Every now and then, something happens in life that either turns your world upside down or demands that you adapt in unusual (or even drastic) ways. You might lose a job you’ve had for years or a partner that you care deeply for. Maybe you’ll have to move across the country to pursue a new career. Don’t forget that we all die, as well. Our loved ones will only be here for so long before it’s their turn to cross over and leave us behind.
It’s not a question of “if” such things will happen, but rather when. Change is a huge part of life, whether you choose to accept it or not. Dealing with change involves learning how to embrace it and sometimes the best way to do that is to completely reinvent yourself.
Reinvention might seem difficult, but it gets easier when you make it a lifestyle. After all, there’s no sense in becoming too attached to anything in life when you consider the many other things that can go wrong. In this context, it makes sense to take control of your own future, instead of allowing your pain to do so when it can no longer be avoided.
But how exactly is this done? We’ve all heard of people who have completely turned their lives around, seemingly overnight, either in response to tragic events or because they simply wanted change. But is this really something anyone can do? Is it something you can do on demand, or even regularly, in order to avoid getting stuck in a rut?
Absolutely! Here are some important steps you’ll have to take to reinvent yourself.
1. Know Your Reasons
Before you can begin the process of reinvention, you’ll have to ask yourself some tough questions. It’s not always easy to take a cold, hard look at yourself and be honest about what you see. But the fact is, you’ll need to know why you’re doing this before you can pull it off effectively. It’s all part of the process.
First of all, ask yourself why you would want to go through all this trouble. Keep in mind that it’s not easy to reinvent yourself, so your reasons will have to be good enough to compel you into action. A partial commitment isn’t good enough if you want these changes to stick. Why is this so important to you? And why now? Did something happen in your life that requires such drastic action? Is what you’re trying to do with yourself even possible? What would you like to get out of this?
Once you’re clear on why you want to reinvent yourself, you’ll have to focus on who you’d like to become. What sorts of abilities do you have? What do you really want and what do you value? Is there something you’re passionate about that you haven’t been doing? If so, what types of goals would you have to pursue in order to make that happen? Are these goals congruent with your current values or will there be conflict at some point? Can you create a timeline for them? How will you measure your progress?
Once you’ve answered these questions, think about what you can do now to help make this happen. Are there any opportunities you can seize on that might help? Are there opportunities you could create for yourself that might set you in the right direction? Remember that you’ll have to keep your eyes open for all opportunities that might be useful in your reinvention. Note that opportunities are everywhere, but if you’re not paying attention, you’ll probably miss them and draw out the process.
2. Visualize Your Desired Future
You’ll have to create a clear vision for the type of future you want. This will require some quiet time, free from all distractions, so you can do some deep thinking. Think about all the things you’ll have to leave behind, including people who may not line up with this new vision. If you’re trying to better yourself by pursuing higher goals, you’re not going to get much encouragement from people who are unhappy with their own lot in life, yet unwilling to do the same. If anything, they will probably discourage you from aiming too high and try to make you feel guilty about wanting more.
Bear in mind that the reinvention process can be painful, especially if these people are special to you or have been in your life for many years. They might be close friends or even family members. There’s nothing easy about this process, which is why it’s important to do it right from the start. You don’t want to sabotage your own progress and end up back where you started.
There might also be places or situations that you’ll have to leave behind. Your old hangouts might not be the best places to go anymore, especially if the people you’re leaving behind are always there. If you’ve spent lots of time hanging out at specific places with people who have no desire to change, you’ll have a hard time achieving consistency by continuing to frequent these places. Be advised that in more drastic cases, you may have to move to another city or town.
Now think about what you have in mind to replace all of this with. Create a new picture in your mind of what you want and see yourself inside of it. Imagine the type of people you want to associate with and the places where you’d like to spend your time. Think about the types of activities you’d like to be involved in and see yourself immersed in them. Make this picture as realistic as you can by imagining all the sights, sounds, smells and sensations that would go with it. Make it seem so real that you can almost reach out and touch it.
3. Create a Written Plan
Next, you’ll have to write out a plan to help you move in the direction of your goal. Think about what steps would be required to make the vision you created in your mind play out and how specifically you can accomplish these smaller goals. What city would you have to be living in? What sort of house or apartment would you need? Will you have to save up some money to make any part of your vision become reality? You’ll have to think this out in great detail and consider all of the implications.
Your plan should include everything you need to get the process started, including lists of things to focus on and a detailed plan for how to make progress in the coming weeks and months. If your vision is drastically different from your current life, you might even have to plan it in two or three stages. Ask yourself what sorts of small changes you can make now to take yourself in this direction and think about the decisions you’ll have to make along the way. What criteria will you use in making these decisions? Will you have to develop any new habits?
