Goals & Habits

Reinventing Yourself: Nine Tips

I admit it: part of me wishes I had woken up on my fourteenth birthday with a steadfast desire to be a nurse. Or an astronaut. Or anything, really. It would have been mighty convenient to make every career-related decision from a single, unshakable point of reference. Since that enlightenment didn’t occur at 14,  24 or even 34, I find myself cheerfully embracing the necessity, every few years, of reinventing myself.  I’ve got past the point of beating myself up about my indecisiveness, and now prefer to think of it as rotating my crops.

Reinventing | Pauline Wiles

Emily Wapnick calls this being a multipotentialite; others use the term renaissance careers. Or, you might be facing reinvention because of lay-off, retirement, divorce, an empty-nest or simply for the heck of it.

Here are my well-tested tips for reinventing yourself

  1. Remember you’re in great company. At age 30, Julia Child was a government spy and Andrea Bocelli was a lawyer. Enjoy a list of more famous people in the wrong jobs at 30.
  2. Don’t take advice from anyone you’re not 100% sure is 100% on your side. This might, in fact, mean you shouldn’t take advice from anyone you know. Instead, check out these pointers from author Claire Cook: “Life is tough. Decide to be tougher” and CFA Linda Descano: “Change is frightening for most of us.”
  3. For clues on what/who you should be, consider what activity you would do without being paid and which part of a large weekend newspaper you read first. But don’t stop there: watch this great tip from Stanford professor Tina Seelig, who argues that your passion and skills are not enough: you must bring the market into the equation too.
  4. Register your name as a domain name. Now, you can simply design your home page to tell the world you are anything you want to be. Don’t forget to do the same on LinkedIn and any other social media accounts. Simply present yourself as you wish to be seen: it’s the modern-day equivalent of dressing for the job you want.
  5. Even if you’re changing direction totally, you probably have a rainbow of skills which still apply: dealing with difficult people, influencing, critical thinking, project planning… whether your next mission is as the nurse or the astronaut, you know more than you think.
  6. Define your goals, visualize them by all means, but stay open to other possibilities.
  7. Give it time. If reinventing yourself affects your main income stream, this is a marathon, not a sprint. James Altucher reckons you’ll need at least two to three years to be successful in your new field.
  8. Worrying what other people will think is natural, but work toward making that matter less to you. In general, others have so much going on in their own lives, they’re not sitting around waiting to judge you. And in any case, discomfort is the currency of your dreams.
  9. Eat well and get plenty of rest. Emerging from a cocoon is hard work.

When was your last reinvention, and what further tips would you offer?

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18 Comment

  1. Reply
    October 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Great post Pauline – thanks for sharing! It’s always difficult to know where to start when you’re looking to make a change but these tips are a point in the right direction for those (like myself) who are looking into it.

  2. Reply
    Margaret Lukens
    October 10, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I, too, am a serial re-inventor. I love the image of “rotating my crops” – so much better than the indictments I can apply in my grimmer moments! In fact, the two professions for which I actually got degrees — journalism and banking — no longer exist as they did decades ago, so I may well have been forced to re-invent myself if I hadn’t already chosen to. Your tips are great, Pauline.

    1. Reply
      October 11, 2012 at 6:57 am

      Thanks so much for your support, Margaret. It’s great to know I’m not the only one who feels in need of re-invention and that others also have ‘grim’ moments 😉

  3. Reply
    October 11, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Bocelli was a lawyer?

    1. Reply
      October 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Yes, indeed, Wikipedia does seem to back this up. Bizarre but encouraging!

  4. Reply
    October 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    My goodness…are you talking to me? Yes! I have taught middle school for 21 years….it’s time at age almost 47 to move on and follow my dreams. But yes…..the $$$$ is an issue. I want to write, garden, write about gardening…..someone just need to give me a chance….

    1. Reply
      Pauline Wiles
      October 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Well, the most important thing is that you know you want to focus on gardening. So Tina Seelig’s advice (finding the intersection of your passion with what will pay) is relevant. And, personally speaking, I wish I had given more thought to a part-time reinvention (building the hobby slowly on the side of a paying job), rather than seeing the change as an abrupt, full-time leap. Great to meet you!

  5. Reply
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
    September 13, 2018 at 11:51 am

    Rotating your crops?! Love that, Pauline. And along that same line of thought, this week I feel as if I need to let my land lie fallow for perhaps a year before planting my next crop!

    1. Reply
      September 13, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      Jean, a year is a long time so I’m thinking you must be feeling pretty burdened. Sending hugs.

  6. Reply
    September 18, 2018 at 7:34 am

    Pauline, there is a book written about this inability to decide: it is “Refuse to Choose” by Barbara Sher. Wow, it is a revelation in terms of this reinvention of self.

    P.S. I found you in the comments on Gretchen Rubin.

    1. Reply
      September 18, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      Yes, I recall enjoying one of Barbara Sher’s books: I must revisit her others. Thank you for stopping by!

  7. Reply
    April J Harris
    September 21, 2018 at 3:34 am

    This is such good advice, Pauline! I really like your turn of phrase ‘rotating my crops’.

    I often find myself at a stage where I feel the need to reinvent myself to some degree, and now is one of those times. I’ve done it many times before, but it’s always daunting. Thank you for the encouragement!

    1. Reply
      September 21, 2018 at 9:59 am

      April, I have a Facebook announcement I’m daunted by and it’s through (misplaced) fear that people will “judge” my reinvention. I need to get over that! Good luck with your crop rotation…

      1. April J Harris
        January 14, 2019 at 11:16 am

        Thank you! I am excited to hear your news, Pauline! I certainly won’t be judging, I always enjoy your reinventions! I’m featuring this post at the Hearth and Soul Link Party this week. It really is inspiring and I know it will help lots of people.

  8. Reply
    Jean | Delightful Repast
    January 7, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Pauline, loved rereading this! Both Mr Delightful and I have often said we envy those who have had a clear career path since childhood (or age 14, as you mentioned). But, really, I have enjoyed every one of my reinventions/crop rotations! #HearthAndSoul

    1. Reply
      January 7, 2019 at 12:14 pm

      Jean, thanks for stopping by! I’m enormously grateful for my chances to reinvent, too.

  9. Reply
    April J Harris
    January 10, 2019 at 1:59 am

    I’m forever reinventing myself, but sometimes I get stuck mid re-invention, which is kind of where I am now! I love your posts, Pauline, they always lead me to look at things in a new way, and your share such brilliant resources. I found all your points really helpful (it’s only number 4 I’ve really got a handle on) and I also really enjoyed Tina’s tip. Plus I’ve found a new Podcast to listen to from point 8. Loved your latest newsletter as well! Thank you so much for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul Link Party.I really want the party to continue to expand in the topics it covers and your posts really help with that.

    1. Reply
      January 10, 2019 at 9:21 am

      April, as always, thank you for stopping by and I’m glad you found this useful. I’m sure you “have a handle” on more than you realise!

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