A lesson from the Nintendo [RESET] button

Anthony Mychal Reset Button

I loved the original Nintendo. Beyond Mario and Zelda, I played games like Blaster Master and Deadly Towers. In these games, there were no save slots. You played the game until you either won or died. When you died, you had to start over from the beginning.

I usually died.

I think I beat Blaster Master once. I was in my twenties. It took me months (also in my twenties and with a friend) to beat Deadly Towers. When we got to the boss (nearly impossible) we knew we’d never make it back. We also remembered that it took us months to get to the boss. So we cheated. We looked up how to beat the boss. (It's not my proudest secret.)

Something fascinates me about the original Nintendo. You put a game in. You press the start button. These are givens. They have to be givens.

But that reset button…

You could just hit the start button twice. Turn it off, turn it on. But they made the reset button.

They knew you were going to lose. Going to get so frustrated. Yet maintain enough hunger that you’d want to play again so quickly that hitting the start button twice wasn’t an option.

I have a lot of Nintendo games I didn't beat. I have no Nintendo games I never played. I probably hit the reset button on all of them at some point.

What I like about the reset button is that it's a fresh start…but not really a fresh start. Hitting the reset button is different than playing a game in for the first time.

The reset button takes you back to the start screen, but you aren't a complete newbie. You have some playing time under your belt. You might even know how to beat the first few levels in record time. (Maybe not record time…)

You're starting fresh, but you're not new.

Few of us hit the reset button in life. In training.

We keep playing the game despite being lost and confused. You aren’t dead, but you don’t know what to do. You retrace every single step you took.


Sometimes the best thing to do is hit the reset button. Start fresh. You might have to do things you already done. You might feel like a loser. But the reset gives you a fresh perspective. You might notice something you missed previously. Might talk to one villager in a different context that ignites something inside.

This is different from game over because with game over you have no choice: you have to reset.

It takes a bit more courage to reset when it’s not game over. You hold in that reset button. Teeth clenched. Is this the right move?

Game over is your ally. It smacks you in the face. You were't good enough, but you're free to try again from the start if you'd like.

Unfortunately, there's no game over for us. We play and we play. We rarely ever stop to think: alright, alright…I lost. Let's try this over from the top. Let's scrap everything and do this differently the second time around because it's scary.

All of the progress…gone.

But it's not. It's there. Somewhere. And even then, consider the point of it all. You're stuck. Whatever you were doing didn't work. Whatever you are doing isn't getting you anywhere.

Why not start fresh?

Sometimes we need game over because, otherwise, we'd never have the stones to hit reset.

This is your game over…if you need it.

Trying to lose fat, build muscle, and build a body you’re proud of?

Maybe you’re a little lost right now.

Maybe you don’t have much motivation.

Maybe you don’t what program or diet to use.

I don’t know…

But what I do know is this:

Everything you need is inside of you.

You’re capable of more than know.

You just have to open your eyes.

My weekly column can help.

Just a small little honest note from me sent every Sunday.

Unless I’m hungover.

And then it comes Monday.

What I’m trying to say is that it’ll come Monday.

(These weekly columns don’t get posted to the site.)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Cameron July 22, 2014, 6:21 am

    I actually reset at the end of last year. Took 12 weeks off to follow this amazing chronic knee pain book *shameless plug* and started from scratch. It’s now nearly 6 months later and I’m stronger, bigger and in better shape than ever. I’m now just moving into all time PR territory and credit it to giving myself some time to reset and reflect.

    V true about being able to beat the early levels quickly too. Didn’t take too long to get back up to a respectable level and I’m not confident of achieving so much more. Clocking the game is hopefully a while off yet though.

    • Anthony July 31, 2014, 10:54 pm

      Thanks for the reply. The more I think about it, life really is an RPG.

  • AidenBloodaxe July 22, 2014, 8:26 am

    Man, this may have given me some insight into this silly little(ha! me trying to disguise how prevalent it has been throughout my life) thing I’ve always done.
    Since I can remember, whenever I did something ‘wrong’ as a kid – like stepping on a crack on the pavement, not walking in a straight line & not turning exactly 90 degrees to get around a corner, or drawing something not to my usual standard – I would hit reset. As a kid, this happened many times every day & was hugely frustrating. I would achieve my ‘reset’ by screwing my drawings up & hiding them in odd, out of sight places(me not realising that the best way to never see that drawing again would be to actually put it in the bin, but if I did that everybody would have seen how many times I messed up my drawings…), or I would pretend to go to sleep and wake up a fresh person with no memory of who I am & how many times I didn’t walk like a robot.
    I’ve been carrying those habits with me since darwin-knows how long, the resest button has always been there, but the causes changed from not walking in straight lines, to speaking my mind when I shouldn’t have, or listening to a single song on my ipod instead of the whole album because otherwise the play counts for each song in the album would be different & so I’d have to reset play counts. Same with my internet history, if I browse a website that isn’t related to what task I’ve set myself, I have to erase history(but if this happens so frequently why don’t I just turn it off?).
    Basically, I think I hit reset too much. Each day I have been trying to wake up & be this perfect person that doesn’t make mistakes & I have used the quote “everyday is a new life for a wiseman” as a kind of justification up until recently. So far I’ve gone 3 days without deleting my internet history & about 2 weeks without resetting my play counts(but that’s because I’ve only been listening to whole albums)
    Wait…maybe I should’ve kept these thoughts to myself, haha. The point is that I’ve been doing this since around the same time I’ve been playing videogames – about the age of 5 – & I’ve maybe been doing it TOO much, but who knows if it’s a bad thing.

