Reinvention 2.0

A composit of various views of a monarch emerging from its chrysalis.As we said on our “Who We Are” page, we are embarking on an effort to reinvent the Gray Matters Coalition Website. What better way to kick things off than to have our first article be about reinvention?

You hear about “reinventing yourself” fairly often these days. But what does it really mean?

Reinvention actually means a lot of things to a lot of people, and to some, it seems overly-mystified or unattainable–something that other people do who really have their act together.

Reinvention can be for anyone, and we’re going to highlight three aspects of reinvention that might be helpful as you consider whether reinvention is a path for you.

Three Things to Know about Reinvention

1) Reinvention Doesn’t Always Happen Overnight

Sure. You’ll hear stories about someone’s “aha” moment where in a flash they know what it is they want to do for the rest of their lives. But for most of us, reinvention happens gradually. Perhaps it starts with a little spark or a tiny thought. Perhaps you’ve had a nagging thought that won’t go away about something you want to do or can see yourself doing. It might not be something that hits you over the head and lays out the plan for you and voila–you’re a new person. Sometimes it’s you experiencing a gradual realization, or finally paying attention to what that quiet voice has been trying to tell you all along.

Jane Pauley, in her book “Your Life Calling: Reimagining The Rest of Your Life“, advises the reader to “put up your periscope.” Look around. If you see something that intrigues you, pay attention.

Joseph Campbell talked about it this way: “Following your Bliss . . . doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

Sometimes this requires patience and attentiveness. Relax, take a deep breath, and put up your periscope.

2) Reinvention Requires Focus

Once you’ve found what it is you want to do with your life, you’ll find that a great tool in your toolbox is focus. You will have much more of a chance for success if you focus your efforts. We get results from what we focus on. If you know what it is you want to accomplish, committing dedicated time and resources to a goal goes a long way toward making a goal a reality.

Having a routine is good. It’s always helpful if you get into a routine and do your chosen activity at roughly the same time every day. If you’re a morning person, get up early every day and spend an hour writing, painting, singing, programming–whatever your dream is.  Or if you’re a night owl, spend time on your chosen activity in the evening. It doesn’t matter when you do it. Just do it.

Learn about what it is you want to do or be. Take classes. Many community centers have classes on a variety of topics. Check out your community’s website, or drop by a center and ask for brochures or catalogs. Go to conventions. Make friends with people who do what you want to do.

3) Reinvention is about Presentation

You’ve probably heard it said: Dress for the job you want–not the one you have. There’s something to be said for that. Mark Twain was one of the greatest personal-brand builders in history. He was a writer and he dressed the part. With his signature white suite, shirt and tie; his shock of white hair and his thick mustache, he announced to the world that he was something distinct and unique–a force to be paid attention to. You of course don’t have to go to that extreme. But pay attention to how you present yourself.

Also, think about how you introduce yourself. Let’s say you’re a bank teller, but it’s always been your dream to be a photographer. How do you introduce yourself when someone asks you what you do? “I’m a bank teller” would certainly be an honest answer. But so would “In my day job, I’m a bank teller, but I’m also an aspiring landscape photographer.” Which answer do you think will generate more conversation?

Think of yourself as a photographer if that’s what you want to be. Get business cards printed. Sign up for a free website and start posting some of your photographs.

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Reinvention doesn’t have to be a mystified, unattainable thing that only happens to a fortunate few. It can happen to anyone who focuses on a dream, has a plan for living the dream, and the patience to watch it unfold.

Check out these links for what others have to say about reinvention:

Encore.org: Second Acts for the Greater Good.
Jane Pauley’s 5 Reinvention Tips
Joseph Campbell: Follow Your Bliss
Joseph Campbell Quotes

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