Hit Reboot On Your Life

It could be your job, your relationship or a goal you’ve set. Clicking restart on your life can be daunting, but it doesn’t make you a quitter. It could be the best decision you’ve ever made.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
It could be your job, your relationship or a goal you’ve set. Clicking restart on your life can be daunting, but it doesn’t make you a quitter. It could be the best decision you’ve ever made.
Corbis/Click Photos
Corbis/Click Photos

Chances are, at some point in your twenties you’ll fi nd yourself stuck in a situation that just isn’t going anywhere. So you try your best to make it work, tell yourself to stop complaining and hope for the best. But perhaps now is just the time to “reboot” your goals. Sometimes, you have to know when to pull the pin on the choices you’ve made and admit they may not be for you.

Why then, is this something that can strike fear into the bravest of people? According to clinical psychologist Dr Glen Hosking, “Admitting that something we thought we wanted isn’t making us happy is difficult because it’s so confronting. It could elicit a feeling of ‘failure’ in some people.” If you’re reading this and nodding, you’re already over the first hurdle. To negotiate the emotional journey of bowing out gracefully, we asked Jane Lowder, founder of Max Coaching, for advice.

"I’m worried about what people will think.”

IT HAPPENED TO ME “When I got into accounting at one of Australia’s top universities, I was so happy,” explains Rhiannon, 25. “I worked my butt off in school and was in a rush for my career to start. I even managed to score an internship at one of the big four finance firms after university. I was living my dream. A few months into the job, though, I was bored. I didn’t want to talk to my parents, I couldn’t talk to my friends who all said they envied my job. Over the next 18 months,

I went to work every day waiting for it to get better. And it didn’t. Then one night over cocktails, I just blurted out to my friends, “I hate my job!” I felt an instant sense of relief. I waited for them to judge me and when they didn’t, I started to wonder why it took me so long to confide in them. The next week, I quit. It was hard, but I knew that my happiness was more important.”

BREAKING IT DOWN Discovering that your choices aren’t what you thought they would be is a hard pill to swallow. Especially if you’ve spent the last few months (years) talking about this new job or your potential new partner. But Jane is pretty black and white on this. “Really, who cares?,” she says. “The reality is, people don’t think about us and what we do with our lives as much as we think they do, so don’t fret over others’ often-imagined opinions.”

HOW YOU CAN REBOOT If you know you have friends and family who won’t be on your side, Jane recommends not asking for their opinion at all. Instead, share your brave new plans with friends who are going to be supportive but honest. “It’s your life, and ultimately your decision alone. Keeping other people happy about your decisions is not a healthy priority,” she says.

"I’m too scared to start again.”

IT HAPPENED TO ME “I saw a job ad for a PR account director at a global firm in Dubai,” says Jordan, 26. “I was stoked when I got it. I imagined a lifestyle of designer clothes and weekends poolside. But as soon as I arrived, I knew it was all wrong. An hour after I got there, I was working. I was given low-end administrative and paperwork for clients and was working 12- to 15-hour days. I waited six months and was still working six days a week, but also struggling to make ends meet. I had no time for a social life, so I didn’t have a support network. I thought about moving home, but the idea of moving everything back again, looking for a new house and a new job scared me. Instead, I lasted a year.

Afterwards, when I quit and was in the airport, I broke down in tears. I was so upset I’d put myself through all of that when I could’ve just quit. Now I look back and can hardly recognise myself. I wish I’d had the strength to do what was actually right for me, rather than what I thought was right for my career and reputation.”

BREAKING IT DOWN It’s common to realise that achieving your big ambition isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the thought of starting all over again can be daunting. “I hear ya,” says Jane. “Change is scary! Most people find the process pretty confronting, largely because we fear what we do not know. Best way to take the sting out of that particular tail? Get to know it!”

HOW YOU CAN REBOOT If you are worried about starting again, start researching, recommends Jane. Whether it’s moving to another country or switching to a new job, find out what you can accomplish and confirm prior to leaving your current situation. “Before you take the plunge, dip your toes into the water of your new thing,” she advises. “Do a short course, read about it, volunteer and talk to people to learn more. This familiarity will breed confidence, and before you know it, that big step into the unknown will feel like a walk in the park.” I don’t want to admit I can’t do it.”

