I was speaking with a friend the other day who is reinventing her life in huge and profound ways. We talked about how the word “reinvention” sounds so big and daunting. “Isn’t it just a natural and growing evolution?” she asked. Well, yes and no. In her “reinvention”, she is breaking through lots of beliefs and assumptions about herself and where she fits in the world. Her external, day-to-day life clearly looks different than it did a couple of years ago. Her question also suggests that she is evolving – reinventing - internally.
Everywhere I turn, there are people who are facing major change, whether they want to or not. They have just been laid off from a favorite and lucrative job, or have chosen to end one phase of a career not knowing for sure what the next phase will look like, or have come to the natural end of a major phase of child rearing with empty nesting staring them square in the face. Or have just been laid off right in the midst of becoming an empty nester! Change happens. Reinvention is optional.
Reinvention is the internal game of unleashing yourself from old habits, thought patterns and beliefs. In other words, situations change, people may not. We all have our go-to strategies for how we make decisions, deal with difficult colleagues, view our ability to lead, take in unexpected information, create new things or any of the other myriad conversations we have in day-to-day life. Our strategies tend to fall on a continuum, from old habits to fresh, in-the-moment responses, and everything in between. Rarely do we see those old habits for what they are, built when we were young and vulnerable, trying to figure out how the world works. Our lazy brain says “It worked then, it will work now.” So we react like we always have, and therefore get what we have always gotten.
Our brains build such an effective shortcut, we don’t even see the choice between the situation and our choice in what to do about it. We hire the same kind of people and wonder what went wrong. We withdraw from (or fight) with difficult colleagues, and wonder where all the good people are. We fail to step up to the leadership moment and wonder why we didn’t get the promotion. We become so accustomed to the role we are playing, we lose our true identity in the position, forgetting the amazing human being we are under all the trappings of money and power. It’s time to wake up. It’s possible to rewire our brains. We are free to be.
We are so much more than our bodies and our brains. Are you bringing the same person you have always been to each new situation, or are you shedding old, non-useful habits as you learn and grow?
Let me hear from you. What are you reinventing inside yourself? Where do you feel stuck? What makes you feel alive? What beliefs, assumptions or patterns, if you were to change then, would make the most difference in the quality of your life?
Reinvention happens one baby step, one tiny choice, one breath at a time. So yes, I guess you could equate it with a natural evolution!