“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.” Albert Einstein
Although each person and situation has been unique, a certain question runs central throughout each of their lives’ story: “How can I ensure the next time won’t be like last time?”
From my own experiences and from walking with others I have learned a few key lessons on “starting over.” The difference between the ones who have made a clean start and the ones that haven’t is the ability to grasp the following lessons (among many others).
#1. The common denominator in all our mistakes is….us. Wherever we go, there we are. Denis Waitley, author and speaker on personal success once stated, “A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.”
#2. We learn from our mistakes but the majority of the time it is only in the areas that matter least: games, sports, texting, cooking, etc… We repeat our mistakes in areas that matter most: finances, relationships, employment, etc… Just because we “know better” doesn’t mean we will “do better.” It takes self-control and a plan to learn from our mistakes.
#3. Experience does NOT make us wiser. Experience makes you older, poorer, angrier, hurt, tired…it does not make you wiser. Only evaluated experience makes you wiser. The most combat effective units I served with faithfully and ruthlessly conducted after-action discussions. The key to becoming a better fighting force was not simply the experience, but what we learned from the experience and how we could apply that knowledge to future experiences. The same goes with our life experiences.
The key lesson with starting over is there is hope….believe it or not, you are in GOOD COMPANY. Scripture is full of stories about people who were forced to start all over.
Moses: Got in fight, killed a guy, went away, came back, saved Israel.
David: Anointed as king, kicked out, came back, became king.
Paul: Was a Pharisee, wanted to get rid of Christians, blinded by God, came back and served God.
So to answer the question, “How can I ensure the next time won’t be like last time?” – Hit the pause button. Stop the wash-rinse-repeat cycle. Get off the merry-go-round of life. Invite God into your circumstance and let Him help you learn from and take responsibility for your mistakes, clearly evaluate your experiences, and truly start over.