You almost have to go into a semi-lucid state of consciousness, stirring for minutes on end and focusing on color, texture, and smell. Then your cell phone rings, someone just posted on Facebook or your favorite team’s game is on. You get distracted and walk away from the process. If you have made a roux before, you know what happens when you do not pay attention. You burn it and then have to do the unthinkable, no matter how much you tried to salvage it—you have to throw it out and start over.

Is there any worse feeling than going back to square one? Yes, there is—going back to square one for a second or third time. Everyone encounters situations where they feel things are not working out as planned. Whether in your personal relationships or career development, you feel stuck and unhappy when things just do not go your way. When this happens, we wonder how to start over and make the best of our new circumstances. Like burnt roux, sometimes you have to acknowledge that you’ve done all you can to salvage a bad situation that showed no signs of improvement, so the logical next step would be to start over at square one. Starting over is not a bad thing; it just means that you are determined to improve, take responsibility, recognize that you made a mistake, and take steps to rectify it.

Many people feel the need to start over at some point, whether starting a new career, forming or ending relationships, or establishing a daily routine that prioritizes self-care. Here are some tips to keep in mind when starting over.

Tip #1 - Start Small

Gradually work your way up. Sometimes, making just one small change will be enough to inspire a brand-new version of yourself. If you try to advance too quickly, your chances of failing increase. Same advice for the roux—start off with a small batch. The small batch will help you reach the color and consistency you are seeking in less time and will reduce your chances of getting distracted before the roux is done.

Tip #2 - Manage Your Expectations

People are impatient. We want results, and we want them now. However, it is important to realize that growing and improving your skills takes time. Pause for a moment and determine what you want in a given situation. Sometimes, you need more time to adapt, which is fine. As for the roux, take your time with stirring, adjusting the temperature as needed. It may take you a while to get there but be patient.

Tip #3 - Eliminate Your Old Habits

Change your environment. If you want to start fresh, eliminate your old habits and replace them with new ones. Do not be afraid to start over. This allows us to carry over the wisdom gained in previous ventures or relationships into our new endeavors. This time, however, you are not starting from scratch—you are starting from experience with a chance to build something better this time. A final tip on your roux. If you mess up and burn it again, it’s OK. Just throw it out, and do not be afraid to start over again and learn from your previous mistakes.

Final Thoughts

It is not easy to start over in life, but by reflecting on your experiences and pinpointing what inspires and motivates you, you can take steps to alter the trajectory of your life. Yes, you may fail from time to time. The key is to only reflect on who you were before the change and then focus on who you want to become after the change. If you have ever thought about restarting your life, now is your chance. Just remember, starting over means you picked yourself up, dusted yourself off, and returned to that path that will take you where you want to go.


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