I have blood streaming down my arm and into my jacket. My hands are jammed into the crack above my head, my legs are stretched out as wide as I can manage with my feet pressing against small divots on the granite wall, I am sweating bullets, and breathing so rapidly I fear that I may pass out if I don’t gather myself and calm down. The temperature is below freezing and I feel like I am in a Finnish sauna. As I look down in panic at the lack of gear placed for security, I look up in bewilderment—how the fuck is this going to work and what in god’s name am I supposed to do now?
Up until this point, this remote, unnamed mountain deep in the Alaska Range has been fairly tame and routine (as routine as these things go at least). Not anymore. Now, I feel totally fucked.
The reality is: I am not. But damned if I don’t feel that way and my mind is fully hijacked and convinced that I am.
Beyond the technical demands that need to be addressed, I really just need a convincing and honest reset: where am I, what have I come to do, and why have I come to do it. I have completely lost perspective, and the next 100 feet are beyond daunting, but a hard reset in perspective: where am I on this wall, what are my resources available, what skills do I, and the team have, and what needs to be addressed immediately and in the following moments. That’s it.
And I have been here before. A lot. In fact, I am here frequently throughout the year as busyness, overwhelm, and a sense of burden seep into my daily life as a father, partner, and business owner.
The hard reset is the antidote to overwhelm, a sincere and true panacea to a world that inundates us with a never ending barrage of demands, decisions, and messages.
How to do a Hard Reset on Your Life
It’s easy for life to become messy—for us to feel a sense of stuckness, lack of motivation, or an overall dullness. For some, the vibrancy of New Year’s Day can offer a jumpstart, but if you’ve already struggled with a lack of momentum or direction, the start of the year can bring about anxiety and added pressure.
Maybe the tools and habits that worked before no longer do or your to-do list has become so extensive you can’t remember a time that you weren’t focused on checking off boxes. Whatever the case may be, it’s normal. We all go through it. I know I have over the years. It’s important to know that nothing is wrong, it won’t last forever, and, most importantly, the changes you need are not big. In fact, they might be incredibly small.
Try this exercise:
Start with a Self Check-in
Set aside :20 minutes with a timer, turn off the digital interruptions, give yourself 20 minutes of attention.
With an open page in front of you, take a close look at your calendar for this week and next week. With brutal honesty and decisiveness, go through each day and make a note if the tasks, meetings, and events you are engaged in energize or deplete you. With no space for ‘maybe’ – it’s yes or no.
Next, what is missing in your agenda? Are you actually exercising enough? Is there space to date your partner? Do you have time and energy to parent in a way that has meaning and presence?
Next, grab your notebook (if you’ve followed me for any length of time you’ll know to have one) and set a timer for ten minutes and answer the following questions:
- What is my current routine? What does my daily schedule look like and what are my responsibilities?
- How do I feel in the morning? When does my energy start to dip in the afternoon? How do I end the day?
- What things do I look forward to everyday? What things do I dread?
The purpose of this exercise is to identify what tasks are sucking energy, where you can reevaluate and reprioritize, and how you can balance fortifying tasks and activities with ones that usually drain you. Don’t overthink here, this isn’t for rationalizing or for intellectualizing. Once you’ve finished, spend time with your answers. What are some immediate insights?
Look for Small Shifts
Every adventurer wants the big moments—the tallest peak, the next challenge, the most extreme experience—but I can tell you some of the most rewarding and expansive moments are subtle. How does this translate to your daily routine? You don’t need to quit your job, end your relationship, or move to a new country to find the inner shift you’re looking for—in fact, I advise against it. That may be the conclusion you come to after some time, but for now, think small.
Considering your answers from the previous exercise, ask yourself these questions:
- Where do I wish I had more time? If that block of time opened up, how would I use it? For example, maybe you wish you had more time in the mornings. If you did, you’d be better able to meditate, exercise, or journal.
- Where/when do you find you lose the most energy? Is it going from work directly into parenting mode? Is it during your lunch break?
- Finally, what activities and habits have you sacrificed for daily work or family responsibilities?
The purpose of these questions is to help you identify where you can make small adjustments, one week at a time.
- If you wish you had more time in the morning for meditation, try setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier than normal (even 15 minutes earlier can work at first!) for a week.
- If you’re losing energy between work and parenting, take a walk around the block in between getting home and heading into the house. Try this for a week.
- If you’ve let go of eating well, exercising, or even having fun, focus on planning one healthy meal, one yoga class, or one fun activity per week.
Adding in these small shifts for one week can pay off in much larger dividends. Even if they end up not being the long-term solution, I can almost guarantee they will lead to what does work for you long-term.
Now Add a Shake-Up
You’ve assessed your daily life, you’ve identified a few small shifts that you can implement, now it’s time to bring in that sense of adventure. Adventure can be so many different things but one universal quality is the experience of the unknown. The exhilaration of existing outside of your comfort zone, shaking up the familiar. You can do this, right now, today, in a myriad of ways and encourage you to do it at least once everyday. The inspiration it can awaken will definitely surprise you! Here are some of my favorites:
- Taking a walk in your neighborhood without your phone, without music, without a smartwatch. Unplug and plug-in to the present moment – no agenda. Bring your wallet in the event something pulls you in one direction or another.
- Invite your partner on a date that is for them, a gift for them, what they love, what lights them up, do some research, surprise them, show up in service without expectation of getting anything in return.
- Don’t order what you want at dinner. Tell the wait staff that you are tired from making so many decisions, you trust them since they know the kitchen so well, ask them to bring you the best dish this evening – be open to others perspective and service, practice receiving the expertise of another.
It’s funny where we keep needless habits and it’s incredible what happens when we consciously shake them up. Try doing one new thing every day for a week, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Track your progress, take note of new insights, and then do it all again next week.
These processes may seem small but they are powerful and create profound shifts. If you find yourself wanting to go deeper and want support and accountability, click here to learn about my three-month Voxer Coaching program.