I vividly remember thinking as a 17 or 18-year-old that my friend’s older brothers and sisters who were in their 30s, were ancient. Sadly, time waits for no one. One day you’re finishing school, the next you’re finishing the working world as you know it today. If you want something, then the best time to start is right now. I hope to show you why and how you can begin to reinvent yourself at 40, whatever the reason.
This is another one of those selfish posts I’m writing for myself and I make no apologies for it. But if you’re navigating life and considering change, I hope it will also provide you with a path to follow. Whatever your circumstances and reasons for reinventing yourself, I wish you the best.
Life brings various seasons, and if you liken this to seasonal changes each year, what works in one season, doesn’t in another. We must change, adapt and as we get older, put on increasingly warmer coats each winter. Life may be seasonal, but our influence sends it in many different directions as we proceed through it. Who you were yesterday is one thing, but who you want to become is another.
20 years ago I was in university. My life was on a normal enough path. Bound for a career, possibly thinking about starting a business, socialising, and meeting new people. Normal things a 20-year-old would be doing. I had little real-world experience and little history in work and contribution. What felt like every few days, I was learning new things, trying new ideas and making all the mistakes.
Fast forward to today I’ve accomplished some of the goals I set for myself way back then. I started a business, I sold a business and I got fit. Well, 2 out of 3 isn’t bad I guess. Until very recently I did not consider what would happen with the skills that I have amassed and grown over the past 15-20 years. But those skills now represent the old me. I am exiting the business world as I knew it and the career I once had.
Make no mistake I realise how fortunate this is. I have to reinvent myself because of the decisions I made. Many need to do this out of necessity and others become brave enough to do this because they’ve been living a life that wasn’t true to who they are.
Do you want to change careers or find true love? No matter what your reasoning for reinventing yourself is, the steps I’ve noted below are some of the considerations I’m making and found myself asking over recent times.
What does reinventing yourself actually mean?
Reinventing yourself is the act of changing the way that you behave or the things that you do so that people think of you as a different kind of person. Are you defined by your career or your hobbies? Does how you look or the relationships you have still positively serve you?
By reinventing yourself you change the parts of yourself that you no longer like and change your current perception (inward and outward) for the better. By its nature, the process of reinventing yourself will be unique for every person.
10 steps to reinvent yourself at any age
Many of the challenges you’ll face when reinventing yourself are not outside pressures, but rather a focus on self-understanding and prioritisation of your own goals. Many feel that it has to be all or nothing, a total change in your life, but this is untrue. Only you can decide who you want to be. Below are a few ideas on how to reinvent yourself.
1. Who are you now?
How can we change if we don’t give thought to who we are now? What aspects of your life are no longer giving you benefits? It is crucial that you truly consider who you are now.
It’s incredibly common that we follow a path and that path leads us to places we didn’t necessarily expect or want to go. Has your career become so far removed from your original expectations? Have you emotionally matured from your circle of friends?
Take a step back and look at your life from the perspective of an outsider. How do you see yourself? How does this differ from your expectations? Do your core values and beliefs match how people see you?
2. Define who you want to be
If you want to change your life then you need to get out of the comfort zone you are in now. You could easily spend the next 5, 10 or more years continuing further down the current path. Changing who you want to be may require sacrifices and may not be comfortable. You need to break old habits and create new ones that define the new you!
Give serious consideration to who you want to be and define this. Why do you want to do this and will it be worth it? What changes do you need to make to achieve this?
3. Change your mindset
Making significant life changes is one of the hardest practices any person can undertake. It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone. We are all susceptible to our often incorrect beliefs about our own personal limitations. This self-doubt and fear is the single greatest obstacle those looking to reinvent themselves face.
Changing your mindset to believe in yourself and have the courage to continue through difficult times is critical when reinventing yourself.
Imposter syndrome is very common and this takes time to overcome. Knowing this is the first step to changing your mindset. As you slowly move towards your new self, confidence will grow and from this confidence, the courage you once needed, is no longer required.
Know that you will have self-doubt and push forward regardless. This won’t be easy. But change never is. Now is the time to stop regretting past failures, mistakes and lost opportunities. You are moving towards the new you.
Read this aloud.
It does not matter, what other people think.
4. Have a plan
Everyone should have goals. Large or small they drive us forward and in this instance, they are likely to be a huge consideration as we reinvent ourselves. They are great to have but do not focus on them exclusively. Arrival fallacy is real where you put the endpoint on a pedestal and everything will be perfect when you reach it. 100% of the time this is not the case. It’s important to focus on the steps to achieving your goals so that you can enjoy the process and journey.
Why do we set plans?
A plan is often the map to our destination. It is set without emotion so that if we ever deviate from this, we can return to the plan and get back on track. It helps us break down complex challenges into smaller more manageable steps. Plans can be changed and should be changed if necessary.
5. Fail forward
Everyone makes mistakes and from these mistakes we learn, grow and become better for them. Learning to understand this will enable us to take mistakes in our stride and to use them effectively in our path to change.
A failure only becomes a failure if you give up because of it. Otherwise, it’s experience. Do not be afraid of failure or let it stop you from experiencing new things.
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6. Review your progress
Self-reflection and reviewing your progress is an integral part of reinventing yourself. Making progress towards your goals and documenting this will make the journey much more manageable and dare I say, enjoyable. Life is uncertain and this path will not be a straight line to success.
Your change and growth will involve new ideas and will inspire you to try new things. Do not be afraid to try new things and to let your plans change because of this.
7. Ask for help
You are not the first person to reinvent yourself and you won’t be the last. The challenges you face others have overcome also. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Surround yourself with people who build you up and support your reinvention. Find a mentor if you can. They’ll not only steer you away from the mistakes they’ve made but will be there when you doubt yourself or your plan to reinvent yourself.
8. Change your circle of influence
You are the average of the 5 people who surround you most. Does this circle of influence support your ambitions and do they drive you towards your goals or away from them? If your reinvention calls for skills you do not already have, then this circle could be those already in careers you aspire to follow.
You reinvent yourself by doing something, not thinking about it. Do you want to become a writer, then write and surround yourself with other people doing the same things? Look for role models or career coaches who will help you with this personal development.
9. Celebrate the journey
Making significant changes to your life and reinventing yourself won’t happen overnight. This is a journey that moves forward one step at a time. It can take many months, years or even decades. The end goal is the end goal, but the journey is what makes our reinvention real. It is our experience that we gain and the changes we make. As you progress on your own plan for reinventing yourself, celebrate the journey.
Did you start an educational course? Have you ended a toxic relationship and finally moved out? These are not insignificant steps and while they will of course be emotional and challenging, they are the steps you need to take. When the time is right, celebrate them.
10. Manage your finances
The process of reinventing yourself often comes at the expense of your financial position and this is one of the primary reasons people avoid change. If for example, you want to change careers, then you may need to study for these new skills. Courses are often costly and can eat into savings.
A career change can also mean a decrease in salary, initially at least. Your past experience may not translate into a similar role with a comparable salary. For some, a career change often means a few steps down the career path. By planning and budgeting for this in advance you can put your savings to good use, affording you the opportunity to reinvent yourself without financial worry.
When to start reinventing yourself
It is a life-changing decision to reinvent yourself and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Are you just in a funk right now? Only you can answer that, but when your mind is made up, the above steps will lead to huge changes. It will take time, it won’t always be easy and there are challenges to overcome every step of the way.
In 10, 20 or 30 years from now, when you look back at what your life has become, you will have discovered the new you. There is nothing more rewarding than a life lived true.
Good luck on your journey.