“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
We all need second chances. This isn’t a perfect world. We’re not perfect people. I’m probably on my 1000th second chance right now and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Because even though I’ve failed a lot, it means I’ve tried a lot too.
We rarely get things right the first time. Almost every major accomplishment in a person’s life starts with the decision to try again and again – to get up after every failed attempt and give it another shot.
The only difference between an opportunity and an obstacle is attitude. Getting a second chance in life is about giving yourself the opportunity to grow beyond your past failures. It’s about positively adjusting your attitude toward future possibilities. Here’s how:
1. Let go of the past.
What’s done is done. When life throws us nasty curveballs it typically doesn’t make any sense to us, and our natural emotional reaction might be to get extremely upset and scream obscenities at the top of our lungs. But how does this help our dilemma? Obviously, it doesn’t.
The smartest, and oftentimes hardest, thing we can do in these kinds of situations is to be more tempered in our reactions. To want to scream obscenities, but to wiser and more disciplined than that. To remember that emotional rage only makes matters worse. And to remember that tragedies are rarely as bad as they seem, and even when they are, they give us an opportunity to grow stronger.
Every difficult moment in our lives is accompanied by an opportunity for personal growth and creativity. But in order to attain this growth and creativity, we must first learn to let go of the past. We must recognize that difficulties pass like everything else in life. And once they pass, all we’re left with are our unique experiences and the lessons required to make a better attempt next time.
2. Identify the lesson.
Everything is a life lesson. Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, etc. They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’
Never forget to acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go your way. If you don’t get a job you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting. And the lesson you just learned is the first step towards it.
3. Lose the negative attitude.
Negative thinking creates negative results. Positive thinking creates positive results. Period.
Every one of the other suggestions in this article is irrelevant if your mind is stuck in the gutter. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. The mind must believe it can do something before it is capable of actually doing it. For some practical positive thinking guidance I recommend reading The Power of Positive Thinking.
4. Accept accountability for your current situation.
Either you take accountability for your life or someone else will. And when they do, you’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead of a pioneer of your own.
You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life. And no, it won’t always be easy. Every person has a stack of obstacles in front of them. You must take accountability for your situation and overcome these obstacles. Choosing not to is giving up.
5. Focus on the things you can change.
Some forces are out of your control. The best thing you can do is do the best with what’s in front of you with the resources you do have access to.
Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation. Invest your energy in the things you can change.
6. Figure out what you really want.
You’ll be running on a hamster wheel forever if you never decide where you want to go. Figure out what’s meaningful to you so you can be who you were born to be.
Some of us were born to be musicians – to communicate intricate thoughts and rousing feelings with the strings of a guitar. Some of us were born to be poets – to touch people’s hearts with exquisite prose. Some of us were born to be entrepreneurs – to create growth and opportunity where others saw rubbish. And still, some of us were born to be or do whatever it is, specifically, that moves you.
Don’t quit just because you didn’t get it right on your first shot. And don’t waste your life fulfilling someone else’s dreams and desires. You must follow your intuition and make a decision to never give up on who you are capable of becoming.
7. Eliminate the non-essential.
First, identify the essential – the things in your life that matter most to you. Then eliminate the fluff. This drastically simplifies things and leaves you with a clean slate – a fresh, solid foundation to build upon without needless interferences. This process works with any aspect of your life – work projects, relationships, general to-do lists, etc.
Remember, you can’t accomplish anything if you’re trying to accomplish everything. Concentrate on the essential. Get rid of the rest. The Joy of Less is a great read on this topic.
8. Be very specific.
When you set new goals for yourself, try to be as specific as possible. “I want to lose twenty pounds” is a goal you can aim to achieve. “I want to lose weight” is not. Knowing the specific measurements of what you want to achieve is the only way you will ever get to the end result you desire.
Also, be specific with your actions too. “I will exercise” is not actionable. It’s far too vague. “I will take a 30 minute jog every weekday at 6PM” is something you can actually do – something you can build a routine around – something you can measure.
9. Concentrate on DOING instead of NOT DOING.
“Don’t think about eating that chocolate donut!” What are you thinking about now? Eating that chocolate donut, right? When you concentrate on not thinking about something, you end up thinking about it.
