Around this time of year – in fact, many times in the year – there’s a little mental exercise I like to do, which I call “reboot”. Basically, I take everything in my life – committments, obligations, goals, attachments – and try to momentarily drop them all, in my mind. It’s kind of like rebooting a computer. I try to switch everything off and imagine that I was starting all over again, from scratch.
What I find useful about this exercise is, by letting everything go, I can start again from scratch and think about where I’d like to be, which commitments I’d like to have, which goals I’d like to pursue and which are achievable. This helps to set me up better for the next period of time, whether that’s the next year or the next few moments.
I’ve found this useful on both a macro and a micro level.
On a micro level, I might find that I’m working on task A, and this leads to a smaller sub-task B, which leads to a smaller sub-task C and so on, so that I get bogged down in a very deep level of complexity. When this happens, I try to notice it happening, stop for a bit and think again about what I’m trying to achieve, and whether all of those details are really necessary. By doing this, I might be able to see where I could cut out some unnecessary detail or subtly switch focus to a more essential sub-task.
On a macro level, I might be thinking about the next year. What are my plans, work goals, commitments I’ve made and obligations or attachments I have to things, people, places, etc. But suppose I was starting again from scratch. Imagine I had just arrived on this planet! What would I want to do? Some things would stay in the list, even after the reboot. If I dropped everything, I would still want to do those things. So I can re-affirm my commitment to them. Other things might be not so essential. I went down a path of pursuing them, but that path kind of wore itself out. So I decide I no longer need to continue down that path, and I can think about dropping those things.
As you can see rebooting can be a useful exercise both in a short-term context (working on a piece of code or design, planning some detail of your life, purchasing decisions, etc) and a long-term context (planning your year, thinking about career, relationships, etc).
Have a happy new year everyone. Enjoy!