Reinvention. That's the hot buzzword right now.
Reinvent yourself. Reinvent your career. Reinvent your business.
Once upon a time it was enough simply to love ourselves. Well, we still need to love and respect ourselves, but to have a successful career or thriving business we must be prepared to do more.
The reality is that to succeed today, outside our homes and families, we must constantly evolve and adapt. And that means some degree of reinvention.
The Status Quo Is No Longer Enough
Under the best of circumstances, a failure to adapt through reinvention will lead to running-in-place and, ultimately, that gets you the destination known as irrelevancy, obscurity, obsolescence. Also known as the fast track to career or business failure.
But here’s the thing: Too often we pursue reinvention by latching on to trends as if we were filling our plates from a smörgåsbord.
I believe that we need to spend some time in self-(re)discovery before we get busy with reinvention.
Maybe you have a faint memory of some person you once aspired to become and it’s time to rediscover and reconnect with that person and those dreams.
Maybe you’ve never quite captured the essence of your purpose and have experienced years of floundering. If so, it’s time to get to busy finding your why.
The takeaway: You can’t successfully reinvent yourself if you don’t know your why.
How do I know this? Been there. Experienced it several times.
I’ve been through the process of reinvention more than once. And I finally came to realize that reinvention to simply fit into a niche does not lead to happiness. Just because I’m skilled at certain activities doesn’t mean those activities are a good fit for me.
I was a very good lawyer. Extremely committed to my clients. I helped them successfully navigate business transactions and solved sticky, delicate problems.
But service as a lawyer was not part of my why.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to return to law practice and chose to do so with the intention of reinventing my practice by focusing on intellectual property matters and media law. I found that much harder to do than anticipated. Former clients were happy to have me back on board and I ended up doing mostly the same type of work as I’d handled in the past.
Each day my spirit sank a bit deeper.
The successes weren’t enough to overcome the feeling that I wasn’t engaged in work that let me serve others in a way that was consistent with my highest and best self.
I’m also great an ironing, but that doesn’t mean I need to work as a laundress.
Let me repeat:
You can’t successfully reinvent yourself if you don’t know your why.
You’ve probably seen Simon Sinek’s TED talk. If not, watch it now. If you’ve seen it, scroll down.
Sinek also has a book, Start With Why* and delivered an amazing interview with Srini Rao in a recent episode of the BlogcastFM podcast.
Finding My Why
I celebrated a big birthday in November 2012 and decided to spend that month in a period of self-reflection and self-(re)discovery. It felt REALLY good.
I continued my project, code named Operation Forward Progress into December and early January 2013. I put together my own “program” built around readings, TED Talks, journaling, Chris Brogan’s Brave program* (it's not about making resolutions, even though the title implies that it is) and a few other activities.
The journey culminated in identifying my why by looking at the common threads of activities that gave me the most joy and fulfillment since childhood.
At the core, my why is about inspiring others to be curious about the world. The result has been liberating and has led to what is a rapidly-accelerating trajectory toward a vision that now has a framework.
Discovering my why (or, to some extent, RE-discovering it) has led to much greater happiness and pleasure in tasks that previously were big sources of annoyance. That said: I still don’t like dealing with work emails or sitting at traffic lights. But I'm much more patient.
In short, personal (re)discovery makes reinvention a pleasure, not a chore or an exercise in self-delusion.
Have you been through a time of self-(re)discovery? Do you know your why? I’d love to hear your story.
If you’re struggling to find your why, or how to reinvent yourself, leave your questions in the comment section below and I’ll share any advice or resources that I can to help you in your quest.
*These are Affiliate Links meaning I get a commission if you purchase through my link, but I only use affiliate links on this site to recommend products that I've paid for myself and have used.
“You can’t successfully reinvent yourself until you know your why.” – I love that. I also love that you developed your own self-reflection and self-discovery program. I may steal that idea.
Thanks, Javacia. It was a blast to do that program last year. The lifelong learner and teacher in me had fun researching and selecting TED talks, readings and and more. Since you’re a teacher and a writer, I’m sure you would enjoy doing your version. It worked well during the Thanksgiving – New Year time frame.
I took notes in a spiral notebook and then synthesized, reflected and transferred them into my moleskine, usually in the evening or early the next morning.
The Brave program I mentioned in my post also helped with posing questions and exercises and came with a new community that also offered up helpful resources to each other and moral support. We were the first wave of participants in Chris’s new (and inexpensive) course that started just after Thanksgiving last year.