Women Financial Independence & Freedom | Women Psyche
Edit Content



Life Reboot – The Psychological Challenge of Starting Again

A life reboot sounds like a great opportunity that many would relish – and it is. But it’s damn hard to do!

The concept of “rebooting” can mean something has gone wrong.

If you are looking at the prospect of a life ‘do-over,” then I know a little about what you might be facing.

Whether the situation is due to a relationship breakdown, job loss, health crisis, financial disaster or some other unexpected dilemma, the net result is you probably have not planned to start over.

Here are some of the challenges I observed when faced with the prospect of having to unexpectedly ‘start again.’

Personal Crisis – How I Handled it and You Can Too

Surviving Trauma or Crisis

A major life reboot can be one of your greatest tests. It requires enormous effort.

Effort is not something that you can always summon. It might be near-impossible to achieve if you come from behind the starting blocks.

If you’ve been hurt or are affected by any traumatic experience, gathering the strength needed can be the first hurdle in the way of your new life.

Finding a way to keep your balance when everything changes is extremely difficult. Basic functions can be difficult let alone an entire life restructure!

Your bandwidth is likely to be maxed out.

In a recent situation, I permitted myself to do whatever was realistic and achievable at the time, to get by – whether it meant moving forward, staying still, or going backwards.

Starting again in less-than-ideal circumstances may require any perfectionism you have to disappear fast.

Do your best – that is all you can do sometimes.

In Chapter 4 of Personal Disaster – The Unstickler’s Guide to Handling a Life Crisis, I discuss a very critical concept that assisted me in starting again whilst dealing with current and past traumatic incidents.

I named it ‘Flop Time.’

Flop Time allowed me to exist, survive and eventually arrive at a very contented place.

(And yes, it does occasionally involve, quite literally, flopping yourself on a bed or sofa!).

Who cares what a reboot looks like to others (or ourselves)?

The aim is to get there.

If you can do it in style, then I congratulate you. If you cannot (like me), your efforts and the final ‘result’ may be all the more satisfying when you reach your mountain top in whatever ‘style’ works.

Mental Exhaustion and Fear of Trying Again

Similar to the first point, mental exhaustion can interfere with decision-making.

I’m sure many of you have heard of brain fog. I found it an unacceptable way to go through life.

Hope is often a critical ingredient in successfully facing significant life challenges, and that can disappear in the blink of an eye when your mind is too tired to think.

If you reboot later in life, taking risks may feel unsafe or ‘unnatural’ at this stage of life.

You may have too much to lose by making changes. Fatigue and fear can combine, forming a complex combination that prevents you from even trying.

Fear was an ingredient preventing me from moving forward.

What was I afraid of? Everything! Not surviving, trying and failing, looking ‘silly,’ irrational fears, running out of resources, missing opportunities, letting people down…

When you combine mental fatigue with fear, it can be a discombobulating and heavy load to carry whilst attempting a task such as a total life overhaul.

Lack of Vision for Your Reboot

This one can creep up and cause all sorts of issues.

Your ‘new life’ may look decidedly like the old one without a vision for yourself.

You probably had a great vision at some point – but it’s now attached to the old life!

So now the possibilities may be more, but you never imagined yourself doing things differently.

I realised I had a limited idea of what I could be. My life was relatively predictable. Then, it ALL changed. So now what?

It’s important to note that you might not be able to see yourself at this time. The situation may require a friend or professional who recognises your talent to help you craft a new vision for yourself and your life.

You thought you were retiring to the country to live with some chickens – well, think again!

Now, you will be starting a business and attending international conferences. Who knew?

Physical Health Challenges

Health issues are one of the most challenging parts of life we face.

I sympathise with those who find themselves in this boat.

And if it happens in midlife, let’s not kid ourselves – our bodies are not the same as a few years earlier.

Okay, there are fit people in midlife, but even that won’t stop menopause necessarily!

Ageing joints, vision problems and other fun things can make starting again a little harder than we want.

What I Learned About my Midlife Body, Beauty & Ageing

Or it may be you have received a serious diagnosis, which is going to make everything just that much harder.

Of course, health problems can happen to anyone of any age.

Your strength to survive the ‘personal disaster’ in your life may be the very thing that can carry you forward during a forced reboot.

It’s not going to be easy. And this understatement needs to be understood at the outset.

Expect things to be tough. Expect this to be the fight of your life.

Out of Date Skills

This one hit me hard.

I had a plan for my life. I was executing the plan. And then it suddenly all went away.

There was no backup plan.

Up-to-date skills? It wasn’t even on my radar.

I had much more pressing issues to deal with.

My environment had changed radically. It included many new challenges, and now I was faced with finding a new income source (in a pandemic!).

As I started an urgent search for work, it became apparent – I had no relevant skills anymore.

The income-earning landscape had changed, and I did not know how to join the new scene.

I wish I had thought about worst-case scenarios a little more throughout life, such as considering – “What if my work ended tomorrow?” “What if I’m not an employable prospect anymore?”

So, as I had done many times before, I pivoted, and through luck and a little hard work, a new path emerged from a (very) deep hole.

Learning something new hurt my brain at first. But then it almost became fun! I wanted to learn more and achieve more.

You might need to do an ‘audit’ of your skills at some point. There may be many ‘soft’ skills that can be useful in any industry.

Or you might have skills you have not identified as ‘skills’ but can be monetised (domestic duties, childminding, cooking, arts and crafts, for example).

Your skills may not seem like something you need to worry about in the busy modern life. But it’s become almost essential, especially with the rate of technological advances.

My first new skill during my reboot became almost redundant the minute I learned the ropes!

I had to pivot several times (and will probably have to do it again in the future).

(None of this will be a surprise to the millions of people worldwide who have lost careers in industries like manufacturing and automotive).

Grief and Resentment

This one can certainly put the brakes on a successful life restart.

And if the reboot was ‘forced,’ I don’t blame any of you for feeling this way.

Grief can apply to many circumstances – lost opportunities, loss of the future vision from an earlier time, loss of physical items, loss of support etc.

And persistent feelings of resentment may remain. You might ask why did all this happen to me? I did everything right?

All of this type of thinking is understandable.

However, it’s not about being ‘right’ or ‘good.’ That’s not how things appear to work in this world.

After some time, these thoughts and feelings seem only to hinder you in the present – not change the past.

When the time is right (for you), a new mindset based on your new vision for your life, may help you to move forward.

As mentioned with the ‘Flop Time’ concept earlier, you can have occasional thoughts of resentment so it doesn’t build up to something more. But the overall direction that helped me was to focus on myself and my new life.

After a Life Reboot

Accepting we are where we are is crucial in my experience.

Hoping things don’t change in life (when they almost always do), doesn’t help you handle crises too well.

Sometimes, what looks like a ‘disaster’ is the catalyst for a huge adventure and direction you would not have embarked upon unless the ‘bad’ things happened.

I’m not suggesting some toxic positivity message and seeing rainbows and silver linings everywhere.

But it is about a more open mindset and willingness to see new circumstances as opportunities, however challenging they may seem at first.

Imagine doing whatever you want! Imagine doing the exact opposite of whatever you have done before. Imagine the choice!

It’s all so terribly exciting. Now, if only I could summon the energy to start…

Jennifer Richardson is the co-founder of menpsyche.com and womenpsyche.com and the author the ‘Personal Disaster’ book series.