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How to Tell if Your Life Needs a Reboot (and 4 Ways to Kick On)

Feeling stuck is one of the most commonly reported problems in coaching or therapy. Here’s how to test your “stuckness” and the four first steps to kick up and out of the fog.

Karen Nimmo
Jul 2 · 5 min read

“There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one.” — Kazuo Ishiguro, Novelist

You have no reason to complain.

From the outside, your life looks good, even enviable. But there’s something off — something you can’t quite nail — and it’s threatening to crash the party.

You feel like you’re standing at the window gazing out at the life you could have. You’re a little bored, detached, can’t get excited about things that are exciting. You just get up every day, punch automatic restart, and off you go again.

Coaching clients often describe this feeling; not depression, but discontent. The belief that they should do more, that they could be more — a nagging feeling that they need to make a change but…What? Where? Who?

Wait.

When you’re feeling flat it’s common to think the solution lies in significant change — ending a relationship, starting a new career, moving to a foreign country — anything to shake the wet dog clinging to your back.

And that can influence your choices, not always in a good way. Even if you do need to make a big change, it’s important to start with the basics — the things within your grasp — to make sure what you are doing is right.

First, test your “stuckness” here.

Key Signs Your Life Needs a Reboot

  • You’d describe yourself as a bystander in your own life.
  • You romanticise the past (those were the good old days) or the future (wow that could be amazing) in order to escape the present.
  • You’re scared of what change might mean so you avoid it altogether. If I leave this job, will I get another? If I leave my relationship will I find someone else? If I lose weight will I have to diet forever?
  • You’re unhappy in at least one of your current environments. This most often means your work or domestic situation. But it can also refer to your relationships within a particular club, group or sports/leisure activity.
  • You’re not (or you’ve stopped) contributing fully and willingly to the lives of the people around you. You know you could and should do better.
  • Your body is (sort of) in the game but your mind is often somewhere else, thinking about other things and/or other people.
  • You feel like you’re consistently hiding your true personality or that you’d like to be more than who you currently show to the world.
  • You feel a rush of envy when you see someone with a great life (doing what they love) and you want what they’re having.

When Your Life Needs a Reboot: 4 Ways to Kick On

If it’s a “yes” to many of the signs above, you need a reboot. But, often, feelings of overwhelm make it hard to know where to start. So here are the four most important first steps. Tap into these and you’ll be on your way.

1. Your body’s talking to you.

Come on, take stock. Often when feel flat and unmotivated, you’ve gotten a little out of shape, a little soft through the middle, or you’re starting to feel the drift of age. You don’t have to spend a week on dry crackers or spend your monthly salary on a luxury spa retreat, but you have to do something. Begin is with your physical self. Making a change to your diet or activity levels — or indulging in a little pampering — pays immediate dividends because it makes you feel good about yourself. So it works for your mind too.

2. Things that THUMP in the night.

Okay, maybe you get eight hours of deep, refreshing sleep every night. But, if you woke up in the middle of the night, what would your thoughts drift to? Work? Your relationship? Money? That bitch in the corner office? By identifying (and prioritising) your worries you can reduce overwhelm. So target the area that troubles you most and commit yourself to doing something differently.

3. Put your daily habits under the microscope.

Look at the things you do every day, or at least most days. Your morning routines, what you eat/drink/imbibe, what you buy/spend, how you behave to your partner or kids or workmates. Which things are quietly leading you down an unhealthy or unhelpful path? Too often we ignore the little things that — when they pile up day after day — begin to inform who we are. Is that really what you want? If not, pick the worst of them and replace them with something positive. Repeat.

4. Your evenings hold BIG clues.

Your evenings reflect who you are (unless you work evenings). Our days — especially during the week — are often highly structured; most of us have to earn a living — but the evening is the time when we (hopefully) get a window to ourselves. If your thing is to binge on Netflix, all power to you. Same thing if you like to party hard. Or surf the net. But if you do it night after night, be sure it’s what you want, be sure it’s taking you in a direction you’re happy with. The out-of-work hours are our play time, perfect for being creative, making things, reading, learning, refreshing, engaging (fully) with family or friends. So shaking up your evenings, at least introducing some variety, might be hugely refreshing.


It’s possible your life may need a reboot on a grand scale. But begin with the basics. If you can make a change in just one area you’ll feel a sense of achievement. You’ll also feel some autonomy — like you are taking charge of your own life. And that’s gold.


Enjoyed this? Check out my new book Busy as F*ck , a DIY approach to therapy in a stressed-out world. Available as an ebook or in paperback at Australian and New Zealand bookstores. Other territories coming soon.

Join my email list here for and receive a free gift: Seeing Someone: a brief guide to psychology, therapy and coaching. Enjoy!

On The Couch

Understanding yourself is the key to great results and optimum living. Clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo offers help for your difficulties and a blueprint for fulfilling your potential.

Karen Nimmo

Written by

Clinical psychologist, writer, still learning how to live. Author of 3 books, including Busy As F*ck: 10 on-the-couch sessions for busy people everywhere.

On The Couch

Understanding yourself is the key to great results and optimum living. Clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo offers help for your difficulties and a blueprint for fulfilling your potential.

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