You have been given this thing called life. And you are free to do whatever you want with it.
Read it again until it sinks in.
Technically, we only have one life. But if you have the courage, the desire, the will to leave everything behind — you may become one of those lucky individuals who are able to live twice. Or three, four, five times.
Because even if you believe in the process of reincarnation, or rebirth, you don’t have to wait until the day you die to start it all over again.
It could be a year from now. A month from now. It could be tomorrow. Yes, it may require a little bit of planning. But you can do it.
And if it sounds “too hard”, it’s probably because your desire to do it isn’t strong enough.
If you have a strong enough desire to leave everything behind and start a new life, not only will it be fairly easy — it’ll get to the point where it’ll be inevitable.
“I want to leave everything behind”
Okay, if you’re reading this page, then chances are you do want to start a new life. And you’ve probably thought about it more than once already.
So before you have a look at the tips below, I want you to be aware of something that’s very important.
Although changing your environment is one of the best things you can do for your growth (and happiness), it won’t automatically fix all your problems.
Leaving everything behind can be a profound life-changing experience. But leaving everything behind as a form of escapism may not work.
Think: what are these things you are trying to escape from?
- If it’s the wrong environment, you should probably go for it. If it’s your own inability to adapt to any environment, think twice.
- If it’s the wrong people, including toxic parents or a toxic relationship, why not. If it’s your own inability to deal with those around you, think twice.
- If it’s to supercharge your overall motivation and enthusiasm for life, that’s great. If you have zero motivation in general and want to move somewhere new to fix it, think twice.
Do you get the point?
Although the vast majority of those who are reading this would benefit from starting a new life (often in ways they couldn’t even predict), it’s important to realize some issues can only be fixed if you look inside, not outside.
I don’t want you to leave everything behind, and then after a while realize it didn’t do much for you and feel disappointed.
You need to be 100 percent honest with yourself and determine whether it’s really your environment that you’re trying to change, or your own personality.
If it’s the latter, then please don’t expect all your issues to magically go away once you’re in a new place.
For example, someone with a negative attitude will have a negative attitude regardless of where they are. I’m sure you’ve met people like that before.
Know that starting a new life (if you have the desire to do so) will almost certainly be one of the best experiences of your life — just don’t expect it to fix issues that can only be fixed by you.
Alright, let’s have a look at the five tips.
Tips to leave everything behind
1. Delete (all) your social profiles
The only exception to this would be if you’re using social media for work (e.g. advertising products or services on your own profiles). Thankfully, this probably doesn’t apply to you.
If you’re serious about leaving everything behind, you must leave your old profiles behind, too.
This is because, essentially, they are a burden. They do nothing but remind you of your past — where you used to live, who you used to be, what you used to do, the people you used to meet.
Often, those who do a social media detox realize and admit that no matter where they moved, no matter how far away they were from their home, social media prevented them from truly “being” there.
It’s like these people were in the new city/country physically, but then social media brought them back to their past, at least in their mind.
Keep in mind, social media isn’t the only way we have to keep in touch with the people that matter to us. It’s not the only option. We may think it is, but it’s not.
2. Evaluate how much you need
This entirely depends on your plan. That is, if you even have one. But I’m sure you won’t just buy a random plane ticket for a random destination — you will at least have a rough idea of what it is that you want to do.
Are you going on a sabbatical for several months to a year, then come back? Do you want to keep the same job, but relocate to a different country? Move somewhere far away and literally change your life?
In some cases, you don’t really need a lot of money. For example, if you do freelance work, and could do that from anywhere (think digital nomads), and your income is pretty much guaranteed, then money won’t be much of an issue.
If your goal is to deliberately stop working for a while, or if you simply don’t want to worry about money while you’re traveling or experiencing a new culture, then it makes all the sense in the world to save up.
The longer you can live without worrying about money, the more freedom you’ll have, the less headaches you’ll have.
Evaluate how much you need and start saving up. Until you have that amount (plus more, ideally, just in case something comes up).
At the same time, don’t use lack of money as an excuse to wait forever. As soon as you have enough, there is no need to keep stacking it up. Time is precious.
