Setting the Tone New Beginnings

September 29th, 2011

I like to get up early in the morning; the stillness is contagious and fills me with optimism. Everything feels so possible. The first thing I do before anyone else gets up, before eating breakfast, before opening email accounts or checking social media, is write a short stream of consciousness, the first thing that comes to mind and an affirmation to go with it. It sets an intention for my day. Then I post the same thought to Facebook and the Soulseeds website and get on with the next thing. It’s my early morning ritual. On the rare occasion that I sleep late, it feels like the day never begins properly, I never catch up and feel out of sorts.

One of the most exciting features of new beginnings is that you have the opportunity to set the tone for all that follows. Your first thoughts set the tone for your intentions. The first words spoken set the tone for a whole conversation. Your first actions set the tone for the rest of your day. All these firsts and more are like the candles and soft music that set the tone for romance, or the incense and soft lighting that sets the tone for relaxation. Mood, intention and tone.

Sue Monk Kidd sets the tone for her book The Secret Life of Bees with these opening words,

And when you get down to it, Lily, that is the only purpose grand enough for a human life. Not just to love but to persist in love.

Imagine if we all set the intention to love, not just when it suits us, not just when it feels good, but to persist in love throughout the days and years of our lives. Imagine the tone we would set for the world. There would be a love revolution. Imagine what we would achieve. I read an interview with Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple. He was asked what he liked best about working at Apple in the early days. He said,

Back then it was so exciting. Everything we did we were setting the tone for the world. We were the computer to have in your home. Any project you worked on had value. Today, if you work on 10 different things, one of them might have value.

We can safely say that Apple started out putting their best foot forward and the rest is history. That’s another expression we use for setting the tone of a beginning- starting out on the right foot or putting your best foot forward. That phrase always brings to my mind the orders of my high school football coaches. Always line up with your outside foot set resolutely forward, ready to move straight ahead. It was partly a body language issue. You faced back towards the action, setting a tone and sending a message. As Shakespeare said in King John, “Make haste; the better foot before.”

New beginnings are a privilege, and not to be taken for granted. The opportunity to start over, start new, rewrite the script, build something from the ground up, set the tone for an intention, are all part of the forgiving nature of the universe. Second, third and seven hundredth chances are built into the nature of life. When you truly believe that, you can set about living on purpose and without regrets. You are not alive at this time in history with your unique blend of experience and skill by accident. You are not reading this article at this time in your life by accident. There are things that you still need to express and manifest in the world, and your next thoughts, words and actions will set the tone for the rest of your life and help to create the future for all. Your kindred spirits are others who believe in second chances and fresh starts, and live their lives putting their best foot forward. Imagine the love revolution if more of us lived this way.

Just because you set out with awesome intention, and putting your best foot forward, doesn’t mean you get it right every time. That’s fine. The certainty of imperfection won’t prevent you from moving forward with intention. You will start over as many times as you need to.

New beginnings are an awesome opportunity for renewed authenticity. Even the nervous energy is a gift to channel your best and most urgent efforts. The ground floor is where it all begins, and where you intend to jump in and set the tone for all that follows. Set your best foot forward, and the other is sure to follow.

I will end this series on new beginnings with an inspiration from the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Benjamin grows up backwards; beginning his life as an old man and ending up as a baby. He grows younger with each passing moment. There is a joke that if it had won best picture at the Academy Awards, the Oscar would have been given out at the beginning of the night instead of the end when they normally hand out best picture. My favorite scene in the movie is when his daughter reads a letter Benjamin wrote to her, having never met her father.

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same; there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.

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  1. […] opportunity for renewed authenticity. The second was about using nervous energy to your advantage. The fourth is about setting the tone for your life by putting your best foot […]

  2. […] Part two looks at how to handle nerves. Part three is about joining change at the ground floor. Part four will talk about putting your best foot forward and setting the tone for an awesome […]

  3. What a great reminder! I definitely relate. I love those early morning hours for reflection and quiet time, and I completely agree that it’s never too late to become the person you truly want to be! So glad I found you via Facebook. 🙂

  4. mornings are not really my thing but it’s something worth trying to start the day off with reflection thanks for the insight

  5. Anonymous says:

    thanks this is fantastic article,,,, I regrat delaying vital decisions in my life till this late stage…..

