Reboot by Jerry Colonna

I have not been this excited and inspired by a thinker in a long time. Jerry is like Brené-Brown-calibre awesome, which if you know me you know is very high praise.

If a book feels like too much of a time investment, listen to him on The Tim Ferriss Show — I listened to this interview TWICE — or on his own podcast, Reboot. I LOVED his interview with Sharon Salzberg titled, “Does anyone really know what they are doing?”. (The answer, of course, is NO, but let me tell you, as someone constantly trying to figure my sh*t out, it is comforting to be told by Sharon that we are all in the same boat.)

The main take-away is, in one way or another, get acquainted with Jerry’s work.

Jerry’s philosophy: the nutshell version

It is only through rebooting our core “operating system” that we can become a “child no more” and an aware, fully actualized adult. Creating a mature, resilient adult requires consciously becoming more than an aggregate of what has happened to us; it requires CHOOSING who we want to be. To choose our future self, we have to first know our present self, and to do this we have to become aware of our core conscious and unconscious operating systems and beliefs.

How does this relate to adopting a healthier lifestyle?

If you are familiar with my work (particularly my second book Your Fittest Future Self), you know that Jerry’s emphasis on “consciously creating” jives with my core tenets — particularly my steadfast belief that you can’t create your “fittest future self” until you know and understand what drives your current self.

You can’t create a future, fitter you with the same “self-parenting skills” — i.e., the same internal operating system and self-talk — that created your current less-than-fit self.

Jerry’s work offers potential powerful questions, concepts (such as the forgotten soldier and the pathless path), and tools (like killing the crow through journaling) that can be used when examining the “current you.” Think of his work as potential tools for your “personal life-coaching” toolbox — skills and questions you can use when learning how to connect the dots between wanting to make a change and making that change.

My favourite of his powerful questions

How are you complacent in the life you say you don’t want?? How does that complacency serve you???

So many of us say we want to change an aspect of our lives but continue to reproduce the life we say we do not want. When it comes to our health, we make health wishes — to lose weight or increase our activity or be less busy (me) — but the wishes are never actualized because we don’t take the time to set up systems to create our future self AND to understand what we might be getting from our current habits and values. We may say these health wishes are goals, but really, without the introspection and practical work needed, they are more akin to dreams. When our health dreams don’t come true, we typically become frustrated and disheartened, when really we should ask, “How was I complacent in the dreams not coming true, in the life I said I didn’t want?”

I’ll use myself as an example. I say I want to prioritize “fun” more — that I want more rest and relaxation in my life — then I just keep working. Now, I genuinely love my job — I am not saying I should not work — I am just saying it is all about degrees. For my health I probably work 20% too much. I continually state I want more rest and downtime BUT I never set up my life to create that alternate world. The question is, what am I getting from being busy? Validation? A sense of worth? A sense of being seen? Clearly work is important, but it would be better for my health if I worked slightly LESS. And until I find a way to get that validation from inside myself, or from “fun” experiences, I will never actually change my work habits.

So, if you say you want to get to the gym and/or eat better but always seem to instead be doing things for others — showing up for others versus yourself — ask yourself WHY??? If you say you want to stop binge eating but keep drowning your emotions in food, ask yourself what are you GETTING from food AND how you could get that someplace else. If you say you want to sleep eight hours a night but stay up late every night, ask yourself what you are getting from staying up late that makes that choice feel more important than the health benefits of sleep.

Use this question (and any other penetrating questions you have learned along the way) to delve into the “why” of your health choices and beliefs. Decide which beliefs, values, and habits are serving you — and then set up systems to reproduce those habits and beliefs — and which are detrimental — so that you can create systems to let that SH*T GO.

My favourite tool

Learn how to SHOOT THE CROW … through journaling: The “crow” is Jerry’s word for your internal critic — Brené Brown would say your gremlins.

Jerry suggests using journaling to identify — and ultimately say goodbye and thank you — to your “crow.” Journal using two colours of pen. Use one when writing from your centred, emotionally resilient self and one for the thoughts of your crow. By highlighting your crow’s thoughts, you take away their power — you call bullshit on them. It is often easier to see how unproductive the crow’s opinions are when they are on paper versus in your head.

Also, diminish your crow’s power by learning to “love your crow.” Appreciating how it has served you will allow you to let it go. Jerry points out that typically the inner critic has helped one survive, but its strategies are no longer useful. You may currently overeat — as a child this might have been a helpful way to numb painful childhood emotions. Or, you may currently isolate from friends and family when you feel vulnerable — as a child perhaps this isolation kept you emotionally safe from a volatile parent. These coping strategies were helpful. They no longer are.

Two of my favourite concepts

The pathless path: Every few months I post on social a juxtaposed image of “success” — on one side is a linear line (what we all think is success) and on the other is a jumble of ups and down that trend in the upward direction but that are anything but linear. Life — and success — is that jumbled path. I love this visual because it hammers home that NO ONE has a linear path and that LIFE IS MESSY. Once you accept this messy path, you can stop comparing yourself unproductively to this unrealistic goal of linear perfection, stop thinking that anyone else has anything figured out, and embrace that this jumbled process is the JOY of life versus something to run from.

Jerry’s version of the jumbled upward trending visual of success is the concept of the “pathless path.” He acknowledges that most of us want to know we are on the “correct” path and that we are making progress — a clear direction gives us a (false) sense of control. He calls this desire for clarity “wanting to know that ‘happy’ and ‘success’ are ‘up and to the right’” — we all want to learn the secret of getting “up and to the right” because we believe “up and to the right” is where the happy people are, where the people who never struggle live. This clarity might be what we want, but it sets us up for failure and disappointment. Life is about embracing that the path is messy — the journey is being on the path in all of its messiness.

We all want a map BUT a map is a poor substitute for LIVING A LIFE. Plus, “up and to the right” may be appealing when we are down and to left, but if we ever actually got there we would not be happy; “perfect” would be isolating. Getting “up and to the right” (wealth, status, etc.) does not automatically make anyone happier

In Kathleen speak, realistic expectations are the key to happiness. If you always want clarity, a linear path, and control, you will always be unhappy and disappointed. Life is about working and growing and learning. Life is messy. HOW LIBERATING!!!! Instead of waiting until you are “up and to the right” — until you are thin, wealthy, etc. — to be HAPPY, you can just be happy NOW. Be happy AS YOU PROGRESS along the messy path. Act. Analyze. Learn. Act accordingly. Stop comparing your internal struggle to other people’s “done up” life on social. To paraphrase Anne Lamott, we all know our own warts but only see other people’s make-up. DO YOU. BE YOU. THRIVE IN YOUR OWN LANE.

Say thank you to your “loyal soldiers”: Jerry’s loyal soldier analogy was inspired by a story from WWII. A few Japanese soldiers stayed defending their homeland out at sea after the war was finished — they did not know the danger was over. When found they were praised for their dedication — versus made fun of for fighting a completed war — and then with respect were told “thank you for your service but the war is over.” This line is how Jerry suggests letting go of your crow and anything else that is no longer serving you. Say, THANK YOU BUT GOODBYE.

To finish, a Carl Jung quote that Jerry often references and which I LOVE: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

In Kathleen speak, get to know the internal you — the unconscious values, beliefs, and habits that have and are forming you (you are forming you as you read this; we are always in a constant state of being and becoming). If you want to create a fitter, future DIFFERENT you then you have to tweak your internal opportunity system — create a different more productive internal you.

Don’t let ANYONE ELSE DIRECT YOUR FATE. CREATE the life, habits, beliefs, and values that allow you to live in your integrity and become the fittest, happiest, and most productive version of you that you can be.