How to Press Your Internal Reset Button and Get Unstuck — Lionesses of Africa

by Lori Milner

When your laptop or phone begins to slow down to the point of unbearable speed, a wave of terror takes over you. You have horrifying visions of being without your precious device for a few hours. The good news is the simplest solution is often the most effective. Most likely, once you restart the device, it will work again perfectly. It’s the same with you. No matter what work you do or where you are in your career, you also feel as if your operating system is not functioning at its maximum capacity.

What can you do to press your internal reset button so you can start operating at your optimal level again? Like most things in life, if you want a better answer, ask a better question. Here are seven questions to ask yourself to press reset and reboot yourself.

What are your non-negotiables?

What did you learn from 2020 that you are no longer willing to tolerate? Is it that you refuse not to get a genuine lunch break, eaten on a plate and not hovering over a Tupperware in front of your computer? Whatever it is for you, learn from the experience and begin to block out your calendar with designated slots for lunch or planning time. Label the meeting ‘Touch base with EXCO’ so no one else can question the meeting and get into your diary. After all, you are the executive committee!

How can you become the architect of your calendar rather than the victim of it?

What does an ideal average day look like for you? I intentionally said an average day because you are on track to a great work week if you can get these days right. What time are you waking up, what self-care activities do you enjoy, what time do you start your workday and finish it? How do you spend your evenings?

Now ask yourself how you can become the architect of your calendar rather than the victim of it. If you have spent the last year telling yourself that you will go for a run after work, but when the time comes, you collapse onto the couch with a glass of wine and Netflix because you are exhausted, then it’s time to review this strategy.

If this is the case, figure out how you can do things differently. Perhaps you need to schedule the walk at 11 a.m. or find a way to do your telephonic meetings while walking? If you do not prioritise your day, everyone else is going to.

How can you create strategic pauses?

Recovery is not something that happens only on weekends or when you take some leave. How can you reframe recovery to a strategic pause?

How can you schedule 15–20-minute breaks intentionally in your diary so you can press the reset button before each meeting? If you are crashing in the late afternoon, you are not consistently recharging throughout the day.

The research shows taking a break every 50 minutes boosts productivity and energy. You can take a walk in the garden, stretch or get some water. Inserting strategic pauses is not only about managing your Zoom fatigue but visual fatigue too.

How can you digest what happened in the meeting if you are rushing from one activity to the next? How can you strategically think through the next steps or generate innovative solutions when you are not running at your optimal capacity?

This is different from being distracted as it is planned out in advance. If you are working and then decide to go down the YouTube rabbit hole to escape, this is not recovery as you are riddled with guilt. But when you have a planned distraction, you can enjoy it and get the full benefits.

How can you convert your to-do list into a to-feel list?

How about ditching the to-do list for a to-feel list? Ask yourself, how do I want to feel at the end of each day? Overwhelmed, fatigued, stressed? Or how about grateful, energised and content?

The difference between how you want to feel and how you currently feel lies in your calendar. If you want to feel more relaxed, show me the corresponding mindfulness activity. If you want to feel more positive, show me where you are making time for personal growth?

You can take it further and create a to-be list. Who do you want to become? How do you want to show up for yourself, your team and your loved ones? How do you want them to remember you? Again, the answer lies in the activities you plan in your calendar.

You may be feeling that you have no energy because you are not showing up on the calendar. The fear is that making time for yourself means you will have less space for everything else, but the truth is that self-care is self-leadership. When you are charged from the inside out, you can better serve at the highest levels.

What is your oxygen mask?

I’m sure you know the cliché — in the case of an emergency on an aeroplane, always grab your oxygen mask first before you can help someone else. What’s the equivalent of your oxygen mask? What activity do you need to fill your energy tank instantly? It is often something creative that allows your mind to focus on everything else except work. Is it music, tennis, swimming, riding, painting, baking, scrapbooking, photography? You fill in the blank.

Then go back to the strategic pauses and figure out where to create time for this activity in your day. If daily is not an option, how about dedicating time on a Wednesday from 3:30 p.m.? Something in the middle of the week that you can look forward to? 

Equally, create space for this activity on a weekend so you can begin Monday fully energised. How can you structure pockets of time in the week that you can look forward to? The anticipation of the activity is often more energising than the activity itself.

Do you have a powerful vision of your future self?

A powerful way to press reset is by creating an inspiring vision of your future self. If you can see your future self and your current self as two separate people, you will begin to make decisions in your own best interest. Perhaps you aren’t in the mood for the walk, but in order for the future you to have high levels of vitality, current you needs to suck it up and get moving.

Viewing your future self as a fundamentally different person allows you to think about what they would want.

Some questions to create clarity for your future self include:

  • What does your life look like?

  • What do you look like?

  • What does your environment look like?

  • Who are the main people in your life, and on your team?

  • What types of clients or people are you working with?

  • What is the overall experience you’re having?

  • What does your typical day look like?

  • How much money are you making?

  • What is important to you?

  • Where is your focus?

Remember, your job right now is not to determine how any of this stuff will happen. Your first job is to get clarity on your vision. The more accurate your vision is, the more evident and easy it is to plan your daily, weekly and monthly goals.

Don’t define yourself by your past experiences but instead ask yourself, ‘what are some exciting future experiences I want to have?’ Perhaps it is a travel goal, a relationship goal, something you want to achieve in business, a legacy you want to leave? Think big.

Now that you have clarity on where you want to go, start by taking action. What are three things you can do in the next week to start the process? Perhaps it is investing in new skills? How can you begin today?

Do you have a sense of fulfillment in your work?

Part of planning for your future self is to be clear on what you want and to realise that success without fulfilment is not a true achievement.

Perhaps you have realised the work you are doing now isn’t giving you the fulfilment you are after.

Beth Kempton, the author of Wabi-Sabi, suggests you pose these questions to invite a different kind of career journey:

• What needs to be different by this time next year for me to thrive in my work?

• How would I like to describe myself a year from now?

• How would I like to describe my home a year from now?

• How would I like to describe my work-life a year from now?

• How would I like to describe my finances a year from now?

• What would I like to have created a year from now?

• How would I like to describe my headspace a year from now?

When your work is linked to purpose and contribution, something that is bigger than yourself, you will feel a deep sense of drive, motivation and energy.

Final thoughts.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” ― Anne Lamott

Pressing the restart button does not need to mean a drastic change. It is updating your software for a smoother operating experience. It begins with a simple set of questions:

What are your non-negotiables?

How can you become the architect of your calendar rather than the victim of it?

How can you create strategic pauses?

How can you convert your to-do list into a to-feel list?

What is your oxygen mask?

Do you have a powerful vision of your future self?

Do you have a sense of fulfilment in your work?

What is the question that resonated with you the most and begin there?

What is one small action you can do today to live more congruently with your future self? Equally, what is one action you will stop doing so you can move into alignment with the energy you want to generate?

As author and Strategic coach Dan Sullivan says:

“The only way to make your present better is to make your future bigger”.

Here’s to pressing restart,

Warm wishes


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