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How to reinvent yourself for a successful second act

reinvent yourself
Photo by Varvara Grabova on Unsplash

Unless you live a very boring life, you’ll have the opportunity to reinvent yourself. You may have already been forced to do so, whether by choice or after a loss or tragedy.

We sometimes refer to such reinvention as a second act, because it comes after a certain age. But that’s not always the case.

You may have to reinvent yourself many times over. One of my favorite TED talks is from a woman who talks about the art and necessity of personal reinvention.

Like many of us, she had to start over (and over) as a result of self-sabotage. A history of childhood trauma will do that to you.

If you’ve been divorced, you know what it’s like to step into a new life. You have to learn how to live all over again. To take care of yourself and do things the man of the house used to handle.

You have to learn how to be a single mom. You have to make new friends if the old ones abandon you. And begin dating after years or decades away from the single life.

Whatever the reason you need to reinvent yourself, there are ways to do it that will make your journey less fraught. Although it’s scary, the risk is worth the reward. As Anais Nin wrote:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

So, how can you enter into your second act without setting yourself up for disaster?

1. Let go of what people think

Thankfully, our culture today is more accepting of fresh starts. The days of staying with a company from graduation to retirement are gone.

As a culture, we value growth more than we used to. Comfort and security ran the day back in the day. But now, we’re free to try different things because that security is no longer assured.

In spite of these changes, you will still encounter naysayers in your family or circle of friends. They may not understand your desire to think outside the box or leave the comfort of your former life.

You have to quiet their voices, even if that means spending less time with them. You must base your actions on your own internal instinct and direction, no one else’s.

You have to quiet their voices, even if that means spending less time with them. You must base your actions on your own internal instinct and direction, no one else's. Click To Tweet

2. Find your people

That brings us to the second step to reinvent yourself. Seek out growth-oriented people who agree that life is best lived outside the comfort zone.

Surrounding yourself with cheerleaders rather than justifying yourself all the time is life-giving. You have a greater chance of success and will enjoy the journey more when you pursue it in the company of supporters.

This may mean joining a new group, whether online or in person. I’m part of a writers’ group with members from all over the world. We bond over our shared desire to write even when it provides less than full-time income.

3. Take massive action

I borrowed this phrase from mindset coach Tony Robbins. While some people warn against “burning bridges” Tony encourages us to do so.

“If you want to take the island, you’ve got to burn the boats!” he says.

I believe in mitigated risk, especially where finances are concerned. So, I’d make sure and have money saved before quitting a job, for example.

Whatever it looks like for you, taking massive uncomfortable action is the best way to reinvent yourself.

Starting over requires doing things that build your growth muscles. You simply cannot reinvent yourself without making big changes.

4. Be kind to yourself

Try not to beat yourself up for your past mistakes. Our so-called failures can be springboards into a brighter future. Lessons learned inform future success.

Take things slow and know that success is never linear. You will have ups and downs and sometimes feel as though you take two steps back for every one forward.

Everyone feels that way, but most only share their accomplishments. As a result, we end up comparing ourselves to an incomplete version of someone else.

Everyone has ups and downs, but most only share their accomplishments. As a result, we end up comparing ourselves to an incomplete version of someone else. Click To Tweet

Practice self-compassion as Kristin Neff defines it. That includes regular old self-kindness (you know, the hot bath, cozy blanket, and positive self talk).

The second step is remembering you’re not alone when you fall short. Everyone falls short sometimes. Everyone feels down sometimes. Don’t isolate but talk about your feelings.

That’s the third step, embracing all your emotions, both good and bad. Because there are no negative emotions, really. We need them all because they all have something to tell us.

Have you had to reinvent yourself? What did you do that worked well?

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