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  • Writer's pictureSimon Young

My Year of Rebooting: four lessons from a year outside my comfort zone

How was your 2023? I hope it’s been a good one for you. It’s been amazing for me.

This year, I did many things I had never done before. Sometimes because I wanted to, and sometimes… because that’s just how life is.

Metallic numbers spelling 2023

Not many of these things were “new year’s resolutions”. Instead, they grew out of the transformation that was happening inside.

I couldn’t have had 2023 without 2022. Last year was my year of “turning off”. While 2023 was full of activity, 2022 was quiet, contemplative, marked by uncertainty and introspection. I could not have made it through without the support of my wife and family, my friends, and most of all, my Higher Power, which in my case is Jesus.

Rebooting yourself is not for the faint hearted.

What you’re about to read may sound impressive, but it would not have happened without me first facing the guy I saw in the mirror each day, doing the work I needed to do, and developing the disciplines to take on this year’s opportunities.

Bear that in mind as you read on. Before you can start the new thing, you need to stop the old thing.

With that in mind, here are four “reboots” I experienced in 2023, and what I learned from them.

Farewelled my mother and the house I grew up in

In February this year, my sister and I buried my mother’s ashes alongside our father. He died in 1979, Mum died in 2022.

For me, it was also a farewell to the house I had grown up in. Part of the grieving process involved sorting through 50+ years of documents, photos and artefacts. Our life growing up. Mum’s life growing up, and even some of her parents’ lives growing up.

The funeral programme cover for my mother, Annette Young

In Reboot Yourself Chapter 1, I talk about the influence of the people in our life. As the saying goes, you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.

As I gathered up the artefacts of my forebears, I came to appreciate them all. Most cultures in the world understand that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Western culture misses this aspect, putting too much emphasis on the individual. Sifting through the artefacts of previous generations helped me see life in perspective. It also helped me get a greater sense of purpose going forward.

Death is coming for all of us, it’s just a matter of when. And yet, we spend most of our lives acting as if that weren’t the case. But coming face to face with the death of a loved one can help us see things more clearly than ever before.

Went back to school (twice!)

Also in February this year I began studying Law at AUT University. This was the same institution where my father did the training that enabled him to go from being a printer to an office manager.

This was the first time I’ve done formal study since my last year of high school – 30 years ago. I chose the Certificate of Legal Studies, as something that would be universally useful and also difficult.

A selfie taken at AUT University

The subject matter was useful, but also the experience of taking part in something very large, and custom made for me. As a self-taught person, becoming a coddled first-year uni student was remarkable. I could get right into the study material because our lecturers had carefully allocated the readings into bite-sized chunks.

The lesson I take from my AUT experience is – be your own lecturer. Before you start reading study material, plan your study sessions. Chart the path, then walk the path.

I mentioned that I went back to school twice. After completing my Certificate of Legal Studies, I enrolled in the Master of Technological Futures (MTF) by AcademyEX. I was inspired by my wife Marie Young, who graduated with her MTF this year.

The MTF is tailor-made for people like me. We have the smarts but maybe not the academic experience. More importantly, we want to make a positive change in the world. On my personal blog I’ll be sharing updates on my project.

Became a Samoan chief

My wife Marie and I both became matai (chiefs) in July 2023, in her father’s village, Leauva’a, in Samoa. Leauva’a is 2884 km away from Auckland, and about a million miles away from my comfort zone.

“Chief” is a loose translation of “matai”. To be a matai is to serve your community, and be a leader among leaders. It is a humble role, carrying the weight of tradition.

In the sweltering heat, we took part in the sacred saofa’I ceremony that has brought new leadership into the family and village for generations.

In the midst of this ancient system, the modern world weaves in and out. We are now part of a group of transnational matai - leaders based outside of Samoa who use technology to collaborate and coordinate support for the village back home. It is fascinating to see, and even more fascinating to be part of.

Me dressed in traditional Samoan attire for a saofa'i ceremony

Obviously, as a non-Samoan, I’m well out of my depth. But in many ways, so are my wife and her cousins, many of whom were born outside of Samoa. The culture and language are deep, and hard to access from overseas.

Thankfully, organisations like the Centre for Pacific Languages (CPL) provide structured courses in the chiefly language and cultural practices for beginners. I spent ten weeks on a course with other transnational matai. It was truly fascinating.

Existing in multiple cultures is incredibly enriching. I wish more people disengaged their own cultural filters and really listened and looked.

Self-published a book

Also in February, I published my first self-published book Reboot Yourself! We live in an unprecedented time when we can give form and substance to our ideas, like never before.

Me holding a copy of my book, Reboot Yourself

My Reboot Yourself! journey began in mid-2022, when I was researching the kinds of books that people wanted to read. Self-help and personal development were some of the top categories, as well as the most competitive.

My initial idea was to write something under a penname, a common practice for beginning authors. But the more I looked into this topic, the more I realised that I, personally, had something to say. I could bring together the results of my long-term interest and widespread reading in self-improvement, and really help some people.

Writing the book was the easy part for me – I have written for my whole career. The research, planning and project management was the challenge. I reached my destination by seeking out expert teachers and courses, and finding skilled professionals.

I don’t know for how many years I harboured this book – or just the idea of publishing a book – inside me. But to actually go from idea to execution is a feeling I retain, so I can re-create it.

So What?

So I’ve told you about four major life changes in my year of reboot. What does it mean for you as you consider making a fresh start? How can my reboot help your new year’s resolutions?

  1. Live with the end in mind. 100% of us die; how many really live? Be on-purpose.

  2. Invest in yourself. Learn not only from subject material but also the structures and systems that deliver them.

  3. Get a different perspective. You don’t have to become a Samoan chief, but think about ways you can look at the world through fresh eyes.

  4. Make your ideas real. Take that idea you’ve been working on – for a song, for a book, for a business – and start putting flesh on the bones.

We are beginning a brand new year, and not too many people are putting their hopes high. But maybe we should, as we put one foot in front of the other. Here’s to a Happy New Year!

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