in life

The Thing About Starting Over

It happens time and time again. It’s probably happened to you…

We graduate from high-school and we tell ourselves that we need a change, we need to get away from it all and go far, far away to ‘start over’.

We graduate from college and again, tell ourselves it’s time for a fresh start – that we’ve been in the same routine for 21 years and it’s time to finally ¬†‘start over’.

We’re at a crummy job – working for the man and dreading every single day, or maybe we don’t even dislike what we do, we just get bored – and something inside tells us it’s time to ‘start over’.

The thing about “starting over”

We, as a society, as humans, are obsessed with starting over. We crave new beginnings, we relish in our moments of resolution.

The day you say you’re going to move away. The day you say you’re going to start running and being healthy. The day you say you’re done with an unhealthy relationship or a bad work environment.

But the thing about starting over is, it doesn’t have to be this monumental event, it doesn’t have to happen all at once, and, once you make you’re decision, you aren’t automatically stuck with it.

What holds you back?

I think (very) often what holds us back is fear. Fear of change, and more specifically, fear of making that resolution, starting over, and realizing that maybe it wasn’t the best decision, that maybe you want to go back to the way things were.

You quit your job to pursue starting your own company, but after a while realize that the corporate world wasn’t as evil as you made it out to be.

You break up with your long-term boyfriend/girlfriend and after dating around, realize that you were truly in love with that person.

You move far away to start a new life, then realize that everything you wanted was where you came from.

We’re afraid to hear “I told you so” - we’re afraid to be labeled as “wrong” – and, whether it’s true or not, we don’t want to come across to other’s that we’ve “given up”.

The beauty of coming full circle

But here’s the thing – when you come full circle, you’re still starting over, and odds are, you’re coming back with (so) much more than you left with. More life experience, more failures, more successes.

I moved back to Nashville last week after spending only a year in Chicago. A lot of people asked me “why”? I have my reasons, the tangible one’s that serve as a worthy enough explanation to those who ask – but the bigger picture is that this is where I, and we (my wife and I) want to be.

I wasn’t wrong for quitting my job, moving, any of that. It was the best thing I could have ever done. I learned more about success and failure, being an entrepreneur, and the importance of family in one year than I have in my entire life. I came back to Nashville in an entirely different (personal and professional) situation than how I left – it’s being in the place I spent nearly my entire life, but looking at it through a completely different¬†lens.

Don’t be afraid to move away, try new things, start over.

But also don’t hesitate to ‘go back’ – you’re not selling out or settling by trying something new, realizing it isn’t quite for you, and re-appreciating what you had all along

What positive examples do you have of a time you ‘started over’ only to eventually go back to where things started?

Add Your Voice



  1. The key of starting over: wisdom is cumulative. New contexts let you create a better scenario than the one you had before from scratch, because you already know what works and what doesn’t. By repeating this process over and over, you come closer to the best possible situation each time.

  2. Truth. Wisdom IS cumulative – and the only way you learn is by trying, failing, trying again, failing again, rinse and repeat. I hesitate to even use the word failing – and believe that the only way you fail is by NOT trying. The only way you learn what works, and what doesn’t, is by trying. And like you said, it’s not about figuring it all out at once, but rather, inching closer to that ‘best possible situation’. Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes it’ll take a lifetime.

  3. Sometimes, it is an more emotional “starting over”, you leave everything and everyone you grew up with for a very long time, and one day realize that you are now ready to “go full circle”, and you get back in touch with everyone you left back home.
    Being far away brought me a lot of opportunities, and enabled me to be who I am and coming back allows me to embrace where I come from.

  4. This post definitely hits home right now (no pun intended). While I have a strong urge to explore the rest of the country and I am willing to go anywhere for a job, I’ve began thinking about this topic a lot recently after being isolated from family and friends for the past year. You truly don’t appreciate how much they mean to you until you’ve spent extended periods of time away from them. I still have a lot of thinking left to do as I look for my next opportunity, thanks for the timely post Matt.