The same philosophy holds true when it comes to breaking our bad habits. By relentlessly trying not to do something, we end up thinking about it so much that we subconsciously provoke ourselves to cheat – to do the exact thing we are trying not to do.
Instead of concentrating on eliminating bad habits, concentrate on creating good habits (that just happen to replace the bad ones). For instance, if you’re trying to eliminate snacking on junk food, you might create a new mental habit like this: “At 3PM each day, about the time I’m usually ready for a snack, I will eat five whole wheat crackers.” After a few weeks or months of concentrating on this good habit it will become part of your routine. You’ll start doing the right thing without even thinking about it.
10. Create a daily routine.
It’s so simple, but creating a daily routine for yourself can change your life. The most productive routines, I’ve found, come at the start and end of the day – both your workday and your day in general. That means, develop a routine for when you wake up, for when you first start working, for when you finish your work, and for the hour or two before you go to sleep.
Doing so will help you start each day on point, and end each day in a way that prepares you for tomorrow. It will help you focus on the important stuff, instead of the distractions that keep popping up. And most importantly, it will help you make steady progress – which is what second chances are all about.
11. Maintain self-control and work on it for real.
The harder you work the luckier you will become. Stop waiting around for things to work out. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us actually work on it. By “working on it,” I mean truly devoting oneself to the end result. The rest of us never act on our decision. Or, at best, we pretend to act on it by putting forth an uninspired, half-assed effort.
If you want a real second chance, you’ve got to be willing to give it all you got. No slacking off! This means you have to strengthen and maintain your self-control. The best way I’ve found to do this is to take one small bite of the elephant at a time. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they arise. For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, come up with a list of healthy snacks you can eat when you get the craving for snacks. It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier. And that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on bigger challenges.
Remember, life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Achieving your dreams can be a lot of work, even the second time around. Be ready for it. Read Getting Things Done for some practical guidance in this arena.
12. Forget about impressing people.
So many people buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know. Or some variation thereof…
Don’t be one of these people. It’s a waste of time. And it’s probably one of the reasons you need a second chance in the first place.
Just keep doing what you know is right. And if it doesn’t work, adjust your approach and try again. You’ll get there eventually.
Photo by: Shoothead
John Sherry says
What I love about the focus here Marc is that the 2nd chance you talk about is the one we give ourselves because many of the 12 revolve around what we can do, choose, view, or not repeat. WE control the whole shebang. It’s about moving on from the inside out to give ourselves another shot at living our best life as our best person. Top notch!
marc van der Linden says
After “problem” there will be “no problem” 🙂
Second chances are things we get every day in life. After every mistake there is an opportunity to do it again in a better way based on what we learned from the previous experience.
These practical tips are great for learning to deal with mistakes.
Thanks for sharing!
This is great! Thanks.
Fred Tracy says
Great article, I like number nine a lot.
I think the old quote, “what you resist, persists”, is applicable here. If you continually feed energy into something that you don’t want, it is going to get same thing – namely, what you didn’t want.
It makes much more sense to focus on what you DO want. That way your heart and thoughts are aligned with good, rather than bad.
OMG, no 12 is so me… it took me awhile to realize that this is what makes me go after the wrong things. No wonder I need so many second chances.
Thanks for this.
Sharing is caring 🙂
Perfect timing once again Marc. Keep up the awesome work..you rock!
I really love your approach towards having a routine at the start and the end of the day. At least if we could allocate few hours we could surely make our day productive. This advice has come at the right time for me when as I am trying to make positive routines in my life. I shall try this approach. Thanks.
Forgetting the past means YOUR stronger than what You used to be. Forgetting the past is the quickest way to creating a New and better future.
Wonderful post, thumbs up!
As I read this blog it felt as if I was talking to someone who was answering questions I hadn’t yet built up the courage to ask. This advice is priceless. Thanks.
Wisconsin Fire says
“Achieving your dreams can be a lot of work, even the second time around.”
Truer words have never been written.
Galen Pearl says
Great post. #10 and #11 are especially important to me right now. I recently retired and so I’ve enjoyed some time to just be and to drift through my days seeing where my attention takes me. But I do have things I want to do, and I feel myself gearing up to impose some structure. And routines!
As always, thanks for the positive feedback and added insight, everyone.
Hope you all are making this week great.
