This might be the perfect topic for me.
It is a combination of two worlds--tech and business. In my corporate days, working in an IT department, they even had a mission statement about the intersection of tech and business. I live there. For my entire career, it has been my main address. At times, I live there more than I live anywhere else, which is a problem.
Have you heard the term "hard reset" before?
It comes from the early days of computing. You can reboot a computer, you can reset a computer--and then there's something else, something more dramatic. A "hard reset" is when you hold down a power button, click on an option to wipe out all of your data, or perform some other function (sometimes involving a paper clip) that returns the device back to the state it was in when it was brand new.
In tech, this works because we tend to accumulate a lot of junk files. On our phones, we have apps we installed in 2012 and we're not even sure what they do anymore. (I have one called Color. Top the people who used that name, please get more creative next time.) On a Windows laptop, we have something called registry entries--tiny negotiations Windows makes--that slowly collect over time, like Facebook friends. Just about every gadget, from a connected light-bulb to an entire server at Google, occasionally needs a hard reset, a way to start all over again.
You know where this is going, right?
On June 1, I am taking a short sabbatical. It's only for a short time, but I plan to do some serious thinking. OK, more serious thinking than normal. I will do a hard reset for a few days. What have I accomplished? Where is this all going? Why am I doing what I do? A hard reset is somewhat similar to doing a morning routine where you ask tough questions before diving into work. For me, it means doing a hard reset on my own work progress after roughly 15 years straight.
This is a healthy process, but it's not easy. Most of us can't take a break for a few days. Almost every company founder I've ever met has told me the first few years of starting a company seem like a motion blur in Photoshop--fuzzy, a bit unpredictable, and hard to undo. Resetting your life might involve some pain and suffering--lost income, isolation from other people, missed opportunities, no Buzzfeed. Yet, the rewards will be far greater than any suffering you experience for a time.
For starters, a hard reset helps you take a step back from the chaos. I'm planning to go bike camping (long story about why). I plan to sit by a campfire for a day or two. I am not going to bring any gadgets along, even to cheat and check email. There's something amazing that happens when you take a break like that and step away from the flurry of activity, power down your gadgets, remove yourself from the office, and evaluate your life without distraction. Your brain processes things differently. Your fresh perspective allows you to see with 20/20 vision, even if you normally wear glasses (like me). The clouds part, the heavens shine. You win.
Here's how to know you need a hard reset and take a break. You realize there is no other way forward. You have accomplished as much as possible. You've already tried rebooting--long walks over lunch, emailing a hundred people in an hour, talking to the boss. You've also tried a soft reset, which in tech means you held down the power button and rebooted a bit more aggressively. It usually works, but for some reason the problems still exist. You've tried talking to your spouse and trusted friends, you've trolled the message boards looking for answers.
A hard reset in life means you have come up short and need to spend more time thinking through some alternative ideas. A few hours won't work. A few days might. I'm taking at least three days in isolation to reset and ponder, to rediscover some of the underlying fissures. I'll post a plan this week on what to do.
So, June 1 is the day. If you want to try a hard reset yourself, I'd love to compare notes and see what you find out how it goes. We can all boot-up around June 4 together.
Will you do it? Let me know.