    • Anthony July 26, 2014, 10:54 pm

      Ah, I never thought of the opposite of this. Hitting it TOO much. Interesting man. Thanks for this.

  • Tom July 22, 2014, 9:23 am

    I like the post, it touches my soul and let me think about life in general not just my training. I’d like to hit the reset button and in some way I already do. I try a new start in a different direction, in a different profession although I am going towards 40. The only thing that makes me worry is that I can only hit the reset button a certain amount of time. One day it will be game over, no matter how well you have played the game; no matter how often you won or lost or how much you enjoyed the journey. Like Tyler Durden said, on a long enough time frame the survival rate for everyone drops to zero and that’s the only real game over we have to accept!

    • Anthony July 26, 2014, 10:53 pm

      Ah, thanks man. The soul touching means a lot. I hoped this piece would, because I think it touches mine too. Nice Fight Club mention, too.

  • Dustin July 22, 2014, 11:00 am

    Good read. Sometimes a full reset can be refreshing, and can give one the strength to drop the burdens and expectations of former fitness programs and nutrition plans. The good thing is we carry over all of the muscle memory, and eventually we can coast through the beginning sections of the program/diet/game. Eventually the challenge becomes to beat Super Mario Bros. in one life, with no warps!

    This reminded me of a blog post I read on a language learning blog I like (though the advice typically applies to general personal development):

    • Anthony July 26, 2014, 10:45 pm

      Thanks for sharing man, I’ll check it out.

  • Marc July 22, 2014, 6:48 pm

    I feel like I need to hit the reset button for every single endeavour I pursue. It is a good article, but honestly, I don’t understand why success doesn’t come to me from the things I try. I am guessing it is because in order to be successful you need a level of organization that is ridiculous, especially in fitness related things. Trying to cut down from 10% body fat for example, I tried 6 meals a day with macros for a bit but I always get hungry and I can’t be bothered to write down everything I eat, feels silly and time consuming.

    I also train hard with a triathlon related program and I don’t know if a calorie deficit is compatible with it, but honestly, considering I don’t write down everything I eat in a day, I imagine I most likely burn more calories than I consume. I also try fasted cardio etc etc. But nothing seems to do the trick… maybe what I lack is patience, but I don’t know, there certainly isn’t any easy way to find success where few arrive.

    Anyhow cool article,
    But personally I don’t know if I have the willpower to hit a reset button anymore in life pursuits, I never get anywhere with anything I try haha,


    • Anthony July 26, 2014, 10:43 pm

      Organization? Eventually. You usually learn it. Just because you plug in and play the game doesn’t mean you win. You have to learn from the moments that make you win and lose.

  • Luc July 23, 2014, 3:21 am

    Ahhh… WOW! This just hit me where I live!

    I’ve been trying to train, really just going through the motions, with some old injuries. I’m sure I’ve made some progress, but it doesn’t feel like it.

    I never thought of the “RESET” button. It’s time for me to go back to basics and pick a new training path. I suddenly feel like training could be fun again.

    Thanks for the inspiration Ant. I’m off to start again.

    • Anthony July 26, 2014, 10:44 pm

      Good stuff, thanks for the reply. Glad it helped.

  • Jujimufu July 23, 2014, 3:10 pm

    One thing you forgot: the reset button was made more for games with save state function. I load my FF1 save game right outside the Ice Cave. The first enemy party I encounter, right at the beginning of the cave mouth, kills all but my theif. Why the fuck would I try to play through the rest of the Ice Cave with 3 dead party members and a thief?

  • Jujimufu July 23, 2014, 3:11 pm

    Besides this technicality however, I love your Nintendo analogy nonetheless. 🙂

    • Anthony July 26, 2014, 10:46 pm

      Technicalities allowed!

  • somepeoplecallmeHarry November 15, 2014, 9:38 am

    Yeah life is a little big RPG, although it’s more like Shenmui than any other. No magic potions, no easy ways out, if you don’t learn from what life is showing you, you will keep making the same mistakes.

    I hit my reset button recently, I was trying some stuff that wasn’t really working for me so I reset, went back to what I know works but with the addition of IF. Consider that the new thing I had learnt. Only a few days in but it’s all going good, fasted workouts are definitely superior.

    Enjoying your angle on things, it’s refreshing. Nice work man.

    • Anthony November 23, 2014, 3:51 pm

      Thanks for the comment.