To Reinvent Yourself, Start by Saying NO

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Every day, we are on a path to reinvention — whether we realize it or not. Life is not static. It’s directional! With each and every decision we make daily, you reinvent yourself. We are pointing ourselves toward one life destination or another.

Reinvention is a matter of reinforcement or redirection. Thus, it’s important to be mindful about how we allocate our time and commitments. To get the life you want, you might have to learn to say NO to old habits and comfort defaults.

Reinventing is a popular topic for Prime women.

We’ve reached a satisfactory level of achievement in many areas of life. But, because we are living longer and taking better care of ourselves, there are many more options for extended years of work/life experiences.

Reinventing has become a life passage for many Prime women. (Remember Gail Sheehy’s popular book Passages?) In some cases, reinvention has roots in a life crisis such as death, disease or divorce — whereby we close one door and enter another. But, often it’s simply a matter of been there/done that. We have a deep sense that it’s time to move forward, to borrow the mantra of Don Draper from the television show Mad Men.

“Living well” is a favorable state of being to which many of us aspire. The topic is explored here in a Prime Women post. This is a more subtle way to reinvent yourself that infers more enjoyment and less obligation — a well-deserved reward proposition after many years of hard work. It means different things to different people. The good news: You are the decider!

Some Prime women have a razor-sharp vision of reinvention after long tenures in an earlier, chosen career. My friend and former client, Belinda Hernandez, said NO to another corporate gig and YES to her passion for interior design. Belinda has an unerring eye, a buttoned-up business approach and the high-pedigree sales experience to deliver the caliber of clients and revenue stream that are a Perfect Fit with her current stage-of-life. If you are lucky enough to already know your dream, take the plunge and go for it!

Others reinvent with a hybrid approach. Julie England, another Prime Women contributor, retired from a brilliant career at Texas Instruments. No surprise, she is in demand for corporate Board of Director roles. But, she also tapped into her artistic gifts with a serious study and pursuit of painting. She reinvented a life that fully utilizes her range of left-brain/analytical + right-brain/creative traits.

If you are on the threshold — desiring reinvention, but unsure of the destination — don’t be deterred. Start by clearing the decks. Say NO to the physical and visual clutter in your life that distract and detract from focus. Dive into the Magic of Tidying, an intense-but-worth-it process by organizing guru Marie Kondo.

Kondo starts with imagineering the pleasures of a newly-serene life. Then she puts you through the paces of purging that are weighing you down and keeping you rooted in the past. This builds muscle for the type of bigger YES/NO decision-making that will get you to your future, reinvented life.

Pioneering ad legend Mary Wells Lawrence offers a reinvention formula in a fascinating interview via The Girls’ Lounge. To reinvent yourself, you have to “double yourself,” she says.

     “Start changing everything you do. Go to new restaurants or travel destinations. Buy different clothes, and read new books. You’ll be amazed how fast reinvention can happen, according to this savvy game-changer. You will be more interesting, more intelligent and worth more money.”

But reinvention is not pain-free. I asked psychologist Angela Duckworth, author of the new blockbuster book GRIT, for insights during her recent book tour stop in Dallas. If you don’t have a preconceived plan, the first step to reinvent yourself is active exploration. “Develop your interests before you train your weaknesses.” What delivered a certain spark in your earlier life? Apparently, Julia Child’s passion for food was sparked the first time she tasted sole meunière.

Keep in mind that reinvention requires GRITpersistence, perseverance and determination. Take time to experience, Duckworth says. Be patient. Don’t be discouraged. Remember that frustration can be a sign of growth!


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