Gone are the days when the path you chose as a young adult is the path you have to adhere to. Prior generations lived their lives like that. Many of them set themselves upon a course and never changed their path.
Society has evolved. Today you can be whoever you want to be. You can live in an RV and become a national travel writer. Writers can become nurses and lawyers can become massage therapists. Waitresses can start their own business and corporate moguls can leave it all behind to become stay-at-home dads.
Today, it’s more acceptable to be who you want to be and to change careers, follow your passion, and live your ideal life.
That doesn’t mean reinventing yourself is easy, though. It’s terrifying, overwhelming at times, and full of challenges. But as they say,
“anything worth having is worth fighting for.”
Before we dive into talking about how to reinvent yourself and the inevitable ups and downs you’ll experience, let’s first talk about what it means to reinvent yourself.
What Does It Mean to Reinvent Yourself?
The concept of reinventing yourself can be quite complicated or it can be extremely straightforward. Simply put, reinventing yourself means to change your life. And that might mean becoming the person you want to be.
Generally speaking, if you’re reinventing yourself you’re not simply adopting a new habit. You’re making significant changes to your life. Reinventing yourself does not just mean improving yourself. It doesn’t mean adopting new healthy habits or becoming more organized.
Reinventing yourself often means starting over. It means a complete overhaul in your personal and/or professional life. You may change what you believe, how you look at the world around you, and how you perceive your value.
When Is It Time for a Reinvention?
Reinventing yourself can happen for a number of reasons. You may have tired of your current situation either at your job or in your personal life. If you’ve spent years feeling dissatisfied or unfulfilled, then reinvention is a natural choice. Sometimes the only way to make a change is to start over.
Other times reinvention is thrust upon you. You lose a job or your personal life takes an unexpected turn. The natural reaction is to feel depressed and victimized.
However, a more powerful reaction is to view it as an opportunity to change your life and reinvent yourself. Sometimes you do have to experience the despair before you’re ready for your new path.
And occasionally, the opportunity to reinvent yourself simply appears. You’re offered a new job in a completely different field. You meet someone and move to be near them. You get a health scare and realize that you haven’t been living your life the way you want to and you dive headlong into a new life.
Regardless of the reasons why you’re reinventing yourself, you’re in for a miraculous and often terrifying experience. Reinventing yourself and starting over is both exciting and frightening at the same time.
It’s exhilarating because you’re taking positive steps toward a life that you desire, yet you’re also leaving the familiar behind. Sometimes even when the familiar is unpleasant, there’s still some comfort in it because you know what to expect.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of starting over next. We’ll then talk about common fears you’ll likely face and how to push through them.
The Pros and Cons of Reinventing Yourself – What to Expect As You Change Your Life
Changing your life is a big deal and it’s not for the faint of heart. Your change will feel monumental and many times it will leave you shaking in your shoes at the thought. At the same time this undeniable terror may also leave you feeling exhilarated.
Let’s start with the downsides of reinventing yourself so we can move past them and talk about the benefits.
The Downsides of Reinventing Yourself
1. It’s difficult
You have to be ready for some hard work when you reinvent yourself. You have dreams, big dreams, and they won’t be easy to achieve. For example, the schoolteacher that decides she wants to become a singer will have to work twice as hard as those who have pursued singing all their life.
She (or he) will have to network and meet the right people, she’ll have to train harder, and she may have to continue working while she pursues her singing career. Your path, whatever it may be, may require you to work twice as hard as you are right now. (Don’t worry, there’s a tremendous upside to this, too.)
2. It can take a long time
Reinventing yourself doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it can take years for you to get where you want to go. The next few years will be a series of small steps forward. You may, at times, feel like you’ll never reach your dream or achieve success.
3. You will experience failure
As you’re going through the process of reinventing yourself, you will undoubtedly fail. You’ll experience rejection, ridicule, and you’ll make mistakes. There’s just no way around it.