  5. Thank you for this post, Matt. You continuously type the things I’m thinking! :) The part that really hit close to home was when you said, “You move far away to start a new life, then realize that everything you wanted was where you came from.” As I increasingly grew unhappy in New York and thought about leaving I kept telling myself that I failed. That I was quitting. It took awhile for me to kick that voice out of my head. I didn’t fail. On the contrary, I succeeded, because I took the gamble and made the jump to explore new opportunities. Sure, it didn’t work out, but as Carlos mentions below, “wisdom is cumulative.” My trip to NY helped me realize where my heart was, where my interests lie, and that life is a constant journey.

    I’m grateful for my “full circle” opportunity and I’m glad your circle brought you to Chicago. :)


  6. A year ago, I came back to the job that I had left three years ago in order to explore other options and work in my field. While it was hard to fathom returning, while a part of me believed that it was going to be exactly the same, I forgot one important element: I had changed. That decision has changed my life for the better — I’m doing something I absolutely love with the ability now to use my creative talents and the skillset I’d acquired while away; it has enabled me to meet some new, remarkable people, and it’s given me a chance to really take that necessary step in following the dream of owning my own house.

    A year ago, when I first thought of going back, I wondered if it would be the same. But nothing is ever the same, and you never know where this second chance will lead. Sometimes, going back to the start just means a second chance at a better beginning.

    Best of luck in Nashville, Matt!

  7. My whole life I’ve been “starting over”…. until I moved to Austin, TX. Then, starting over took on a whole new form and meaning. In Austin, I have found my home. But after years of moving following my career as a professional musician and later marketing petroleum and renewable fuels, I finally figured out that starting over is an internal process; not an external process dependent on my environment. It helps tremendously being in a place you enjoy and with people you love, but really it has everything to do with your perspective. Life is all your own perception – your decision.

    I love starting over. I live for the quest of “how much better can I become?” and “what do I define as ‘better’?”

    This is a GREAT post Matt. And congrats on settling in back home in Nashville!

  8. Yes, yes! Megan has it right, too. I quit my job to go to another company where everything seemed great – on paper. Shorter commute, more money, more opportunity. But it was terrible, and I knew two weeks in that it was NOT a fit for who I was and what I wanted to do. I had left my previous role on very good terms, and friends urged me to go back, but it felt like “quitting” and “failure.” I kept telling myself I had made my bed, now I had to lie in it. But after 6 weeks, I finally started listening to my gut, called my old boss, and came back to my old company, but in a new role that challenged me and paid better. If I hadn’t stepped away, I never would have realized how good the original company and team were, nor would I have crystalized what I wanted to do. It was a very rough few months, but coming full circle is one of the best decisions I ever made.

    Thanks for writing this, Matt, and for managing to nail it so well. Good luck back home in Nashville!

  9. Matt,

    I think your point about coming full circle is really the key takeaway from this post. One of the things I found is that when I finished graduate school I was in the same exact situation as I was after undergrad: in a recession, broke and struggling to find a job. The difference was that it was almost 10 years later and all that experience allowed me to start over but look at it all through a different lens. Instead of being a victim, I saw opportunity and the rest as they say is history. Good luck with your next journey. Really interested to see what happens next for you.

  10. Matt I love your posts. This is absolutely how I feel, and what I needed to read. I hope you and Lierin do well back in Nashville. I’ll be sure to call you whenever I come back in town.

  11. I love this post. The thing is, though – how can we get those feelings of appreciating what we’ve had all along if we don’t go on the journey in the first place?

    Food for thought. I don’t even think it’s possible. The journey is necessary.

  12. Thanks for this post Matt! We have been going through similar situations.

    I moved back to Atlanta last week after living and working in Birmingham, AL for the past year. After graduating for college I moved to Birmingham for a great opportunity, which lead to another incredible career experience.

    A few months ago I realized that I loved my new home, but my old home was “calling my name.” I love the city of Birmingham, the friendships I made there and the career experience that I gained in just a year… moving there was the best thing I could have ever done.

    After a wonderful year in Birmingham, a few incredible opportunities presented themselves in Atlanta. A part of me thought I was “giving up” on my life in Birmingham, but that is not true in the least bit. After being back in Atlanta for a week and finishing the second day of my new job… I know Atlanta is the right place for me right now.

    I wrote a short post about my move in my personal blog:

    Thanks again!

  13. Agreed 100% Anyes – I think at some point everyone goes through that period of wanting to be detached, but, more often than not, our ‘new beginnings’ bring us right back to where we started from.

