And when I say reinvent yourself, I am not just talking about taking a new job. Most likely, you will have many jobs over the course of your lifetime. When I say reinvent yourself, I am talking about changing careers. I am referring to how you spend your time professionally.
Although it can certainly be broadened to include your personal life, hobbies, anything you want, for purposes of this article, I am talking about what you do for a living.
Why Reinvent Yourself
If you use 15 years as a realistic timeframe to become an expert in most fields, starting around the age of 25, after you graduate from college, you’ll have the opportunity to reinvent yourself 3 or 4 times over the course of your life. And if you live long enough and are driven enough, you might even extend that.
Of course, if you find something in your 20’s that grabs you and doesn’t let go, stick with it. But otherwise don’t be afraid to embrace change. I personally like the idea of experiencing new careers. This is one of the reasons I started this site.
In some cases, reinvention may not be an option – it may be forced upon you. And in a way, that might actually be easier. If you get laid off or find yourself suddenly unemployed for one reason or another, you may decide that now is the time to make a change.
But even if it isn’t forced, there are still many valid reasons to reinvent yourself. Maybe you left the workforce to raise a family years ago and now you’re looking for a way to start working again. Or maybe you’re just tired of catching the 5am train every morning for your two-hour commute and just want a change.
No matter what the reason, and no matter how big or how small the change, when you embark on the journey to reinvent yourself, you are making a leap of faith that something better is around the corner.
Stages of Life
Before the age of 25. While I don’t want to discount the experiences you gain before the age of 25, for many, those experiences revolve around family and school rather than on working a job and your career. You’ve been building a foundation that will serve you well over the coming years as you enter the workforce and begin to make real contributions to society. You’re probably eager to leave the academic world behind and begin earning money.
25 to 40. This is the first phase of your adult life. For some, this phase may start earlier. For others later. For many this is when you get your first real job that is probably related to the degree you just earned. But now you have left the academic world and the comfort of your parents’ financial security. You are making real money. You are spending money like never before. And hopefully, you are saving and investing money. It’s at this stage, that you decide how to define yourself. Maybe you get married and have kids. Maybe you decide to stay single.
40 to 55. As you reach your 40s, your outlook on life starts to change. Maybe you have started to question why you work. Financially, you have achieved success, but you don’t see much more upside, just more work. Things are great at home, but you are starting to see a time in the near future when the kids will leave the house and begin their own journey. Hopefully, you have been diligently saving and investing so you no longer feel the need to climb the corporate ladder and continue making more and more money. Your motivations are changing. You may even begin to have thoughts about your own mortality. Are your best years really behind you?
55 to 70. By this stage, you are wise and experienced. You have seen it all. If you had children, they are most likely already out of the house or nearly there. You have worked a number of different jobs over the years. You know what you’re looking for. If all has gone as planned, you are financially independent. You are now working for yourself. You are working for the challenges and enjoyment. If you don’t like how something looks, you can move on to something new.
70 and beyond. With life expectancy continuing to climb, who is to say that you need to retire at all? If you find something you enjoy, why not keep going with it? You will most likely want to slow down physically somewhat at this stage, but having a job as a senior is a great way to stay connected to other people and keep yourself sharp.
How to Reinvent Yourself
Once you have decided to reinvent yourself, the next step is to start figuring out what it is you want to do. As you progress, you may find new challenges blocking your road to success, but if you are persistent, you can work through anything that gets in your way.
To start you along the path, here are some suggestions for making the process go as smoothly as possible:
- Leverage the knowledge and experience already gained. Although you hear stories of people going back to school for second careers, this can be challenging. If you’ve been in business and have the urge to go back to medical school, I am not going to dissuade you. But just remember, if you incur significant cost to get another degree, you will have less time to recoup that investment.
- Consider turning your hobby into a profession. Are there any hobbies you have developed that can possibly turn into a career? If you have managed your money well, by the time you start looking for a second, third, or fourth career, you may find that money provides less motivation than it once did.
- Expect to make much less money. At least when you are starting out in a new career, don’t expect to be paid at the same level you were making in your old job. In your old role, you had twenty years of experience behind you allowing you to command a high salary and lofty title. Now you may find yourself competing with people half your age. Employers may question your skills. Have you kept up with changes in technology? Make sure you can sell yourself.
- Seek out the advice of others. Talk to your family and friends about what you are doing. Reach out to other people who have reinvented themselves. Once you have decided on an industry, contact companies in that space and meet with them. Professionals such as lawyers, bankers, accountants, and insurance agents are well-connected and can put you in contact with business owners who can help you get hired or start a new business.
- Be persistent. Don’t forget that your old job took many years to develop. You may run into obstacles as you attempt to reinvent yourself, but don’t let that stop you. Be patient and keep moving forward. If you keep at it, at some point, your momentum will take over and help propel you forward. You just need to overcome the initial resistance.
Have you tried to reinvent yourself? How many times? What was the process you went through? How did it turn out?