Failure is part of the process when you’re aiming for something big. You have to be ready to deal with it and to use it for motivation. Failures and mistakes can get you down. You have to be motivated enough and excited enough about your future that they don’t derail you.
4. It’s not comfortable
You have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. It’s unavoidable. You’ll have to take calculated risks and have a certain degree of faith in yourself. Reinventing yourself takes courage and the willingness to be uncomfortable.
5. You may lose friends
Some people will tell you that you’re crazy. They’ll tell you that you’re making a huge mistake. They do this for a number of reasons. They may be afraid for you. They may be envious because they wish that they had the courage you do. They may also resent you for your success.
Regardless of the reasons, it’s important to not let them get you down. Hopefully they’ll be able to figure it out for themselves. You have enough to focus on. And keep in mind that you’ll also make new friends, ones that support you and your path.
So reinventing yourself is hard; it’s filled with challenges, uncomfortable risks, and failures. It’ll probably take years and life as you know it today will cease to exist. Sounds great, right? It is. In fact, starting over may be the best thing you ever do for yourself. Let’s take a look at the other side of the equation.
The Amazing Benefits of Reinventing Yourself
1. It’s rewarding
There is nothing more rewarding and fulfilling in life than pursuing a goal that feels both purposeful and exciting. Your new life path will fill you with a new sense of purpose. You’ll once again be excited about your life and your goals.
Imagine the path of an ex-corporate mogul who is now pursuing his (or her) passion for cooking. He now spends his days doing what he loves, cooking. Sure, his path to becoming a successful chef at a nice restaurant may be something that takes years. Yet his path is paved with activities that bring him joy and leave him feeling fulfilled and rewarded at the end of the day.
What is your path? What are your goals and how do you want to reinvent yourself? What activity could you spend your days engaging in and feel joyous and rewarded?
2. A pattern of success
Assuming you break your large life goal down into smaller and manageable steps, you’ll also begin to experience a series of successes. Each small success will fill you with renewed excitement and motivation. You may wake each day feeling excited about the day’s activities.
This pattern of success makes the mistakes and failures seem trivial. Sure, there are setbacks. However, because you’re focused on the end goal and because you’re enjoying the process, failures feel less significant. You’re able to learn from them and move forward without letting them get you down.
3. Less stress and better health
You might be surprised to learn that when you begin the process of reinventing yourself, you experience better health. One of the reasons for this is that reinventing yourself is a positive activity. You cannot remain in a negative mindset and successfully reinvent yourself. It just won’t happen.
You have to be positive and motivated. These emotions and this mindset help your body combat stress. Negative emotions actually hinder your body’s response to stress. Positive emotions support healthy and balanced hormones and a healthy stress response, which means your immune system and your other supporting systems stay strong and vital.
4. Empowered – you’re taking your life into your own hands
One of the reasons people feel the urge to reinvent themselves is because they’ve been living a life they thought they were supposed to live. For example, maybe you graduated high school and went to college. In college you studied business because someone along the way told you that you should.
Maybe you were told that money was the key to happiness and maybe you were told to pursue a degree that would pay well when you graduated. After graduation you got the job that you were supposed to get and began life as a gainfully employed adult. But this isn’t the path that you actually wanted to take and in all fairness, when you began the path you may not have known what you wanted to do.
When you reinvent yourself it’s often because you’ve realized that the path you are on isn’t suited to you or you’ve changed. You’re now taking responsibility for your life and your happiness into your own hands. It’s empowering because you know that you’re capable of amazing things.
Sure, there will be doubts and fears. Yet at the same time when you’re on a path that excites you and motivates you, those fears can be managed.
Let’s take a look at those fears and doubts more closely in the next section and talk about some tips and strategies to overcome them.
Fears That Stop People from Reinventing Themselves and How to Get Past Them
Fear of time
You may look at the time that is involved in pursuing your new career or goal and shudder. For example, if you decide to go back to school, you have two to four years before you’ve reached your goal. As a society we tend to want instant gratification. But if you’re striving to reinvent yourself, it’s a process that can take years – decades in some cases.