  6. MireilleBR says:

    So true and so difficult at the same time. But not impossible. Tnx!

  7. ian says:

    Glad you did too Angela

  8. Clare says:

    I have read all your articles in this series and you’ve so inspired me…as well as confirmed that my life is on track. Your “Unemployed at last!” comment in your article spoke right to my spirit. For 3 years I’ve believed it was time to leave my job – but because I actually did love what I was doing and because there was security in being employed I made so many excuses not to take the leap and get out of an environment that was actually not good for me at all.

    And then I got a very swift kick up the butt from the universe and actually lost said job….and so for the first time in my adult life I am unemployed and scared to death but so so so excited about the possibilities and adventure that awaits.

    I am learning things about life and about myself that I never thought possible and actually have time to do the important stuff. I’m facing life with renewed vigour and would just encourage those who are in the same situation to really have some great affirmations for yourself so that when the fear sets in you can focus on the good – it really has helped me no end.

    Thanks Ian for your insight. I am following you on twitter and following your blog – both great! 



  9. Pj Zafra says:

    Love this post! Shares a lot of important insights here. New beginnings is definitely a new opportunity for us to make our lives better. Mistakes is also part of the process. We are not perfect individuals. It’s always important to know that. If we’re aiming to be perfect, then expect every stand of our hair falling off… LOL

    Great post here and sure does open the eyes of a lot of people. Keep it up! 😀

  10. ian says:

    hi Clare, nice to hear from you and thanks for sharing your inspired living story. Keep going.

  11. Henny says:

    What a beautiful reflection. Thanks for the rejuvenation!

  12. […] Archive » Setting the Tone New Beginnings Posted by MagMan on 08/10/2011 in Papers | Subscribe – […]

  13. Shelly says:

    Love reading your posts and blogs!  Thanks for reminding me that every day is a new beginning!

  14. […] energy, the excitement of getting in at the ground floor of change and using your beginning to set the tone for all that is still to […]

  15. Hello Ian : I just wanted to say what a great article, great post. I got here from twitter.  Someone linked your post on a tweet and it did not disappoint me once I read it.  It is well written and inspirational.  Thanks for giving me some new thoughts.  Would you consider guest posting on my blog?
    Thomas Gillis
    founder / non-profit  /

  16. ian says:

    sure Thomas. Email me at

  17. @JalalAllen says:

    Thank you, for such a wonderful site Ian. It’s truly inspirational to me. I’ve been working on a blog, and thinking about creating a site as great as what you have here. What’s the best way to get the ball rolling? Thanks again. Your post continue to give me insight to many things, but most importantly, myself.

  18. So inspiring!  Every day is a new beginning, a new life, if you will.  Some days I make the most of it, some days, frankly, I just don’t have the mental energy.  But I love that moment, first thing in the morning, fresh cup of coffee, when so much is possible.  Thanks for sharing your insights.

  19. …great as an inspiration on its own..thanks..

  20. Dear Ian  described in this piece: wishing you Holiday cheers on this Christmas night – what a thoughtful genuine article you have wriiten on this post.  I will bookmark your web blog for sure.  I try and live my life as you described in this peice, sometimes I suceed, sometimes I dont, but I keep trying.  I am a recovering Alcoholic for the past 28 years, and there have been many difficult moments, I have to rteasure each day and re-set the tone for myself in a positive manner so I never fall back into the life I opnce lived ….  so thank you for this inspiring article, all the best to you and yours this Holiday and New Year to come! Thanks again : )  Thomas Gillis / founder – Non-profit /

  21. HelloDearFriend says:

    Another Lovely Inspirational Piece. Thank You Once Again.

  22. Abey says:

    Ian, I seldom take the time to read blogs but I’m delighted at my decision to follow this Twitter link.  There is a great lightness in your presence, a steady optimism that is inspiration and comforting.  Thank you X Abey

  23. Christina says:

    Thank you for this beautiful article Ian.  What really speaks to my heart right now is.”when you get down to it….that is the only purpose grand enough for a human life.  Not just to love but to persist in love’.   Very inspirational.  

  24. […] the excitement of getting in at the ground floor of change and end by using your beginning to set the tone for all that is still to […]

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