There are times when we need to reset our phones or other devices to their factory defaults because something isn’t working properly. We try to troubleshoot the issues, but they hardly seem to work. When it’s evident that they aren’t working, we reset them to their factory settings hoping that fixes things. Luckily, it seems to work most of the time.
Likewise, there are times when we need to reset our lives and shake things up in a big way when making small changes simply won’t do. Maybe we are not getting the outcomes we seek because we keep doing the same things and expecting different results. Maybe we simply go through the motions of living each day without creating the space required to think things through. We get so busy in our lives that we don’t stop to think about them. Maybe we keep doing the same things repeatedly without thinking about why we are doing them. At some point, we stop caring about things, we live passively, and we “check out”. We live in denial. We escape because it’s easier than confronting reality. We take “external” vacations hoping to solve our “internal” problems, but the problem is never out there.
Let me share a personal example. I remember when my partner walked out on me not too long ago. I was distraught and depressed for a while, as I couldn’t fathom living without them. I felt aimless. This was someone I loved a lot, but never got that love in return. I became emotionally dependent on them and forgot that no relationship could exist one-sided. The only regret I had was starting the relationship to begin with. For whatever reason, this seemed like the perfect time to do a hard reset in my life. I realized things happened for the best and it was time for me to move on as well. I decided I was no longer going to think about the past. I didn’t want to bring that baggage into my current relationships. I needed to move on, and so I did. In many ways, it was a fresh beginning for me. Come to think of it, I believe things happen to us for the right reasons at the right time in our lives so we can learn from them. This made me think maybe it’s not uncommon for people to take a hard look at their lives and to begin anew after experiencing a crisis. Most people are grateful for going through difficult painful experiences in hindsight. It’s then they think about things that really matter to them.
Before I could move on with my life, I needed to let go of the past relationship. You see, you can’t drive forward while looking in the rear-view mirror. When you make it through a difficult experience and manage to come out at the other end having survived, it’s time to take a hard look at your life. That means having a purpose (something you believe in that is bigger than yourself and drives you) and re-evaluating your life in the context of things that really matter to you. For me, it was thinking about the person I wanted to be and the contribution I wanted to make in the world — reflecting on the work I wanted to do, things I wanted to learn, and the people who mattered to me.
For you, it could be taking stock of things you’re doing right now. Maybe look at different areas of your life and pick an area that would have the most impact right now. This might give you the confidence you need, which might then spiral into other areas of your life. Whatever you do, work on one area of your life at a time while keeping all other things in your life constant. The last thing you want to do is go a mile wide and an inch deep.
Another way to think about resetting could be starting with physical decluttering of the things you have so you can truly make space for what matters most. One way to do that is to use fewer things (but to use the heck out of them all of the time): find boxes and put everything you have in them. Then, only take out those things you actually need. After a while, you can give away the stuff that remains in the box as it’s likely you won’t be using it anytime soon. In my parents’ home, we had a whole set of utensils we weren’t using for a while, so we gave them away. We have a rule now: whatever is not used in the last three months must go.
Some of my friends take a 10-day meditation camp every now and then. Others I know do an annual review of their lives in December to reflect on the current year and to plan for things in the new year, which seems more deliberate.
There are times you need to reset because you get stuck. We need to acknowledge the way we are doing things simply isn’t working. This is when you take stock of things and you reset with the idea that starting things anew may be better this time. Of course, hope doesn’t solve anything by itself. You have to take action and do things differently. Otherwise, it would be crazy to keep doing the same things and expecting different results.