  14. I think folks our age unanimously are going through a lot of changes – this is the time in our life when it’s easier to jump ship, hop off the wagon – and – for the sake of this discussion, hop back on again. Sometimes hopping back ON is MUCH more difficult than hopping off, for reasons I shared above – but it’s important to come to terms with the fact that coming full circle, going ‘back to where it all began’ doesn’t mean your giving up and accepting defeat – it’s just another step in that whole ‘figuring things out’ process!

  15. Thank you for coming by and commenting, Chris. If it feels right, I’d still strongly encourage you to get out there and try new things – I hope that this post doesn’t come across as striking fear in those who do want to get out there and experience totally different environments. But, on the same token, you can really appreciate a place, job, relationship, whatever in a new way and through a different lens.

    If you ever need to bounce ideas around, don’t hesitate to give me a shout.

  16. I thought about your situation and how much it paralleled my own (almost at the same exact time) when I wrote this post. You’ve been exactly where I’ve been – and have come full circle. Now that you’re back in Chicago, with a new and exciting job in front of you, doesn’t it feel so much different than when you left?

    I am literally one block from where I went to college – I’m hanging out at all the coffee shops and bars I did before I left and moved to Chicago, but somehow everything is different. It doesn’t feel like I fell back into a rhythm, instead, it’s like I’m experiencing a whole new place in an entirely different perspective. A lot of it has to do with the idea that wisdom is cumulative – I’ve learned a lot about myself, and my attitude is drastically different from what it was 12 months ago…

    Cheers to you – we’ve been through a lot of similar things this past year, and clearly we’ve both ended up that much stronger and wiser because of it.

  17. Thanks for sharing your story, Crysta. It’s great to hear so many people have come full circle and have made that full-transition coming out that much better on the other side.

    Always great to have you here – hope things are well back in Chicago. Miss you guys!

  18. Matterz? I can’t say that I get that one too much…”Chevy” has always kind of stuck (surprise, surprise). NYC and MTV has changed the Jenny McCoy I knew and loved…kidding, kidding.

    Hope things are great up in NYC – I’ll be there in mid-October for a few days kickin’ it in Times Square (for a conference). Look me up.

  19. Thanks, Emily. Means a lot to have you say that. If you’re ever back in Nashville, give us a shout – it’s crazy being back here on Belmont Boulevard – but it honestly feels SO much different (wish I could explain it better than that). Hope you’re doing great!

  20. I don’t disagree with you at all – and, as I responded in another comment above, I hope this post doesn’t come across as telling everyone to stay put and not try new things – the journey IS necessary – and I wouldn’t at all be where I am today if I hadn’t taken some risks and gone through what I did over the past year and a half – those experiences have made me into who I am today, and thus, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Equally important to remember is that NOTHING is permanent. Nashville is my home for now – and it’s where I see myself for some time, but if we decide another place is a better fit, that option is always open. The same can be said for almost any situation you may be in.

    Thanks for the comment!

  21. I think you hit the nail on the head, Susan. Nothing is ever the same. I’m experiencing that as we speak – in the same place I spent the first 23 years of my life but somehow, things are drastically different (in a very good way). Funny how a little life experience and perspective can shine a new light…

  22. I think that the minute you stop living with the desire to learn, to grow, to get better, and to be at your best…you’re not really living. I’m one of those people that can never be stagnant – my wife tells me I have “life ADD” because I always have to be doing something – it’s a blessing and a curse, but mostly a blessing. I know that life IS short, and that I’m not going to be around forever – so, with that understanding, I want to get the most I can our of my life pursuits – and am continuously trying to figure out how I can redefine what it means to be at my best.

    Thanks for the comment, Betty. I’m really looking forward to sitting down and chatting in a couple weeks!

  23. Well said Srini – and thank you for the vote of confidence. Good things are ahead, undoubtedly for both of us. I’m looking forward to sitting down and catching up on everything soon (when are we making that happen)?

  24. I’m thrilled to hear that things are going well in ATL for you, Katherine. Keep me posted on how things develop and, before too long, hopefully I’ll get myself down there or you’ll get yourself passing through Nashville!

  25. Hey Matt…

    It’s been a while since I posted but that’s because I too underwent a huge change in my life by quitting my job and going to Australia for a year to do a working-holiday gig but unfortunately I’ve been having a terrible time adjusting.