It’s easy to be afraid of the time commitment. You might think, “Why not just stay where I am and look for other smaller and easier things that can make me feel at least a little bit happier?”
It’s too easy to stay where you are and to just deal with it. Many people do. They try to find joy and happiness in other activities. You might have tried a new hobby. Or you might have looked for ways to numb the discontent. Common numbing activities include eating, shopping, and drinking alcohol.
If you’re struggling with the time commitment involved in your new path, there are a few things that you can do.
1 – Focus on the path. The path to your long-term goal is going to be fulfilling and rewarding. You’re going to be taking positive steps each day and those daily activities will renew you and help you find the happiness you’ve been seeking.
2 – Break it down. Instead of worrying about the long-term time commitment, focus on the time it will take you to achieve the first small step. In the fitness world there’s a term for a workout that is packed with multiple movements. It’s called a chipper. The athlete cannot imagine how they’re going to complete the entire workout so they chip away at it, one movement at a time.
It’s kind of like that “how do you eat an elephant” joke. The answer is “one bite at a time.” Don’t focus on the end goal. Focus on your first step or bite and chip away. The process will be enjoyable.
3 – How else would you spend your time? The bottom line is that you can spend your days doing things that make you feeling happy or you can stay where you are. Why not take positive steps and do something that you love?
Fear of investment
In addition to investing time, there is also often a monetary investment. As well as that, you’re certainly investing energy into reinventing yourself. Getting over the fear of investing your money into yourself can be a difficult one. There are likely some limiting beliefs about money and about your self-worth that are getting in the way.
Examine your beliefs about money. Do you believe that it’s okay to invest money into yourself and your future? Why or why not? Do you believe that the goals you have for yourself are worthwhile? Why or why not?
If you’re unable to work though the fear as a whole, try taking it apart and managing it in smaller pieces. For example, if you’re hesitant to take out loans to go back to school, try taking one class or going for one semester. Once you become more comfortable with the idea of investing money in yourself, it may be easier to commit to the long-term reinvention process and investment.
Fear of failure
Let’s just start by saying that a fear of failure is natural and that everyone experiences it. Think about the most confident and amazing person you know. They fear failure. The difference between that confident and successful person and someone else is that the successful person pushed through their fear of failure. They didn’t let it rule their decisions or stop them from taking action.
It’s also important to note that you probably will fail. Most successful people fail and they fail often. It’s part of the process. If you’re experiencing a fear of failure, there are a few things that you can do.
1 – Embrace it. Listen to your fear and acknowledge it. Become aware of it. Why are you afraid of failure? What is causing this fear? Is the fear realistic? Pay attention to the fear but only give it a limited time.
For example, if you feel this fear, allow yourself to think about it for ten to fifteen minutes. Then let it go and move on. It may come back again and you may have to deal with it later, but don’t allow it to consume too much of your time and don’t stuff it away. Acknowledge it. Evaluate it. Then let it go.
2 – Focus on your successes. Failures are easier to release when you focus on the things that you’re doing right, and your successes far outweigh your failures. Every time you begin to experience this fear, make a list of three to five things that you’ve done well. Allow this habit to shift your focus from the negative to the positive.
3 – Create an affirmation. Affirmations are positive statements that support you to succeed. Here are a few affirmations that are designed to overpower a fear of failure:
* I am willing to try new things courageously
* I know that I am capable of the impossible
* I have the capacity to learn new skills that support my success
* I release all blocks pertaining to my goal
* I easily meet and overcome challenges
* I stay persistent even when faced with failure
* I accept challenges with enthusiasm and confidence
* I embrace failure and am made stronger by it
Affirmations work when you repeat them often and when you use them during a time of need. You can create your own affirmation or use one of the statements listed above. Print it on a piece of paper and repeat it to yourself several times each day.