Don’t forget to set some milestones for yourself along the way to help you keep track of where you’re at in this journey. Schedule repetitive tasks that can help keep you on target and track your progress. You’ll also need to establish new routines for yourself, such as a morning routine to get your day started off on the right foot. There might be some small things you can do that will make a huge difference, that your current self hasn’t been doing.
For example, if you’ve always wished you were the type of person who exercised first thing in the morning, now would be a great time to begin doing so. Just MAKE A COMMITMENT and start by doing 10 push-ups as soon as you get out of bed. It might not sound like much, but it’ll get you moving in the right direction and as you begin to feel better, you’ll be able to handle more exercise. These are small changes you can make to get you thinking like a different person – the person you want to become, rather than the person you’ve been up to this point!
Are you happy with your appearance? Maybe you’d like a different haircut or some fancier clothes. Maybe you should think about working on your body language. There are books you can buy to help you change all of these things. Remember that your goal is to change whatever you feel you have to, in order to create the new life you desire. If you see the same person in the mirror, you’re going to feel the same way you’ve already decided that you don’t want to feel. So if you’re going to give your life a makeover, you might as well go all-out and do it right!
Make note of any sacrifices you might have to make in order to stick with your plan. Come up with a realistic time-frame and take all of these smaller changes into account. The changes you make should be bite-sized to ensure that you won’t give up before making significant progress. Remember that you’re not going to get good at doing things differently right away. But if you put some distance between yourself and the people and situations in your past, you’ll have time to gradually implement these changes without anything dragging you backward.
Once you’ve got all this on paper, put it someplace where you can look at it from time to time. Don’t be afraid to add to it or tweak it, if you must. Remember that YOU are the architect of this new design and you can make all the changes you want to!
4. Address Any Conflicts or
Keep in mind that not all journeys of this sort are as smooth as we would like them to be. Your mission to reinvent yourself will probably be riddled with all sorts of obstacles and challenges. Now that you’ve got a plan of action, you’ll have to start thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong. Remember that the purpose of this is not to start thinking negatively about something you’ve finally worked up the guts to do. The point is to be prepared for what you might have to face along the way, so you won’t be caught off guard.
There are a number of different ways you could sabotage your progress. A negative mindset, limiting beliefs, excuses, unproductive thoughts, laziness and irresponsibility could easily lead to your downfall. So can bad habits like self-criticism, procrastination, or even a tendency to get caught up in the comforts of the moment instead of thinking about your future. Instant gratification can be a terrible trap that can ruin all hope of transforming yourself into the type of person you’d like to become.
In order to avoid these setbacks, you’ll have to think about how you’re going to deal with them. How are you going to keep yourself focused over the long-term? How can you continue moving forward in the face of adversity? Don’t forget that resistance is as natural a phenomenon as gravity and sooner or later you’re going to be faced with it. How you choose to handle that will determine whether or not your efforts at reinvention will be successful or not.
Expect to be continuously bombarded with uncertainty. Setbacks will pop up and you’ll be unsure of what to do. However, if you think this out ahead of time, you’ll have steps in place to guide you through any obstacle you might have to face. Note that this won’t necessarily make the process easy since it’s impossible to prepare for every scenario. But it is possible to train your mind to tackle unexpected challenges more optimally.
One example of this is to adopt the type of mindset that’s centered around finding solutions. You’ll probably notice that many of the people around you, possibly including yourself, have a tendency to complain about their problems and indulge in self-pity. Try to catch yourself before you begin caving into that terrible habit. Then ask yourself what steps you can take to get past a particular problem, or who you could consult with about it if it’s not something you can handle alone.
Remember that you’re going to make lots of mistakes, but being down on yourself over that isn’t going to help you grow into a better version of yourself. Your objective should be to learn from each mistake and get used to confronting your challenges with solutions of some sort, whether they work the first time or not. Don’t be afraid to experiment, as this is how you will learn. Just try something and if it doesn’t work, figure out why it didn’t and be honest about what you find. Make adjustments from here, then try again, or try something else. It might take some time to fix whatever needs fixing, but you’re far less likely to get stuck this way.
Sometimes you’re going to have to ask for help. Chances are, you probably know someone who has transformed their life right before everyone’s eyes. This is the person you need to get better acquainted with because you have more in common with them now than you may realize. Look for someone with similar goals, passions, and values, so you can pick their brains for information, guidance or perspective. You might even be able to explore ways to help one another on your respective journeys or get that person to mentor you. Remember that you’ll need a strong network of people to support you during the tough times and you’ll have to be selective about who they are.
