Mike is the founder of The Lost Lot, a practical self-development platform for young adults. He is passionate about the bridge between travel and growth having lived and worked around the world, and wants to use those experiences (and lessons) to help others find their own way. In this HIGB story, he shares how a hard reset changed his life.
How a hard reset helped me find my way in life
Life has a habit of kicking you when you’re down.
It’s almost inevitable that when you’re fighting a bad situation, other issues will arise to add to an already overwhelming scenario. Unfortunately, life follows its own rules and not the ones you’d like it to live by. It will stick the foot in whether you’re expecting it or not, so your response to it is all that matters; are you going to stay on the floor, or fight back?
I’ve had my fair share of down days. Ones where it seems inconceivable that things will get better at all, let alone get to a stage where I’ve designed a life that I’m happy with. Yet, there are decisions I look back on that have been more decisive than most and have been instrumental in getting me to where I am today.
These have been, what I call, my resets in life.
What is a reset in life?
You can break a reset in life down into two; a soft reset and a hard reset.
Think of it like a phone.
A soft reset is where your phone has frozen, things aren’t working the way they’re meant to, so you hold a couple of buttons and it has a short “on/off” reset in life until it’s back to working order. In life, there are times where we’re simply not right. Our heads are muddled, we may be stressed from an overload of stress and information, or we’re low on energy and things aren’t going the way it should. We have our own “soft reset” in life by taking a temporary reboot away, such as taking a holiday.
A hard reset, however, is much different. Your phone seems irreparable. Corrupted data, your fun images have disappeared and connections lost. This mirrors life when we hit a dark tunnel, of which the light seems further away than the end that we know is there. We become anxious, depressed, isolated, scared and we lack any meaning or direction in life. A “soft reset” such as a holiday doesn’t work in this instance, here we need a hard reset. Here, we need a reboot of our core programming and what we want from ourselves.
These moments hit us all differently and in varying stages of our lives. As such, the unpredictable nature of life means we have no idea when we next need a reset. The unique circumstances and personal tolerances to situations means each response will be as unique. What triggers me and then works for me, could be the opposite for you. Yet, somehow, we all know deep down when we need a reset, there’s something intangible informing us of that need. An uneasy unrest remains in the background until it rears its head into an unavoidable personal catastrophe.
How I used a hard reset in life to discover my own path
Allow me to give you one example.
My best friend and I moved to New Zealand, chasing the sunset and the dream of a better life elsewhere. On the surface, our friends were saying “we’re living the dream”. We’d always hear “you’re travelling the world, seeing things others won’t and loving life.” An element of that was true. We’re very positive people, so we made the most of everything that we faced, which made it look like we were sailing through an ideal life.
But, in reality, we weren’t.
On the surface, the Instagram highlight reel papered the cracks, as it so often does. Finding work was impossible. Money was tight (and getting tighter by the day). We had taken a calculated gamble and moved four hours south of our initial safe haven, to where we believed there was work, only for it to turn out there wasn’t any. We were duped in on the promises of hours, only to arrive and realise those promises were as flimsy as our bank accounts. Oh, you can enjoy a beach when things are going well, but it’s hard to remain as upbeat on the same beach when you don’t know where the next paycheck is coming from.
This was not a temporary crisis, but an existential one as well. What am I doing here? Have I made a terrible decision moving away from my comfort bubble? I have no real skills, am I so far behind everyone else in? What am I doing in life? What can only be described as a quarter-life crisis meltdown had begun, which made me forget about the more immediate worry of not being able to afford rent and food. The idyllic setting was in juxtaposition to our headspace, which made it seem more a cruel prod than something to enjoy.
The 8th of November was a hard reset moment.
There was no holiday or soft reset from this situation. No help to call in. We chose to get into this fight, both our current predicament and in life, so it was up to us to climb off the canvas.
I’ll lay out the six-point strategy we stumbled upon and the journey we went through to discover it. A journey which allowed us to not only fight back but end up having the most incredible adventure, both literally and figuratively.
Using the reset well
1. Acknowledge the situation
We grabbed our laptops and went to the only place that had free and stable WiFi, Burger King (a riveting location for any life-changing story, I know).
We sat down, got some $1 onion rings (which was both lunch and dinner for the day), and talked about our situation. Lines such as “What a mess”, “Not what we expected” and “There’s more to life than this” were thrown about. We could’ve gone back to the hostel and finished our remaining beers, making the situation tomorrow’s problem as alcohol so often does (which, although another story, is a soft reset itself).
But you’ve got to be honest in that moment. Acknowledge the situation isn’t what you want, whatever it may be. For us, being broke, homeless and without direction sucked.
2. Write your dream/ideal life down
After a solid hour of moaning about how unfair life currently was, we decided to start taking some responsibility.
We chose this path, so we can work our way out, in the same way we had entangled ourselves in. We started at the very highest level:
“what do you want to do in life?” “what’s the perfect scenario in 10 years?” Even we noted how lofty these questions were in our current predicament.