Repeat it when you feel a fear of failure creeping up on you. Allow the affirmation to change the way you think about failure and about yourself.
Fear of hard work
Reinventing yourself will be difficult. You’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone in many ways. You may have to work two jobs, you may have to go back to school and learn things that don’t come naturally. You may have to network and talk to people who intimidate you.
Your goal and new self are worth fighting for. You deserve to achieve success and it’s the reward for your hard work. Sure it will be challenging at times. However, the rewards and successes will be worth it. And the process will be fun – hard work can be enjoyable.
The best way to overcome this fear is to strive to find a balance. Good self-care is important. You don’t want to push yourself so hard that you become ill. Find a balance that works for you and pay attention to your energy levels and your body.
Fear of ridicule and judgment
It’s quite likely that you fear the reactions from others when they learn about your new path. The lawyer that decides to quit and become a massage therapist is likely going to get some questions and raised eyebrows. The teacher who wants to pursue a singing career and the nurse or doctor that wants to write fiction will all likely experience ridicule and judgment.
Chances are you will, too. Reinventing yourself means deviating from your current norm. When people make that choice, it has a tendency to frighten others. They react by judging, laughing, and questioning your sanity.
Here’s the thing to remember. Their reaction belongs to them. It’s not about you; not really. It’s about how they feel or think about your decision. Let go of your fear of their reaction and focus on your own reaction.
How do YOU feel when you think about your future and reinventing yourself? Chances are, your friends and family will come around. They’ll learn by watching your example, that you know what’s best for you. You may become a role model for them. You may be able to help them in a few years when they decide to reinvent themselves, too.
Fear of success and growth
It sounds funny to fear success, but it happens. Generally, this fear creeps up on you as you’re nearing the end of your path.
It happens because you don’t know what to expect. What if success isn’t all you’ve built it up to be? What if your new self isn’t as exciting as you thought it’d be?
You won’t know until you get there what success and growth feel like. Why not give it a try? The worst thing that can happen is that you decide to continue to grow and change. And for many the joy is in the process, not necessarily the end result. If you feel this fear near the end of your journey, set it aside and push through. You won’t know what’s going to happen until you take that risk.
These fears and experiences are normal. Work to stay positive and focused, both on your goal and the enjoyable aspects of the process. Next, let’s talk about the steps to take to reinvent yourself. There are only five of them.
Five Steps to Reinvent Yourself
Reinvention is a process. It takes time to go from where you are right now to where you want to be. And like most processes, there are steps that you’ll take. Some of these steps will be strategic steps. For example, you will likely create a plan to achieve your goals. However, other steps will be informal and a natural consequence of your decision to reinvent yourself.
Step one: A self-assessment
Before you can fully decide where you want to go, you have to know where you are now. The first step of reinvention, and something you may have already begun, is to take stock of your life. What do you want to change and why do you want to change it? This is important because you’ll want to make sure that the path you’ve chosen is the right one for you.
What do you really want right now and why do you want it? What’s missing from your life and how will you find it? What are your skills and interests and how do they fit with your dreams?
Part of this self-assessment is to also realize that you have fears, doubts, hopes and dreams. Spend time exploring and assessing all of the emotions that are relevant to your current state of unhappiness and your future vision. What beliefs have brought you to this point? How have your beliefs changed and what beliefs do you need to re-evaluate?
For example, if you grew up with the belief that money was a symbol of success and your dream of becoming a homesteader contradicts with that belief, you’ll be more successful letting go of that belief if you understand where it came from and what you now believe about success.
Step two: Your vision
The next step is to take some time to document what you want to achieve. What is your vision of your reinvented self? What do you want your life to look like? You might spend some time writing down what a day might look like living your ideal life.
If you’re not sure what your future can or should look like, consider what makes you happy. What skills, interests, and strengths do you have that you’d love to make part of your day? How do you want to live your life?
