There is a unique way we all belong to the world. Apprentice yourself to that discovery – David Whyte
There are cyclical times in life where you need to reinvent yourself. That way you stay relevant to those around you, AND feel more fulfilled by life.
When things get stagnant or stop working, many people think they need to change something external, such as work or relationships. The truth is, you often need to change HOW you approach those aspects of life, and then the external changes.
#1 – LET GO MORE QUICKLY
Just a generation ago people tended to stay in the same job, career, home, and relationship their entire life. Now, people are needing to change at a rate never before seen in history. According to the U.S. Department of Labour, the average person changes their career at least 6 times, their homes at least 8 times and their long term relationships at least 3 times in a lifetime.
The world is changing at an exponential rate. As the world changes, the way you belong to the world keeps changing, too. Yet, few of us have had a role model for reinventing ourselves over and over again.
As a result, a huge number of people are always in transition, but are holding onto the past. For example, a Y2K expert ended up with no clients once 2000 came and went without hitch. He waited too long to reinvent himself and so went out of business. Another example is Kodak. Once digital photography came on the market, they didn’t reinvent. Now their stock is 96% below it’s peak in 1997.
If something feels stagnant and irrelevant in your life, let it go, at least mentally. Then, see what happens. Does some part of you feel relieved? If so, allow yourself to let go even though it might be uncomfortable at first. The payoff will be huge.
#2 – EMBRACE THE “WINTER OF CHANGE”
Why do people fail to let go when they need to? Transitions can be uncomfortable, especially when you are between two worlds. You can’t go back to the old, but you haven’t yet found your way with the new. We call it the “winter of change”. It’s when the old harvest is now gone and the new one needs time before it can manifest.
The “winter of change” can be barren and cold. In this stage, you can feel lost, lethargic, lacking a sense of meaning in life. These are normal experiences during the winter season of your creative life. While it may be summer outside, it can feel like winter inside. Many people think there is something wrong with them during this phase, so they don’t reach out for help. They try to ignore it or to anaesthetize it. Unfortunately, that can mean that you miss out on the next harvesting of your life journey.
There are cycles in everyone’s life when it feels like the great harvest you experienced before in your life will never happen again. During this stage, a subterranean part of your psyche is replenishing itself and getting you ready for what’s next. This is the time in your cycle of growth when you need the most support and the time you’re least likely to ask for it.
Carl Jung a great thought-leader in the field of psychology, once said: “Depression is often the empty stillness which precedes creative work.” Once you realize this it can create a sense of safety to just be okay with this stage. In fact, for some people this reframe alone can make it sometimes a fascinating, rather than an uncomfortable process. The good news is that embracing of the process helps you move through it more quickly.
#3 – PREPARE FOR THE “SPRING OF CHANGE”
Gardeners will plant bulbs, fertilize the soil and loosen the ground to get ready for Spring. Metaphorically, you can do this, too. This is a good time to learn new things, plant the seeds of new ideas and let yourself rest.
After having survived many Winters of Change, I prepare myself and my clients for this barren period of life. I have created a tried-and-true Art of Reinvention – 5 Step Process. It helps you:
- reframe this journey so that you suffer less and enjoy it more
- avoid the pitfalls that often happen during the winter of change – for example addictive behaviors, creating drama, relationship breakdowns, health issues, financial issues. etc.
- plant the right seeds so that you move into the Spring more quickly
This process is useful for anyone who is in transition, having left behind:
- a job or career (e.g. being a supervisor or running a business)
- a relationship (e.g. losing a friend, or going through a divorce)
- a role (e.g. being a parent, or being a volunteer)
- an identity (e.g. being single, being in your 40s)
It’s especially helpful if you haven’t gotten clear about what is next, or more importantly how you want do what’s next in your life. Check out The Art of Reinvention process here.
Just remember, it takes courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful for you. There is actually more security in taking an adventure into the new, because in movement there is life and vitality again.