    This post makes me feel a lot better. I’ve been struggling with how to deal with the fact that I might not be cut out to do a working holiday (as it turns out, the instability of the whole situation does not suit me) and that I might have to go home much earlier than expected without feeling like I failed somehow by not making it through the 10 months I initially committed.

    I still haven’t decided if I’m going to leave early or keep at it but I’m reassured that there are others who feel that going back isn’t necessarily the wrong decision.

    It’s hard to articulate just exactly what I’m feeling but all I can say is that this post reassured me and gave me perspective on a subject that has been rubbing me the wrong way for weeks now.


  26. Matt, this post hits close to home. I know exactly what you’re talking about as there is always a fear or being wrong. Starting over? There’s too much of that going on. Glad you and your wife moved back to a place that you two love.

  27. Mandy, it’s great to hear from you! I’m glad this post hit home and, for what it’s worth, if you ever feel like venting or just bouncing your ideas off someone, I’m more than happy to listen so don’t hesitate to contact me!

  28. So as somebody that is finding this out earlier (aka still in college… and unhappy) what the hell am i supposed to do when every time i put myself out there it gets thrown back in my face. Every time i go with my gut or what i think i should do, it ends up putting me in an absolutely horrible position. I’m so afraid to change again and make another wrong move. What do I do? Are people ever happy where they are? Or is it just me that never seems to be?

  29. Hi Lauren –

    I’m sorry that things haven’t been working out for you. Without knowing you personally, or the situation you’re in, it’s hard to say why things may or may not be working. But, with that being said, your ‘gut’ and your instinct is usually the best thing to follow. It’s not always going to lead you in the right direction, but more often than not, it’s the best thing you have going for you.

    To your question, Yes, people are and can be ‘happy where they are’ – but I think there is ALWAYS room for growth and improvement.

    If you ever want to talk about what’s going on and/or just need someone to listen, please don’t hesitate to contact me –

  30. I came across your blog today as I was searching whether I should use Disqus for my blog. I read a few of your posts and realized that we’re going through very similar situations (got laid off, got another job and quit, etc.) and also your point of view on things are very close to mine as well and that could simply because we have gone through similar situations as mentioned before.

    Besides all that, I want to say your blog really inspires me or gives me the encourage. I’m one of those people like you wrote in your post, who’s afraid of being “wrong” or “failure”. Even though I know deep inside, I’m an entrepreneur and adventurer. I was scared. I was held back by “I told you so”, “What if it doesn’t work out?”, etc. Even though I know 9-5 (or whatever hours corporate people work now) is not for me. I know I don’t like corporate politics and the “it’s all about me, not the product or the company” culture, and yet I stuck with a corporate job for almost a decade. I have learned a lot and I shouldn’t complain. Now, you can say I’m back to where I begin or wanted to begin – to be an entrepreneur. I want to build something that I really believe in. I’m not afraid to start over or fail (not 100%, but still working on it).

    Thanks again for this wonderful blog!

  31. thanks a lot matt. i guess you are right, its just hard when your pride takes so many continuous hits all of a sudden.
    thanks for the input and your blog is great!

  32. No problem at all, Lauren. I’ve been there and back and there again. Don’t let the positive go get em attitude hear fool you – we all have moments where we’re down thinking that EVERYTHING and EVERYONE is against us.

    Seriously, if you ever need or want to chat, I’m more than happy to. Cheers!

  33. I did it in January. I graduated college in December 2009, had no job and decided to move to Boston from Lubbock, Texas. Four months later, homesick and worn out, I took a job back in Lubbock. Although my time in Boston was short, and taking the job I was offered was the right decision, a huge part of me was ashamed and felt as though I sold out and gave up on my dreams by coming back to a town I hated. And made clear to everyone I knew I hated.

    After a summer back here I’m able to say that this was the right choice. And this isn’t where I want to end up, but I feel like in the long run a year or two of my life to save money isn’t going to kill me. I liked this post.

  34. Great insight. For me, what holds me back is this thought: “what if I’m overvalued where I am now? Can I handle the truth?” In the corporate world we call these “velvet handcuffs”. In reality, just another kind of bondage, but more insidious.