3. Embrace minimalism
Remember what I said about all those social profiles? They are a burden, especially if you’ve decided to leave everything behind and start a new life.
Well, the same is true for a lot of your material possessions. Not only do they make it harder to physically move somewhere new (the more stuff you own, the harder it’ll be to travel), they also and most importantly remind you of your past.
You are not the things you own. But it’s very easy to think you are those things. By embracing minimalism, by decluttering and getting rid of anything that’s not essential, you are taking one more step toward starting a new life.
You don’t have to wait until you’ve bought that plane ticket — start now. And as you declutter, you’ll feel liberated, and you’ll find it easier and easier to plan your move.
In his book about minimalism, Fumio Sasaki mentions that, as someone who doesn’t own much, moving only takes him twenty to thirty minutes.
This spring, I moved into a new apartment. I didn’t do any packing beforehand and yet it only took thirty minutes to take everything out of my home, including the time it took to remove the light fixtures and unplug the washing machine.
4. Don’t overthink it
Life won’t last forever. But most importantly, your own desire to leave everything behind and start a new life won’t last forever, either.
Have you saved a certain amount? Do you have enough money to move and start a new life? Have you decided what it is that you’re doing, have you come up with a plan B already?
If so, please don’t overthink it. Overthinking everything, including major life decisions, is one of the easiest ways to self-sabotage and look for reasons as to why you shouldn’t do it.
The time will never be perfect. Your own plan will never be perfect. But you can’t wait forever. Life’s too short (and unpredictable). Just go for it.
And even if starting a new life will be a mistake, it’ll probably be a good one. Yes: a good mistake. Because sometimes mistakes are necessary. Irreplaceable, almost.
Mistakes are experience. Mistakes are life. It’s pretty hard to grow, to learn, to change, to become happier and wiser, if you always get everything right. If you have a strong desire to leave everything behind, don’t overthink it, and trust your gut.
5. Rethink everything (including yourself)
Perhaps you’ve never been the person you’re supposed to be. Perhaps you’ve never had the things you’re supposed to have. Perhaps you’ve never been around the people you are supposed to meet.
The final tip to leave everything behind and start a new life is to literally reimagine yourself and your life.
Before you leave, imagine change. Once you’ve left, embrace change. Welcome change in your life. Enjoy the process of change.
Forget the past. Focus on who you want to become — not so much on who you are, or the person you’ve been so far. That person doesn’t exist anymore anyway.
Often, we cling so hard to the identity we’ve built throughout the years, that it prevents us from becoming new.
And when you start a new life, something miraculous happens: you realize that you can be whoever you want. Without anyone’s approval or encouragement. The decision is yours, and yours alone.
Things you realize once you leave everything behind
- Great is better than good. Meaning: so far, you may have had, overall, a pretty good life. But there may be a great life out there if you have the courage to go for it. You don’t always need to leave everything behind, but it certainly helps.
- The past only exists in your head. Once you immerse yourself in your new life, and all its experiences, you’ll tend to forget the past. You’ll basically be a new person. Almost as if the old you had died. That’s rebirth, and it’s incredibly liberating.
- You don’t know that you don’t know. You might have a more fulfilling life, you might become a new person, you might realize everything you’ve done so far wasn’t that great… if you start a new life. But you don’t know. There’s only one way to find out.
- You don’t need much to be happy. We tend to assume that the more (money, things, friends) we have in our life, the happier we’ll be. But it’s not always true. When you leave everything behind, you’ll find out that having all these things isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to happiness.
I know quite a few people who did this.
People who went on a sabbatical (including me), people who learned a new language in less than a year and moved abroad, people who decided to drastically change their career almost overnight.
None of them regret what they did. Not once. Think about this for a second.
And you may not know anyone who’s done it, personally, but a quick search on the internet will show you endless stories of people — people like you — who left everything behind.
You can even watch their videos, and listen to their own thoughts about it. It may even motivate you to do the same.
If you want to start a new life, and can’t (or don’t want to) do it where you are right now, go for it.
Before it’s too late.