The concept of reinventing yourself seems to be a popular topic in recent years. Perhaps this is a reflection of a general unhappiness many people are experiencing currently. Or maybe this is a timeless human trait: After we have met the minimum conditions for survival, we begin to look around and ask ourselves if there might be a better way to live our life. This post explores changing our habitual way of thinking, a precondition for reinventing our life.
For most people reading this, recent advances of technology and the increased discretionary time brought about by those advances, mean that we live in an environment rich in opportunities for taking our life in new directions. Internet access allows us to digitally observe lifestyles around the globe and realize that we are not limited to the roles available in our immediate physical environment.
However, the very first step in the reinvention process doesn’t require moving to a new time zone like I did. It doesn’t even require a coach, a role model, or a self-help book. If you are deeply discontented, living what Thoreau called a life of “quiet desperation”, the very first step to reinvent your life is to change your thinking.
This comes before any clarification and focusing on the exact physical changes. It comes before any classes or online courses, and before detailed planning and gathering of resources. This rethinking comes before the studying and staging, before the first action steps, and before any announcements or commitments. It even comes before you make the conscious decision to change. All those things are part of the process but the very first step of reinventing yourself is to recognize that it is possible for you to make such a change, that you are not stuck forever where you are now. This epiphany marks the beginning of rethinking. First you change your thinking; then you change how you live your life.
In a prehistoric hunter-gatherer society, group-think was enforced and useful. Following the crowd was wise, even essential. Individuals did, after all, depend upon being accepted by the family or tribe or clan. They needed the group for protection from a hostile environment. There was a definite risk in breaking the tribal norms. It was more than just lonely if you were cast out of the group; it was dangerous to be alone in the woods.
But those societies were rather static; doing things the same old way carried very little downside. Modern technology had not yet appeared to create wide gaps between those who used technology and those who refused to adopt the changes technology brought. Until fairly modern times, the king and the beggar both depended on a simple fire for staying warm; they both walked or rode a horse for getting places. The differences between them was hardly measurable.
In today’s world, that gap is very real and is rapidly getting wider. You may master the latest apps available on your smart phone or see the amazing boosts in effectiveness brought about by utilizing artificial intelligence. But, while you are benefiting from all the possibilities available today, you may be standing next to someone who is still confounded by operating an elevator. Even with the efforts to make apps foolproof, if you are to truly utilize the technology, you must learn to use it effectively. Artificial intelligence cannot provide answers to help you if you don’t know how to ask questions.
It is true that you cannot force someone to think; you cannot make people consider the consequences of their actions or become aware of all the possibilities open to them. But, that is the nameless herd; there is no excuse for you as an individual not initiating changes in your own life. If you get cast out into the cold and dark woods, you will find other individuals there to join for mutual support and protection.
If you never examine your habitual way of thinking, you cannot change your habits. If you fail to open your eyes to see new and improved ways of doing things, you will never take the first step in reinventing yourself. The process doesn’t begin with a physical relocation; it starts with thinking… or, rather, rethinking.
So, where are you on this path of reinventing yourself? And, what is holding you back?