Being someone who loves to travel, who’s ambitious and also quite a creative free spirit, I discussed how I’d love to have my own travel and media business. One where I was both financially free and living the lifestyle I craved. I was visualising where I wanted to be, but by writing it down, it created a firm link between fantasy and reality.
Write your dreams and your ideal life down, and it begins to provide an anchor to the direction. Our situation remained, but the anxiousness eased, the fog became a little less dense and a very faint path forward cleared.
3. Set goals
After living in the clouds for an hour, we came back down to earth and begun to reverse engineer our way back up.
If my own travel and media business was the goal, how would I get there? Did I have the experience to call on in the different areas I needed? Was my background sufficient enough in travel, media and business?
From my lofty dream, I drew three lines down to each of the above areas and judged myself on each. These were still “ideals”, but in bite-sized chunks, they were far more achievable.
The one thing I had the most experience in, and the area where I had a genuine passion, was travel. I felt I could add a lot to travel business and if I tweaked my CV and cover letter, I could present myself in a better light to an employer in the industry. Simultaneously, I began with free online courses to top up my knowledge in other areas. Before I knew it, I was on a trajectory towards my dream, albeit a very slow one, whilst also beginning to find a way out of my current predicament.
So set goals and give yourself some short term targets to reach. Whilst the day began in a haze of anxious uncertainty, a few hours of solid work began to shape us, and our future.
4. Dig deep and take action to survive, but look forward
Despite our renewed optimism, we still had 100 bucks to our name, nowhere booked to stay and no job to call ours.
The dream was there, the goals were there, but we understood they meant nothing if we closed the laptops and never looked at them again. Without moving from our seats, we changed our CV’s, re-wrote cover letters and began researching every tiny detail of the industries we wanted to find ourselves in.
Before leaving the comfort of Burger King (I never thought I’d write that sentence), we applied for about 100 jobs in relevant sectors. Tourists, locals, backpackers and even wildlife wandered in over the hours, but us two English guys would still be found hunched over our laptops, buried into the momentum we had built up.
But we didn’t allow any expressions of grandeur to creep in. We understood that we’d have to work bloody hard and start from the bottom. As long as we were in the right industry, it’s all a positive experience. We didn’t get ahead of ourselves, we needed to survive first and were aware that we would not be walking into a CEO position, but we were ready for whatever role may come up.
Dig deep to ensure you can pay the bills, but have excitement for what’s coming. After a productive day, and what can only be described as a world record stint for customers staying within a Burger King, we peeled ourselves off those matte red seats and towards the hostel to make the most of our final booked night. We were far from sorted, but our reset meant that we were optimistic that tomorrow would be a better day.
5. Reassess and reappoint
We began to see interview offers drip in over the next few days, which showed us we were on the right track. Optimism is a funny thing. In the same way that life kicks you when you’re down, it can also provide shoots of hope, which begin to snowball your optimism, and miraculously, the universe delivers on your positive energy.
We realised that being in a small tourist town meant opportunity wasn’t available in abundance, so we gambled and booked a bus up to the major city of Auckland. This was definitely a gamble, as it was a lot of our remaining budget, with the hostel we booked for two nights taking up the rest. If these interviews didn’t work, to this day I still have no idea what we would’ve done, but we would’ve found a way, I’m sure.
To our relief, they did, and that first pay packet that came in felt like finding a glittering oasis in the deep heat of the Saharan desert. This wasn’t a luxury, but a necessity (although like any lost soul who finds an oasis in a desert, we certainly enjoyed a drink from it).
Inch by inch, day by day, we worked up. Affording. Surviving. Then thriving. Today, we’re much further along that trajectory, but sometimes you have to stop and reassess. To make sure you’re on the right path means retracing your steps and seeing from where you came from.
The Hard Reset Changed My Life
That one hard reset on the 8th of November changed everything. I worked and toughed it out until I secured myself a role within a fantastic travel company. I worked up to a Tour Account Manager, which provided me and my friend the opportunity to save and explore the absolute best this world has to offer. The Instagram photos no longer papered over the cracks but were representative of the mind space we found ourselves in. I would not be where I’m at today, in a job I love with a side venture I’m passionate about if it wasn’t for my hard reset in life.
It shouldn’t always need rock bottom to reposition your life, yet more often than not, it’s the raw emotional trigger we need.
It arises because you’re sick of the past or present, but you control the future. Using a reset in life doesn’t have to be a show and tell to the world. I only share this story to show you that resets come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve had darker days and tougher challenges, but they remain ‘for my eyes only’. Externally, some may seem to have it good, but behind the hype and highlight reels, there’s a very real struggle going on.
People don’t need to know about your journey or struggle if you don’t want them to. Work on them privately and smash your goals, proving to yourself more than anyone that you can make it work. But if you choose to, remember that once you commit; commit. Do not 50% this. It’s your life and you can not delegate out self-development.
Everyone else has their own challenges to work on, so use a reset in life and begin to work on yours.