Joe Viviano says
Number 7 really rings true. Philosopher and martial artist Bruce Lee once said, “Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.” Absolutely beautiful.
Connie Zimmerman says
Brilliant words of wisdom! Worthy of a bathroom mirror spotlight…Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Priyanka Chauhan says
Beautiful article…its really important to let go of the past and let life bring to you what you really deserve.
A lot of this rings true in my own life. Especially letting go of the past and identifying what the lesson from that experience, be it a good or bad one, is.
Thank you for this. I think attitude is key to how you behave, how you react and if you will take the second chance
This site has been such an inspiration. With so many people in the world having to do drastic 180’s just to exist, having some really clear tips is so helpful. I hope a lot of people read this entry.
Really nice. There’s always a chance for a new beginning.
I just love your blog! Every post. This one was a recent favorite of mine.
Mr. Pallanza says
I love this blog. It invigorates me every time I read something. It’s all so magical, it give out effects. I’m happy reading all this, and I’ll be sharing this to other people about it.
Godspeed, and keep it up!
Continue to make the world a round place to live in.
Thanks for reminding us that each one of us always has the choice to take a second chance on life. I really needed to read something like this in my life right now… thanks.
Deana Norman says
I came here to find some inspiration for my morning Facebook status and what I found was far more important than that. You’ve not only offered me words to live by today…but you’ve given me perspective and belief that if I continue to put myself out there in this positive way, I’ll become MORE of me than I even thought I could be. With tear-filled eyes, I read everything here this morning and although it’s a wealth of information, especially at 9am, when I’m busy offering encouragement to others, I see how much I need encouragement myself sometimes. Thank you. 🙂
I needed this. I recently screwed up my life in a very big way by showing up to my job drunk. Got fired. It’s almost impossible to find another job in this economy and I was feeling like just giving up on life. This article has really helped me to re-focus and not give up. I don’t know if my situation will ever get better but I can take responsibilty for what I’ve done and try to move forward. Thanks
Thank you so much! 🙂 I found this article so helpful. Such great tips.
This has to be one of the best blog sites I have ever come across. Truely inspiring in every single aspect, I really hope that people can take these words to heart. If so I can see them changing the world!
Julie Takase says
#7 – Let Go! You can start over anywhere. I packed my things and let the world take me everywhere. I traveled till I found the answers.
Thanks a ton. Just few minutes ago I read this article I decided to give MY LIFE A “SECOND”, after 5 months of a war between my heart and brain. I don’t know whether my decision will show me good or bad days but at the end I AM FEELING STRONGER because I feel to give Second Chance is never easy. Thank you I am feeling very positive.:)
Bathroom Minister says
Life is full of second changes thanks for sharing. “Every difficult moment in our lives is accompanied by an opportunity for personal growth and creativity”, this was the part that stuck out to me the most. In 2007 I was in a gas fire leaving second and third degree burns on my body. Instead of asking “why me?” I use writing to help me get through the pain. By tapping into the creativity of my brain I was able to write a book about all the things I had been through and all the second chances I have had in this life.
Sharon Reid says
I work on this stuff all the time and I have to say, this is one of the best, most clear and succint articles on the subject I have read. I am going to be reading your other articles as well. It can be so difficult to stay on track, but I really believe that giving ourselves those second chances, picking ourselves up every time we fall, is the way to success. I think of it like when a child is learning to walk. They put all their energy into getting back up and no energy into the falling down. They don’t sit there and cry when they fall. They just keep trying and before they know it, they’re running.
Thank you vey much for this, I have been struggling so much in life I’m 23 and been depressed about life and where I need to be to be happy I’ve tried getting help from doctors and from “friends” but there’s still one question I’m stuck on and don’t seem to be able to find it myself, I’ve lost all ambition and I can’t figure out what’s truly important in life anymore how can I remember what i use to wish to be?! I’ve been living in the clouds for so long I’ve forgot who I actually am
thanks a lot for this article, it’s just one of the best.
It seems that the second chance you’re talking about is all about what we can do, what we believe we can do; because what we do now shapes our future. what you do will enfluence your future
Millions thank you for sharing something that people will never get by only crying and sighing a lot .. now, i know and understand.. you list all of my weaknesses with the solution . I cannot understand how much I’m feeling happy for realizing my mistakes . Thank you again!