I began my career in the late 80’s as an international conference planner. Since then, I’ve been a marketing and public relations director, I’ve owned a furniture resource and distribution company, a girl’s clothing company and now I lead a corporate image consulting firm.
Which of these jobs is not like the other? The answer is all of them! But there was a little bit in each that inspired me to grow, change, and travel a different direction on my professional journey. Each time I reinvented myself, I carried with me a level of experience, confidence and knowledge from my previous work that made me perfect for my next “dream career” venture!
Reinvention doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a neurosurgeon after being a car salesman for 10 years. Change of direction can mean big changes or not. We actually grow and change, hopefully, a little every day. To truly change our course direction though, we have to decide to turn the steering wheel!
Proven Steps to Reinventing Yourself
Start with a vision of your future self in your career
Do you remember being asked as a child what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you remember what you answered? Do you remember what you felt? If you wanted to be a fireman, you saw yourself in the uniform with the blazing red hat, driving an imposing truck through city streets, climbing a three story ladder and blasting a river of water through a massive hose. There was no fear of getting hurt; there was only the excitement of being a hero!
You proudly answered the question because your vision lead you. So, what do you want to be when you “grow up”? Who do you want to be? What do you want your life to look like? Do you feel the desire and passion for your future self or future job that you felt as a child? If you want change, you can make that change, but you must know what you want to be when you grow up–and not just in general. You must envision all the details and work toward them with passion.
Consider your strengths and your flaws and know them well
We all have flaws and strengths. Many times our strengths are underutilized, and in our frustration, we succumb to our flaws. In the early nineties, I worked as a marketing manager in a museum. Working for a non-profit, I wore several hats in my position. I recall several projects that did not require my strengths or talents; just my work. These projects brought out the worst in me and mainly because I was not receptive to criticism of my work (the delivery of that criticism is a different story, for another time).
It sometimes takes a rumbling gut of personal discontent to make us face our flaws. But we all have them and the sooner you understand them, the better. Which of your flaws is holding you back? What can you do to turn a flaw around? Consider your strengths. Are you using your strengths to your benefit to get you where you want to go? Yes, this is a good time to make that “strengths and weaknesses” list. Once you do, don’t just set it aside. Take it to heart. Promote your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
Educate yourself every day
Once you define and envision the person you want to become or the career you want to have, your knowledge of that field is critical. Education, knowledge and experience are the stuff that give us breadth, depth and validity. We can educate ourselves everyday through books, training, courses, conversations, lectures and research. Meet the people who inspire you!Who do you want to emulate? There is a Greek saying that loosely translates to “you are who you learn from”.
We are tremendously influenced by those who surround us—our friends, family, teachers, co-workers, and mentors. Consider everyone around you and what you can learn from them. Immerse yourself in the life and experience that you want to live. Surround yourself with the people who share your passion and focus.
Don’t forget your social media
You have to shout it from the mountain tops–this is who I am! In the twenty-first century, that mountain top is social media. Blog about your journey regularly. We all want to know that we may have something in common with those amazing people who “just do it”. Invite readers to your posts through the various social media platforms. Create and share content that speaks about your new-found passion. Be authentic in what you share.
Tell your own story which includes successes, failures, trials and tribulations! It takes time, but you will gather a following. Believe it or not, your passion will be inspirational! What I’ve learned in my social media journey is that you must be consistent–with the message you deliver, your subject and your timing.
Take the leap of faith
“But I need an income during my transition,” you say. I get it. Through every transition, I kept one foot in my old career while I prepared for the next one. I worked long and hard all the time because I was afraid of not having an income. And to be honest, sometimes I didn’t have an income, which happens often on an entrepreneurial journey. The first time I went into business for myself in the late nineties, I was actually working as retail furniture rep.
While I amassed my own contacts and furniture sources I represented another company’s product. I then stepped out and started my own contract resource firm with faith and confidence. Change is scary. Your grit, perseverance, passion and faith will catch you. Every time. I promise. You have to know that there is no loss or failure in what you do—you either win or learn. That perspective will catch you.