While starting a new chapter in your life can be exciting, you’ll inevitably encounter times when you want to close one of your previous chapters for good.
Whether it’s ending an unhealthy relationship or closing the book on an old business venture, these 10 ways to close a chapter in your life will help you look forward to the future instead of back at your past mistakes.
1. Put yourself first
Even though it’s important to give other people their space, it’s equally important to honor your own needs.
Take some time each day for yourself, whether that means putting all of your energy into your career or taking some quality alone time. If you want to feel fulfilled and happy, don’t allow anyone else to take that away from you.
It’s up to you to make sure that you are cared for. When we put ourselves first, we can better care for others.
2. Write your feelings down
Writing is cathartic. Write down your feelings on paper. Whatever comes to mind, write it all down; you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel afterward. Often, when we close a chapter in our life, we want to forget about it.
If you don’t put pen to paper and write out your feelings (or type them into Word), your feelings are likely to bother you more often—and more intensely—than if you had written them down and then released them from memory.
3. Talk it out with someone you trust
It’s OK to take time off from formal therapy sessions if you are simply not feeling up to it. Sometimes just talking things out with someone you trust can help clear your head and get you back on track again.
If you are close to your friends, don’t be afraid to turn to them for support when necessary. You’ll find that they will always be happy to listen and advise as best they can. Just make sure that you avoid anyone who is negative or who could make matters worse.
When speaking to people about what is going on in your life, remember to use I statements instead of you statements—this makes it easier for people to empathize with you rather than get defensive.
4. Embrace change and goodbyes
Holding on to past memories or people for too long can paralyze you and keep you from moving forward. It’s important to embrace change and recognize that goodbyes are as much a part of life as hellos.
However difficult it may be, sometimes letting go is best for everyone.
Think about your own experiences with closing chapters in your life; what were some of your biggest challenges? How did you overcome them? What advice would you give someone who was struggling with saying goodbye?
5. Reflect on the positive moments
Reflecting on your time at school can be an emotional experience, but focusing on what you accomplished and what you learned—instead of how much work there was or how few friends you had—can help put things into perspective.
Highlighting your best moments also helps remind yourself that times may have been tough, but they’re over and done with now. And while it might not seem like it at first, looking back on those experiences can actually make you feel more confident about your future.
After all, when we reflect on our past mistakes, we learn from them and gain new perspectives that allow us to grow as individuals. We become better prepared for whatever life throws our way next. In other words, don’t dwell on negative feelings; think about what you want to do next instead!
6. Recognize what you’ve learned from this chapter
This may seem like an obvious step, but it’s important to note what you’ve learned. Have you developed new skills? Have you grown more confident? Take a moment to stop and think about how far you’ve come.
Looking back on what made you leave your last job or relationship; have these issues changed for the better or worse? You may not see an obvious answer, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
Try writing down all of your thoughts so that you can look back later and reflect. If possible, ask a close friend or family member to read over your list as well—they might be able to give some insight into why things are no longer working out.
7. Take action instead of letting things happen to you
You can’t plan for everything, but you can prepare yourself to deal with those moments of uncertainty and unexpected change.
Often, we just react—and that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We act like victims and then feel victimized by circumstances that we had no control over anyway.
Instead, ask yourself: What do I need to do now? Then go ahead and do it.
8. Forgive yourself for mistakes made in the past
Make peace with your past and forgive yourself for past mistakes. Holding on to grudges and regrets is not healthy; let it go.
Remember that everyone makes mistakes—you’re not alone. What counts is how you learn from your errors and grow as a result.
Focus on the present and future, and don’t give up on yourself. You are capable of great things!
9. Stay open to other opportunities for happiness
When you’re moving on from something, it can be difficult to maintain an optimistic outlook. You may be thinking that your old life has ended forever and that there are no other ways to pursue happiness.
This couldn’t be further from the truth; not only are you likely leaving some happy memories behind, but there are bound to be new opportunities waiting for you on the horizon.
Embrace these changes for all they have to offer. Even if you’re in mourning over what used to be, remind yourself of what could still come. If anything, you should use your sadness as motivation to move forward with confidence into your future—and never look back.
10. Breakdown if needed, but always keep moving forward
When you close one chapter, there’s always another one to open. Some chapters are more meaningful than others—and some will be painfully difficult to let go of.
No matter what, it’s important to remember that closing one chapter doesn’t mean you can never return.
In fact, sometimes closure is exactly what we need before we can move forward and grow—we just have to allow ourselves permission to end a particular cycle, then create new ones for ourselves.
Endings are never easy, but they’re a natural and essential part of life. After all, you can’t have a beginning without an end.
And finally, stay open to new opportunities for happiness. There’s a lot of beauty in the world, and plenty of chances for you to find your own personal brand of joy—if you’re willing to look for it. So go out there and close that chapter with confidence—it’s time to start writing a new one.