IT HAPPENED TO ME “A close friend and I started a wellness blog. It was something we were passionate about and we both had free time outside our jobs,” explains Marina, 26. “At first, it was great. We blogged about our green smoothies and our yoga classes, but six months down the track both of us were feeling pressure to be ‘successful’. We started to critique each other’s work, which we’d never done before. To add to that, we weren’t getting followers on social media, our posts weren’t being read and we’d spent thousands of dollars on this blog over the past few months. We asked for advice from a more successful blogger who recommended we took our blog in a different direction, but we both didn’t agree on that. One day while I was waiting for my train, I logged on and started to read our blog like other readers would. I saw a few typos and cringed a few times. I realised that a blog or website isn’t for me. I didn’t like the constant pressure to write and if I’m being completely honest, I’m not that great a writer. It’s hard for me to say that. We’ve abandoned the blog for now, but I’ve enrolled in a writing course. So, hey, you might see my words again sometime!”

BREAKING IT DOWN Putting a lot of energy, passion into a relationship or business can be mentally exhausting but also rewarding when it works. But what happens if it doesn’t? When you realise that you’re not skilled enough, or that despite all your efforts, it’s just plain not working? “It’s a bitter pill everyone has to swallow when starting on something new,” says Jane. “You won’t be perfectly good at everything and that’s OK. If that’s affecting your situation or your health, it’s best to face that fact and move on regardless.”

HOW YOU CAN REBOOT If you’re suspecting your skills might not be up to the task, Jane suggests planning. “Work out a timeframe and make a plan to build up your skills. Focus on how good you’ll become, rather than focusing on what you don’t yet know.”

"I think it’ll get better.”

IT HAPPENED TO ME “I thought all relationships were like ours,” says Emily, 33. “They require work and if you really love someone, it meant you had to always forgive, forget, and give as much as you could to make it work – no matter what. But the reality was my boyfriend and I had stopped spending quality time together. We also had started to live almost separate lives. Worst of all, just about any kind of discussion would escalate into a fight.

We tried to iron things out through talking, and even asked a friend to mediate. Unfortunately, while promises were made to make changes, he didn’t ever stick to these agreements. But the thing was, our lives were so entwined, we knew each other’s families intimately, shared friends, a house – everything! It took me a year to leave after I admitted to a best friend what was going on. But once I finally did, it felt like a massive weight had been lifted. I felt like this was now a chance for me to start living life just as I wanted to.

BREAKING IT DOWN Just when you feel like you can’t take another second of it, a tiny voice in your head whispers to you, “Wait until tomorrow, next week, next month, things might improve…” This is totally normal, according to Jane. A typical reaction to a less-thanideal situation is to just stick it out, wait for things to get better or instead be so focused on moving forward that you become entirely unaware it’s the reason you’re miserable. But Jane recommends being brutally honest with yourself, saying, “If your situation hasn’t shown any signs of improvement in the last six months, then it’s highly unlikely anything’s going to change any time soon, if at all.”

HOW YOU CAN REBOOT Recognising that you’re waiting for something to change is the first step. But if you’re not willing to leave just yet, Jane suggests setting a deadline by which you want to see some change. Be very specific about the type of change you want and also make sure you communicate this to the people who can make it happen. “If it doesn’t, it likely won’t happen, and you’ll be best served by getting out of the situation,” she says.


We take life advice from some of our faves.

“I was raised in an atmosphere of ‘everything’s fine’. But as I got older, I was like, ‘Well, no, everything’s not fine…’” Ellen DeGeneres

“Given a time-turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement.” J.K. Rowling

“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes. Understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” Arianna Huffington

“Your ability to navigate and tolerate change and its painful uncomfortableness directly correlates to your happiness and general well-being. See what I just did there? I saved you thousands of dollars on self-help books. If you can surf your life rather than plant your feet, you will be happier.” Amy Poehler

“As your career grows, the list of things that makes you happy should not become smaller, it should become bigger.” Taylor Swift

So, what’s next?

No matter how well-considered a leap into the unknown might be, the truth is, it’s still the unknown. You’ll have to expect that some parts of the new, exciting phase of your life will seem a little bit ill-fitting on their way to becoming comfortable and familiar. There may be new habits to form, new choices to make, new patterns to create.

According to Lowder, with any change, be it a job, hobby or relationship, there will be some upheaval, so be patient and wait for the awkward settling-in period to run its due course. Like breaking in a pair of heels, any initial discomfort will fade and you’ll be confidently sashaying through your new and improved life in no time. Praise-hands-emoji to that.