Your values, training, experiences, influence by friends, relatives, and teachers, and other external forces make you what you are. You develop some comfort and liking for what you are.
Then suddenly Change comes in one form or another. It might come rushing like a tsunami or tidal wave. It can come slowly like a drip from a faucet with a worn-out washer, or it could creep along incrementally like a glacier. Change doesn’t always come with a thunderous noise. It can come unnoticed like a thief in the night. It might come in the form of devastating tragedy, difficult choices, old truths falling out of favor, new discoveries or inventions you never thought possible, broken relationships, or even new opportunities.
It’s foolish to think that life won’t change. When change is small, simple adjustments help you adapt to change. When change is massive, Band-Aid solutions aren’t appropriate. Warren Buffet said, “In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”
To master change, reinvent yourself, not just change what you do.
Tony Robbins said, “By changing nothing, nothing changes.” Don’t be afraid of change, but prepare for it. Deepak Chopra said, “All great changes are preceded by chaos.”
The first step in reinventing yourself is to admit the reality of change. The people who benefit from change are those who admit that change is constant. The mind must be able to process the fact that change is here and we need to reinvent ourselves. Albert Einstein said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
The great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
To reinvent yourself, you must have the ability to identify and reflect on what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters most to you. External forces shaped your formative years. If you want a successful reinvention, you must plan and execute how you will deliberately live your reinvented life. Someone said, “One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.”
The great poet Charles Sandburg said, “It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?’ “
Sometimes, you must shout out loud, “Stop the world, I want to get off.” Frederick Woolverton said, “Hence the necessity of getting off the merry-go-round to figure out what is really going on and let your sad feelings tell their own sometimes weird, complex, and long-winded story.”
Crafting your Reinvention Plan should start with a new self-image that should guide you as you go after your new goals. You have to pull yourself away from your old comfort zones, habits, roles and self-perceptions. It’s like kicking a vice. Your new self-image must always remind you of why you’re trying to change and what you’re becoming.
C. S. Lewis aptly puts it, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” Things will never be easy, and expect to falter and fall apart. Marilyn Monroe’s advice was straightforward, “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
People say that time changes everything. Andy Warhol thinks otherwise, “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” You can’t expect people to reinvent you. Changing your own mindset, thoughts, beliefs, and goals cannot be delegated to other people.
In planning your reinvention, heed Steve Maraboli’s advice, “Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”
Self-evaluation can be done with a lot of honesty and a little help from your friends who can tell you that you have bad breath. Planning is easy. Knowing where you are and where you want to be helps you easily craft a great plan. The execution of the plan is the difficult part.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” You need constancy of purpose to reinvent yourself. Believe in the destiny that you crafted carefully after self-evaluation. William Jennings Bryan admonishes, “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
To execute effectively, you need resolve and persistence. Ovid reminds us, “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.”
In 1977, a 19-year old dancer from Bay City, Michigan moved to New York City to pursue a career in modern dance. Success didn’t come until she reinvented herself—as a singer, songwriter, actress, and producer. She said, “No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”
Her name is Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, the best-selling female recording artist of all time. Just call her Madonna—everybody does.
Ernie Cecilia is the chair of the AMCHAM Human Capital Committee; and co-chair of ECOP’s TWG on Labor and Social Policy Issues. He is the president and CEO of EC Business Solutions and Career Center. Contact him at [email protected]