By Priti Dadlani
At some point in your working life you will choose or be forced to reinvent yourself either because you decided to leave your job or you were downsized.
It can be a daunting experience, especially if you’re in the latter group, but ultimately exhilarating once you emerge like a butterfly from its cocoon.
I’ve reinvented myself at least three times so far. I started as a social worker and then spent two decades working as a journalist and now I’m in communications. I figure I have at least one more career reincarnation in me! Each reinvention feels like a new life because everything changes – the environment, the people, your daily routine.
Transitions coach Ann Daly calls these “do-overs.” In her article, Reinvent Your Life – How to Take a Do-Over! she writes about four common pitfalls that can trip you up when embarking on them.
One of them is having insufficient passion. “You’ve got to find what’s really yours to love, even if the rest of the world doesn’t value it. No one gave a hoot about French cooking in America before Julia Child decided to share her passion for it,” writes Daly.
Don’t let age be a deterrent when you’re contemplating reinvention, says Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, and an adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
She shares five tips in her article How to Reinvent Yourself After 50 on the Harvard Business Review Blog.
“Reinvention after 50 is more than possible; it’s critical to keeping your skills fresh and your work fulfilling. Between staying current with social media, owning your history, reconnecting with old contacts, and shaking up the ossified view that current colleagues may have of you, you’ll soon be ready for the next chapter in your professional life,” writes Clark.
Former Wall Street trader, investor and entrepreneur James Altucher has written a funny and insightful A to Z guide, which he calls the Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Reinventing Yourself, on his blog.
Develop patience because Altucher says it takes five years to reinvent yourself successfully. Here’s his description of the five years:
- Year One: you’re flailing and reading everything and just starting to DO.
- Year Two: you know who you need to talk to and network with. You’re Doing every day. You finally know what the monopoly board looks like in your new endeavors.
- Year Three: you’re good enough to start making money. It might not be a living yet.
- Year Four: you’re making a good living.
- Year Five: you’re making wealth.
You don’t have to reinvent yourself completely all at once. You can ease into it. That’s one of the tips in 10 Things to Know Before You Change Your Life, written by Susan Crandell, founding editor of More magazine who is now a best-selling author.
“There are ways to break a reinvention down into digestible bites. If you’re dying to go back to school, enroll in a course. If you want to start a business, ask for a leave of absence rather than quitting your job. If you dream of climbing the Matterhorn, try the Rockies on for size,” Crandell writes.
The more daring among you may prefer to plunge right into the deep end and reinvent yourself as an entrepreneur.
Michael Abramson left a career in advertising to open up a vegetarian butcher shop in Toronto that recreates BBQ favourites with ingredients like soy and coconut, but no meat.
As a fundraiser and event planner at Trillium Health Partners Foundation for 12 years, Dipti Rach helped to raise a total of $9 million. She was best known for spearheading the wildly successful annual Diwali gala, which featured Bollywood stars and sold out 1,000 tickets every year.
Rach decided to leave that job last year and leverage her experience to join her brother Bindesh Rach in running Cocktails n’ Canvas (Bindesh also reinvented himself as an entrepreneur after 16 years in mergers and acquisitions at Bombardier).
The Rachs’ company, which bills itself as “a new way to socialize,” organizes painting events at bars, restaurants and lounges in Toronto and the surrounding area. Participants get instruction from a local artist and then produce their own paintings on a 16X20 inch canvas (which they get to take home). The lesson and all painting materials are included in the $43 ticket. The venues also provide special deals for food and drink.
“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and the opportunity with my brother’s company presented itself to me at the most opportune time,” says Dipti, 50. “I know that this is exactly what I should be doing and this role is teaching me how to be a better leader, mentor and coach.”
Finally, here’s a Q & A video on tips to reinvent yourself by Marie Forleo. Although her delivery is a bit annoying, her tips are actually good. Have you reinvented yourself? I would love to hear your story!