The Overwhelming Pressure of the “Fresh Start”


Okay, seriously.

If I see one more article or read one more thing reminding me that my “once in a lifetime” opportunity to make a “fresh start” is slipping away, I think I am going to scream and fall down.

(Spoiler alert: I have a possible fix…keep reading 😊)

It’s been clear for some time that the pandemic offered a unique chance to rethink things.  To not default to the usual routines in the “after times.”  To create a different, better path forward.

But it also seemed (to me, anyway) as though an entire glorious, languid summer stretched out before us — the pandemic sort-of but not quite over.  A wide-open calendar with few events that could even be penciled in.  (And at this point, way less enthusiasm to sign up for those “virtual” alternatives.)  Plenty of time to think and plan.

Instead, time is lurching forward like my car did when I was first learning to drive a manual transmission.  And still does when I forget to put it in neutral.

And as time lurches forward, I literally feel the pressure starting to build up. 

Here’s the thing.  When we’re stressed, our brains resort to the familiar programming.  We slip back into the well-worn grooves of our old habits.  That’s one reason why behavior change is so crazy difficult.  We start the new behavior, but the old one doesn’t go away.  It just lurks there in the shadows, waiting to welcome back our stressed-out self.

And what is this “reopening” but a big ol’ heapin’ helpin’ of stress?

If we truly want to take advantage of the “once in a lifetime” opportunity, we unfortunately need to accelerate the planning.  We need to take some time now to imagine the different future.  And we need to start living that different future as soon as possible, before the familiar past takes over.

That’s why I’ll be posting and sending out an email every day this week.  Each message will include a brief action step for imagining and planning your “next normal.”

If you don’t get to read them, don’t fret.  I will gather them all of the information into a single PDF and send it out next Sunday.  I may even schedule a 1-hour “planning time” event to set aside time for us to work on the steps together.


By Cynthia Knapp Dlugosz

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