Have you ever felt an important phase in your life is coming to a close? A time when you could foresee a major change on the horizon that has the potential to dramatically change your life? Throughout our lives, we experience major milestones as we transition from college to adulthood, from young adulthood to marriage or
parenthood, a mid-life crisis, and even a retirement. These are times in our lives when what we have been doing for years is no longer fulfilling, yet we can’t foretell our own futures. It can be a very unnerving time.
I remember such a time in my young adulthood when dating, finding new friends, beach going on the weekends, dedicating my non-work hours to the joy and discovery of the city and meeting new people started to lose* my interest.
The job that I had loved and been in for seven years seemed utterly flat. I was good at it, but my enthusiasm was gone. I wondered if I was depressed, but on closer inspection, I noticed I was simply done with a phase of my life. I had no idea where I was heading. It was time to re-invent myself!
Personal Re-Invention – A Primer
It may come as a surprise, but re-inventing yourself is a process! Here are the key steps in upgrading the current version of yourself into the next version of you!
Close the Chapter
The first step to re-invention is realizing you are about to close an important chapter of your life. This acknowledgment is critical to your sense of mental well-being. Hanging on to a life phase that has lost its vitality can cause a sense of emotional desperation, a feeling like your vital spirit is being tamped down or caged.
Acknowledging a chapter of your life is coming to a close can be a liberating experience as you become aware that you are shedding an old skin and embarking on a new adventure. Honor this change in your life and take the time to actually – or figuratively – close this chapter of your life.
Perhaps you can journal the highs and lows of this closing chapter, reflect back and put into words what the purpose of the chapter has been. Review all the nooks and crannies of your closing chapter – don’t hold back. What skills and character traits did you cultivate, what challenges did you overcome, what do you wish you had done differently, what over-riding contribution to others did you make during this period.
Finally, make a formal ‘Closing of the Chapter’ ritual. Share a nice meal or glass of wine with friends signifying your chapter’s close. Have them offer you supportive comments to both close this last chapter and begin a new one. Title your chapter.
Journey Through the Wilderness
Welcome to the middle, or liminal space – that time when you leave the past behind and begin to build the next version of you. This phase can cause the best of us confusion and consternation if we resist its uncertainty; it does dish up a fair share of anxiety entering the unknown. Perhaps you know where you are headed, or maybe you need to enter a time of personal self- discovery.
Time in the wilderness is best spent exploring who you want to be as you grow into the next phase of your life. This is not a personal metric like earn $200K a year, become a Vice President or lose* 30 pounds; these are goals. Rather, the question is ‘Who do I want to be in 10 years, or 20? How will I carry myself? What values do I hold dear? What type of things might I be doing? What contribution do I want to make that would make this life chapter fulfilling?
The time you spend in the wilderness is ultimately a mental and spiritual leap forward. Follow your interests: What do you want to learn? What ideas seem to be calling you forward? This is the time to imagine – it all its richness – the fully desired you.
Journal your time in the wilderness. None of your ideas need to stick, allow yourself to be fluid in your imagination knowing the next month (or day – or year) might lead you in another direction. Many of your ideas will stick and become central to the things you do. In fact, those that do stick will become the core of your identity. This is the central alignment of your true self to all that you do in your next chapter.
Your time in the wilderness or re-discovery is a gradual process. Don’t expect to have all your answers fit a timetable. Life doesn’t happen that way and the best-laid plans...
Learn Into Your Future
Taking the next steps forward in re-inventing yourself involves a significant amount of relearning. This is the time to explore new networks of people you will be working with, living with or being in community with. You will need more skills than you have now. You may need additional leadership skills, relationship skills, you may need to cultivate patience, or you might need to learn a new profession.
Learning into your future requires that you move into this new chapter of your life fully equipped mentally, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Learn new skills and take risks as you pursue new goals. Reflect on your progress and anticipate what you need to learn next.
This part of re-invention can seem daunting as if you need to pull yourself up by the bootstraps – which you do. This is a period of intense learning and skill mastery requiring your passion and long-term persistence.
Perhaps now is the time to find your new job, deepen a relationship or make a career change. Allow your new life to gather momentum as each day you add a little more learned experience to your repertoire. Never look back.
Re-Invention – The Next Chapter of Your Life
By now you know your re-invented version of yourself has become rooted in daily life. Now, instead of feeling like you need to pull yourself up by the bootstraps you feel as if you have arrived. You have found your stride and are achieving mastery.
Now is the time to reflect back on the previous chapter of your life. Revisit the experience of how life was when you recognized you needed to close one of life’s important chapters and re-invent yourself.
From your new perspective journal your process of re-invention – recall how you recognized a re-invention was necessary, recall your time in the wilderness, congratulate yourself for all that you have learned and all that you have mastered during this remarkable time. Title your new life chapter such as “I became an author”, “Life after parenting”, and so on.
Personal re-invention is a significant and longer-term achievement that will characterize different milestones in our lives. Re-invention happens only a handful of times throughout life and mark great strides in our personal development, achievements and contributions to the world and our families.
Through these remarkable times have confidence in yourself, be generous with your self-compassion and allow yourself to deeply experience all the ups and downs that life has to offer.
Reprinted from April 6, 2018 - Consumer Health Digest
Contributor : Jenifer Zetlan
Jenifer Zetlan is an author, behaviorist and motivational speaker who is committed to helping people live inspired lives. With degrees in psychology and behavioral sciences from UCLA, she has led numerous seminars and classes in psychology, leadership and organization in University settings and throughout many Fortune 500 and non-profit organizations. Jenifer, author of The Incredible Power of Inspiration: Creating the Life You Yearn For, has been reading, studying and speaking in the areas of psychology, philosophy and spirituality for over 30 years. She is an ardent yoga practitioner and instructor in the Bay Area. Connect with her on Facebook and visit her website.
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