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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

Starting Over

By Carl A. Trapani, MA, MS, LPC; Chippewa Manor Campus Chaplain

Do you ever wish you could just start over? Have a fresh start?

When we were kids, almost all the games we played made an allowance for “do-over’s” or “start-over’s. If you missed, or messed up, all you had to say was, “Wait, that one doesn’t count, I want to do it over.” And all the other kids understood and were okay with it. This leniency even carried over to adulthood. Among friends, it’s common for grownups to allow one another a second shot, or another turn at play. Golfers call them mulligans. A free shot after a poor shot.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to take mulligans in life?

Wouldn’t it be awesome to get a redo every time you make a mistake?

If you mess up, it doesn’t count. You just start over with no consequences.

If you get a speeding ticket – Just tear it up – “Thanks officer, but I’m taking a mulligan.”

If you bounce a check – “Sorry, bank, I’ll take a do-over with no fees”

If you don’t pay your bills on time – “Hey VISA, I’ll take a mulligan with no late fees or interest”

If you don’t pay your taxes – “Sorry IRS, I just didn’t feel like paying them this year, Give me a penalty-free exemption.”

But in reality. . . “Honey, I forgot your birthday (or your anniversary). Can I have a mulligan until next year?” usually doesn’t cut it!

There are no mulligans in professional sports, marriages or in the real world.

In real life, what’s done is done. You can’t say – “Well, I blew it in that marriage, but it doesn’t count.” You can’t say, “I really messed up raising my children, but it doesn’t count.”

It does count. There are no mulligans or do-overs in real life. But thankfully, there are “START-OVERS.”

This may be why so many of us look forward to new years. It’s a chance to start over. We like the idea of a brand-new year that provides a clean slate – with all the dates blank. A new year gives us the chance to make things better; hopefully we won’t make the mistakes we made in the past. It’s important to realize we all make mistakes. But we can learn from them! Unfortunately, a lot of us are slow-learners. We think starting over means doing the same things, in the same ways, somewhere else, with someone else. But that’s just foolish! We need to learn from our mistakes and how not to repeat them. We can start over by changing our thinking and acting differently.

Author Mark Victor Hansen offers this formula for a successful start-over. “If you do things the same way you’ve always done them, you’ll get the same outcomes you’ve always gotten. In order to change your outcomes, you’ve got to do things differently.”

Remember this truth: You had to go through what you went through to learn what you know now! Noted motivational writer James R. Sherman, Ph.D. captures the essence of the power of the start over. “You can’t go back and make a brand-new start my friend, But you can start right now and make a brand-new end.”

As we approach a new year – let’s look for opportunities to reboot. Learn from where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced, and make the most of our opportunities.

Carl Trapani, MA, MS, LPC serves as campus Chaplain at Chippewa Manor. He has more than 50 years of pastoral service and professional counseling experience. For more information please call (715) 723-4437 or email him at

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