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The Art of Re-Invention

It is never too late to be who you might have been. ~ George Elliot

Within the past year, I’ve had a number of clients who have found themselves in the middle of a rather large change only to discover the process isn’t going as smoothly as they had hoped. As we grow in all our practices, accumulate wisdom and experience new challenges it is only natural that to some degree all of us are in the process of re-invention. So what makes some re-inventions more successful than others? Let’s take a look.

In no particular here are some reasonably famous people who have made significant shifts in how they present themselves; Jimmy Carter went from a Naval Officer who specialized in nuclear subs to a peanut farmer to politician to human rights activist/humanitarian. Pablo Picasso changed his medium several times going from painter to sculptor to printmaker to ceramicist and stage designer. Taylor Swift has gone from a fluffy country singer to fashion maven pop singer who has retained full creative control of her work since she was a teenager (and at 26 she’s not exactly through with her life yet). If these folks can do it, so can you!

How? First off it will be super important to define for yourself what your destination is – we need to know where we’re going before we can plan our route. While you can go from being an amazing speech and language therapist to a freelance web designer, it will likely require you to take a few gradual steps to get there and earn an income.

Harvard Business Review in March 2011 talks about the need to script a narrative as part of the re-invention process (Dorie Clark). What that means is learning how to communicate to others how you came to make the shift you’re seeking to carry out. The clearer you can be, the more threads you use to weave your past history to what you seek to do now will help those around you go along for the ride.

Re-introduce yourself. Just from the examples above you can the value of getting in front of your friends, family and contacts to let them in on the changes you are seeking to make. For the record, and with my therapist’s hat on, I’m here to tell you this does not mean making an announcement at a large family gathering such as proclaiming (while a tray of goodies is being passed around), “I’ve decided to only eat raw foods!” Within the business setting this means making sure you seriously make personal contact with those you wish to keep a part of your changes; a mass e-mail isn’t going to cut it here.
Make sure you know your worth and are ready to show that worth to those who seek to learn more. Think of it as a continual audition. By producing content (using that narrative you’ve woven) or putting out there to the world your new intentions, you can retain or gain new financial streams/keep your previous stability; Carter, Picasso and Swift were ever in a state of poverty as they re-invented themselves.

Finally, stay consistent and focused on your destination. If you want this change you can get there and those around you will be more than happy to support you. What changes are coming your way? What direction do you wish to head in next? Whatever it is you’ll be fantastic at it!

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