5. Collect Visual Reminders
Another thing that helps is to surround yourself with reminders of your goals. For example, if you’re looking for a new job in a specific field, place images relating to this in locations where you’ll run across them daily. If there’s a type of home you’d like to live in and you can find a picture of a similar one, place it near your front door, so you’ll think about it as you leave your current house each day. You can also stick these reminders to your computer, hang them on your wall or in any location that you visit on a daily basis.
One of the hardest things to do when reinventing yourself is to keep up the changes you’re making long enough to make them stick. People have a tendency to quit early before they’re able to establish the new habits and behavioral patterns that can bring forth the desired changes. This is what visual (and even written) reminders are for. They compel you to focus on the bigger picture, even while you’re doing other things because you keep tripping across them.
If it helps, put together a vision board with various pictures and articles that you find inspiring. Flip through books and magazines to find pictures you can cut out and stick to your board. If there are any objects that can serve this purpose and that are small enough, you might be able to stick them to the board for additional inspiration. If they’re bigger objects, you might be able to at least place them in the board’s vicinity or even draw them onto the board. Try to personalize your vision board in any way that appeals to you, so you can create a better connection between those things that are not yet incorporated into your life and the aspects that are already part of your deeper self (artistic skills, style, creativity, etc…).
Next, look at your environment and ask yourself if the area around you is congruent with the type of person you’re trying to become. It might be that the person you’re transforming into would not be a good fit for the place where you currently live or work. While it might just need a few upgrades, there’s also a possibility that you’ll have to undergo this transformation in completely different surroundings. The only way to know for sure is to take a good, hard look at your environment and ask some honest questions.
I’m not suggesting that you’ll have to move to another city or country to reinvent yourself successfully, but sometimes that is the case. It all depends on what you have in mind and whether a new home or apartment in the same locale is enough to support the type of transformation you’re looking for. You might also find that you just need some time to reflect on your life first, in which case a vacation might help. Sometimes this is enough to bolster your motivation to create the “new you.” Remember that while motivation does not guarantee your success in any endeavor, it does help to keep you focused, which can be critical when you’re surrounded by so many of life’s distractions.
6. Find a Mentor
You may find that it’s easier to reinvent yourself when you have a mentor to guide you. If you don’t know anyone who can fulfill that role, there’s no need to worry, as there is more than one type of mentor. A traditional mentor is someone who can stand right in front of you and show you how they’ve done whatever it is you’re trying to do. However, you should probably keep in mind that most real mentors are not always as nice as they are portrayed in tv and movies. There’s a good chance they’re going to be strict with you and may not even like you.
Fortunately, you can also find a form of mentorship in books about people you admire. This type of mentor is very different and may not even be a single person. You can acquire much of the same knowledge by reading a large number of books and learning the perspectives and experiences of multiple individuals.
Keep in mind that if you’re looking for one good book, there are simply too many to choose from. You’d be better off reading hundreds of them in different genres, including inspirational books and biographies. When you run across something that reflects an aspect of who you want to be, pay special attention and read through that section with an intention to thoroughly understand what is presented.
With this in mind, know that there are people out there who think of everything as their mentor. Okay, maybe not everything… But if you’re passionate enough about reinventing yourself, then you can look to just about about anything for inspiration, including nature. When you learn to look at life in this way, you’ll get used to connecting the dots between everything around you and interpreting these seemingly unrelated things in a way that corresponds to the changes you’re trying to make.
7. Revisit Your Vision
Note that it’s also important to revisit your original vision on a regular basis. If it’s important enough to you, it should be the first thing you think about when you open your eyes in the morning and the last thing you think about when you close them at night. The reason this is important is that if you’re not thinking about it every single day, you can’t expect to remain connected to it for long. You’ll need to constantly remember the reasons why you’re doing these things in order to continue feeling the same levels of drive and motivation.
Remember that reinventing yourself is not a smooth process. You will encounter resistance on a daily basis and you’ll need strong willpower to keep it from breaking you down. When you’ve been a certain type of person for many years, there’s a large part of you that will not want to let that go. That part of you will view this process as a death sentence for the “old you.” Even the things in your past that have caused you pain can be difficult to let go of. You may discover limiting beliefs that you’ve held for years without realizing it or stories you’ve been telling yourself that have kept you from attempting new things and tackling new challenges.
The only way to keep your compass pointed in this new direction is to constantly remind yourself of what you’re moving toward and WHY. You’ll need this the most when you find yourself slipping into old habits or making excuses for not implementing needed changes. When you find yourself procrastinating instead of doing what must be done to make this effort worthwhile, you will at least know why it’s happening and be better prepared to fight it. Much of this grief can be avoided by keeping your eyes open and your mind focused on where you’re going.
