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When Life Gets in the Way of Reinvention...

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

If you think about my career as a road map, you might imagine a cross country trip on Route 66. I have a plan. I have a destination. But I also have an insatiable curiosity. That curiosity has allowed me to take in the sights, read the billboards along the way and make a few unexpected stops. Life’s an adventure and I’ve enjoyed the ride.

So…why is it so hard to reinvent yourself? Why can’t we all just click our heels three times and be done with it?  Well, life. Life gets in the way.

That said, it’s possible. I know it is because I’ve reinvented myself multiple times. And I’m quite sure I’ll do it again. With that in mind, let’s talk about the roadblocks I know are out there, and how to maneuver around them instead of slamming into them head on.

Reinvention Roadblock #1: Maybe, you don’t really want to travel this new route.

If you feel like there’s always something more important in the way, then maybe this new route isn’t really for you.

Here’s a real-life example. A friend invited me to co-found a tech company around workplace culture. Now, anybody who knows me knows I’m all about workplace culture. So a chance to be a co-founder in this purposeful space is a dream offer right? But the truth was, once I said “yes”, I realized I didn’t want to build somebody else’s dream. While I was excited by the idea of it, I wasn’t passionate about the actual work. So I cut my losses and figured out what I really wanted – a month later, I launched my business.

Takeaway: Ask yourself: Do I really want this reinvention I keep talking about? Or do I actually want something else? What is that something else? Start exploring to find out.

Reinvention Roadblock #2: You’re carrying too much baggage.

If you want to make a change, some of the things you used to expend energy on are going to have to go by the wayside. You might not realize it, but saying ‘yes’ to a new dream, means you’ll simultaneously say ‘no’ to something else – old patterns, habits, routines and yes, even some people.

If you’re rolling down the road right now and can’t see out the rearview mirror because of all that ‘life’ mess in your backseat and trunk…It’s time to toss the old to make room for the new.

Takeaway: You can’t do it all.  So when you make that new commitment to your dream, do you recognize what you’re saying no to?

Reinvention Roadblock #3: You’re fooled by detours.

It’s easy to get distracted by things that aren’t contributing to your reinvention. For example, you might be one of those people who prides themselves in always clearing the deck—you know, answer every single email, fix every bug, dot every “i.”

But here’s the thing: when you decide to level up, some of the small stuff needs to fall to the wayside, and you, my friend, need to focus on the important part: the road that’s ahead of you.

Takeaway: Don’t let those detours distract you from your main focus: the road to a new life. Keep your foot on the gas and your hand on the wheel, and trust that those pesky less important things will take care of themselves.

Look… life isn’t going to stop just because you’ve decided to reinvent yourself. You’ve got to check your route, toss out the trash and keep your eyes on the road. Bon voyage!


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