The answers to these questions can help you begin to create a vision for your future. Before you can create a plan, you have to have a vision. This step can take a day or it might take several months.
It may happen in isolation or it may blend with your self-assessment process. Take as long as you need with this step. The next step is where you begin to take action toward your vision. You want to make sure that the action you’re taking is the right move for you.
Step three: Create a plan
Your next step is to create a path and a plan to help you realize your vision. Reinventing your life can take time. It might require additional schooling, saving money, relocating, and networking and knocking on doors until you get an opportunity.
Based on your reinvented life, what steps do you need to take to live that life? Make a list of all of the steps that are required. For example, if you are a corporate executive that wants to become a chef, you might spend a year or two saving money so that you can afford to pursue cooking classes and schooling in Europe.
You might begin taking cooking classes locally while you wait for your application to a world-renowned cooking school to be accepted. You might join a network of chefs or begin interning with a local celebrity chef. You might want to find a mentor or begin reading books on how to become a chef.
Once you have a list of the steps that are required, take a look at the first step that must be accomplished. Can you break that step down into smaller and more manageable pieces? What do you need to do to take action on that first step? Consider creating a rough timeline that takes you from where you are today to your end goal.
Step four: Take action
Taking action toward your goal of reinventing yourself is essential. If you procrastinate, your dreams may begin to slip away. However, if you take decisive and positive action today, the next step will be easier to take.
Fear sometimes holds people back from taking that first step. Don’t let that be you. Decide right now what action you can take and follow through. It may be as simple as downloading an application or making a phone call.
Try to create a plan where you’re taking some sort of positive action towards your goal each week. This can be difficult to achieve. However, it’s important to take consistent steps toward your goal without too much time in between. That time away from your path is when fears and doubts can win and derail you from your goal.
Step five: Surround yourself with positive messages
As you start on your path towards changing your life and reinventing yourself, it’s important to embrace a positive mindset. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. One way we’ve already talked about. That is to take consistent action toward your goal. Other ways to surround yourself with positive message include:
* Finding a mentor. A mentor can help you stay focused and positive. You can hire a mentor or a coach. You can ask someone in your industry or someone who has succeeded in your path to help guide you. For example, a financial analyst that wants to live a simple life and become a homesteader might find a mentor with other homesteaders who have followed a similar path.
* Supporting objects and messages. Sometimes all you need is a little reminder to help you stay on track. If you want to become a nurse, you might hang a stethoscope on the wall.
If you want to adopt a child, you might find a pair of baby booties and keep them nearby. Find symbols of your reinvented life that make you feel positive and focused.
* Good self-care. Finally, be sure to take good care of your mental and physical health. When you feel overwhelmed and stressed, take a step back and give yourself room to breathe. It’s easier to stay positive when you’re feeling emotionally, mentally, and physically strong.
These five steps will undoubtedly overlap. You may choose to revise your plan as you progress on your path to your new life. Finding balance and maintaining a positive mindset will be an ongoing process as will continuing to envision your future.
One thing is guaranteed – the path you start today and the process of reinventing yourself will be full of joyous moments, learning moments, challenges, successes and smiles. You have the power to change your life and you can start that process today. There’s no reason to wait!
Are You Ready to Reinvent Yourself?
If you have a desire to live a better and more fulfilling life then it’s a good sign that you’re ready to reinvent yourself. It takes fortitude. You’ll need to be able to stay focused on your goal, to be able to focus on the positive, and to embrace the process of reinvention.
You’ll want to be willing to learn from others, to ask for help, and to dig in and work hard. You’re ready to reinvent yourself if you have a passion to live more authentically and to follow the beat of your own drum rather than following a plan for your life that you didn’t create.
If you’re ready to take responsibility and control over your life and you have the beginnings of a vision for what you want and who you want to be, then it’s time to begin. Today is the day you start taking action toward your future. A future that you’re going to create for yourself. A future that’s full of bright promise.