If you can manage this regardless of what you may be feeling, you’ll have something to anchor yourself to the direction in which you’re going. Whether you feel lonely, lazy, tired, self-critical or just disappointed in your progress, revisiting your vision on a daily basis will inspire you to do at least one small thing to maintain your momentum. Remember that having courage doesn’t mean that you don’t experience fear. To have courage is to feel fear and proceed anyway, taking whatever actions are necessary. Don’t let fear dictate your decisions about your future. That’s what your vision is for and that is where your attention should be.
8. Reassess Regularly
Another important thing to remember is that your dreams and goals can change over time. What you aspire for today may no longer appeal to you in 3 to 5 years. In fact, things can happen in your life that completely overturn your goals in only a year or two. Even if you do have the same goals a few years from now, you may not be happy with the progress you’re making at some future point. Remember that just as the world around you changes, you will also change in ways you may not have predicted.
For this reason, it’s important not only to revisit your vision but also to reassess your goals regularly. If you’re reinventing yourself in any serious way whatsoever, you’re probably not going to be done with the process in a year’s time. It might take years of steady progress in a particular direction to arrive at where you want to be. Along the way, numerous things will pop up in your life, as will some new people, who may reshape your vision in some way.
This is why it’s good to take stock of your progress at least once a year, whether it’s at the beginning of the year, on your birthday, or on some other significant day, such as when you first embarked upon this journey. Keep in mind that you’ll have greater levels of satisfaction in your life and be more likely to succeed at reinvention if you’re flexible enough to make adjustments in response to the curveballs that life will throw at you.
If you neglect to do this, you may find yourself half-heartedly pursuing your vision. The result of this will be that you’re less interested in it over time and may eventually drop it. When this happens, you’ll take the path of least resistance, which will probably be right back in the direction from which you came. It’s when this occurs that people get down on themselves about not following through with their most important goals.
You can only chase a goal for so long, once you’re no longer in love with it or it has become outdated. It’s far better to tweak your goals and vision as you move along, in a gradual and more natural sort of way. You may even find that you have to reassess these things more often than once a year, especially if you’ve faced numerous challenges that you feel have shaped you somehow. What you don’t want is for your vision to be at odds with the lessons life is teaching you about where you really belong.
Things to Consider
There are a number of other things you’ll need to consider, as well. Before you can truly commit to reshaping your future, you have to be honest with yourself about how you are today. How much work is this really going to take? Are you willing to do all that or will you give up halfway through the process? Have you been through so many changes already that you’re likely to feel very differently about what you want in a few short months?
Does the direction you want to take your life in match your values? For example, you may like the idea of starting your own business, but do you have the discipline to do it? Maybe it would be better to work on creating a more disciplined version of yourself before attempting a project that could have major financial implications. Have you been trying to become more outgoing because people have told you that you should be, even though you’re not going to like becoming such a person? If that’s not the kind of person you are to begin with, you’d best be sure that you really want to change that about yourself, because if your heart isn’t in it, your motivation to succeed will suffer.
Are there any conflicts between what you’d like to do with your life and your other priorities? If you’re planning to climb the corporate ladder and get there by working 100 hours a week, is it going to cost you your marriage or a chance to spend time with your kids? I’m not saying this would be a factor for everyone, but it certainly could be. Think carefully about the sacrifices involved and be sure about what you’re willing to do before throwing yourself into anything. Ask yourself if you can do it long-term and whether you’re even doing it for the right reasons. Will you enjoy the process? If you don’t, you’ll want to give up at the first sign of resistance. Make sure you really want to reinvent yourself in this way, before making such a big commitment.
There’s nothing easy about reinventing yourself. Transformation can be very difficult, as is evident by the number of people you probably know who willingly admit that they hate change. You’ll face a number of difficulties that can easily derail your progress if you’re not persistent enough to power through them, knowing that this is what you really want. Regardless of how it goes, always remember to celebrate each small victory. While it’s natural to want to focus on the ultimate goal, you’ll have to learn to enjoy the process if you intend to stick to it and the only way to do this is to recognize each smaller win for what it represents.
Remember that reinvention is often a journey with no end. You might very well find that when you arrive at the point you wanted to get to, there will be something else you want and more changes you’ll have to make. So it may be best to think of this process as one continuous transformation that evolves over time. It’s a lifelong commitment to remain in motion and learn how not to fear change, so you can let go of whatever’s preventing you from living your life to the fullest. Don’t forget that it’s up to you to decide whether you want to live your life moving in a forward or backward direction.