I’m a master of re-invention. If I was a rock star, I’d be Madonna.
Remember when she had that cute gap between her two front teeth and dried her sweaty armpits in a public bathroom hand dryer in Desperately Seeking Susan? Almost zero resemblance to the woman of today who speaks with a slight British accent for no discernible reason and doesn’t perspire even when she’s dancing her middle aged brains out during the Super Bowl halftime show.
But maybe that’s a bad example. I actually liked the old Madonna better, sweaty armpits and all.
Nevertheless, she (and I) are two people who prove that you can, in fact, be born an alley cat and grow up to be a tiger. Or a wolf. Or any damn thing you want to be.
My early reinventions of myself are nothing I am proud of. I was merely reacting to a primal desire to belong, to get attention, to be loved. But as a thinking, non-reactive adult, I have found great joy and growth in intentional reinvention.
Here is my method, which I believe will work for anyone, anywhere, with a modicum of creativity and drive.
1) Recognize the need for change.
How do we know we need some kind of change in our lives? Any feeling of lacking, be it spiritual, physical, financial or relational is a huge red flag that something is not working.
Pay attention. We only get one life, we must not squander it on “good enough.”
2) View fear as excitement.
The primary reason we avoid change is that it goes hand in hand with fear. Taking bold steps to alter the course of our lives means taking risks—what if we fail?
Don’t be afraid; we can’t fail.
Any sincere attempt to better ourselves will result in just that—betterment—whether it comes in the form we anticipated or in the guise of failure.
Every experience is valuable and can be loaded into our toolbox for later use. Everything we try, whether we “succeed” at it or not, adds dimension to who we are, depth to our experience and precious knowledge we can draw upon for the rest of our lives.
Try to view your fear instead as excitement—excitement that you have the power to transform your own reality.
Who are we when the endless voices screaming in our head telling us who we should be go away?
We’ll never find out if we don’t get still enough to hear our true voice—that soft whisper inside our heart that has all the answers.
Dedicate some time to tuning out the craziness in your head and tuning into that whisper. Go outside and walk or ride a bike. Allow yourself to meander with no set goal in mind. Observe your thoughts as they come and go. Notice the negative thoughts that come up over and over again—those point to the path you don’t want to walk down.
“I can’t leave this relationship because I’ll never find anyone to love me.” “I can’t go back to school because I’m too old.” “I’ll never be able to get healthy because I don’t have the willpower.”
Then notice the thoughts that give you little bursts of joy. Does you brain try to shut those thoughts down immediately with more negativity? If so, you’re onto something. Those are the places where your true desires are hiding.
4) Write it down.
After we’ve spent days, weeks or months allowing ourselves to meditate, be still and dream, we will have a clearer idea of who we are and who we want to be. Now how do we make that happen?
Have the courage to write your dream down. It can be one sentence. It need not be shared with anyone else. It should be kept in a sacred place. The act of putting your vision into concrete words is a powerful way to begin to manifest your dream.
When you are afraid, or sad, or alone, take out the words you wrote and read them again. You will feel a resurgence of hope and strength.
Dreams are great, but they can’t become reality without a concrete foundation.
Find out every single thing you can about the direction you want to move in. We’re lucky to live in a time when we can explore any idea with the touch of a button—take advantage of that. Also, reach out to others who have some experience doing or being what you want to be or do. Most people love sharing insights about their own journey.
Ultimately, your goal is to become an expert—it will go a long way toward allaying anxiety and also toward realizing your next step.
6) Develop a general plan.
After you’ve researched, pick the most viable way to make the change you envision.
We all must work within limitations, be they financial, circumstantial or otherwise, but I promise you the old adage is true—if there is a will, there’s a way.
Be willing to dedicate all your available resources toward your reinvention; time, money, energy. Remember, these resources can’t be wasted, because you can’t fail.
There comes a time—and you’ll know when it is—that you simply have to jump in the water and swim.
This is the most critical moment of our reinvention. We must have faith that no matter what happens when we hit the water, we’ll stay afloat. It might be messy, people on both shores might laugh at us, we might have to tread water before we get across the pond but eventually, stroke by stroke, we’ll find the way.
Even if we don’t, what’s the worst case scenario?
Some of you might say, “I could die!”
But that’s not it. The worst case scenario is sitting with your toes in the water never having tried at all. A life un-lived. A dream un-realized.
We are all so much more than we know—give yourself the chance to uncover your shine.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Erica Leibrandt
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Denise Krebs/Flickr