Self-awareness can be like getting the keys to a Ferrari- but it’s worthless if the…
Recently, I resigned from my job as a speech pathologist in a hospital, a position I had held for 24 years. What’s more, I now have no hospital affiliation whatsoever for the first time since 1980. My position at this hospital was on-call, but I hadn’t worked there in over a year. In all honesty, I should have dropped out long before that because I had plenty of other endeavors to work on such as continuing to do cognitive rehabilitation for the Courage Center, training to be a life coach, completing my Myers-Briggs certification, developing a blog and a website and taking on my first coaching clients. I assemble this list not to say, “Oh look how busy I am.” It’s to make clear that I was clinging to something that I had no room for in my life anymore. Clearly, hospital work was my security blanket. In fact, even when I was in college and graduate school, I worked in a hospital as a patient transporter/lab specimen runner. So it is easy to see why dropping my affiliation with a hospital was no easy process! However, it was an important moment when I realized that I was ready to leave the cocoon that was my identity for so many years.
There are many reasons why an individual embarks on reinventing himself. In today’s economy, some people are forced to make that change due to a job loss. Others may be dissatisfied because they are performing jobs that are not tapping into their greatest strengths. Sometimes money and compensation is the issue. Other times, there is a restlessness that must be addressed. No matter what the reason, in most cases, there are 3 major stages that you visit and re-visit once you decide to reinvent yourself.
Stage 1: This is the discovery stage. Usually you have a vague notion that you want to or must do something different. Perhaps you research ideas on the internet or you read books to try to zero in on a set of possibilities. This is a dreamer’s stage and it is full of energy and possibilities. You don’t need much motivation at this stage because it seems to drive itself. Often this stage is accompanied by taking a few steps in the direction of that dream. The first thing I did was research coaching schools and when I found one that I liked, I enrolled. It was really exciting to go through the first few rounds of classes but then when I started to notice it wasn’t an exact fit for me, I passed into stage 2.
Stage 2: This is the stage of self-doubt or your a reality check. You discover that your dream isn’t a perfectly carved path and that you might need to make some adjustments. In my case, I chose to add to my skill set with other tools such as learning the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instruments. I leaned heavily on my best friend and coach who gave me useful feedback and encouragement when the vision got murky. There were several exciting moments when I felt like the dreamer again and everything was new and exciting. I had a new scheme to try! However, that was usually followed by another reality check. I had to learn to refine my vision or simply be patient. I even had to be willing to take feedback (Ugh!). An individual can get discouraged when going back and forth between the dreamer and the reality check stages without realizing that it is actually a proving ground for resilience and stability in your new role. You have to spend some time going among several dreams and reality checks in order to thrive in the final stage of self-invention.
Stage 3: The final stage is the stage of confidence or momentum. Here some of the groundwork you have laid is finally beginning to pay-off. Perhaps you receive a referral from someone who was present during one of your free seminars that you gave months ago. Maybe you made an impression on someone that you didn’t even know was listening. You know you have arrived when there is no longer an inertia that you have to overcome every time you set out to achieve your goals. You sense momentum and your confidence builds as a result. Certainly there will be more reality checks and occasionally you might even start to dream of something altogether new again. However, when you get to this stage, there is usually enough energy to draw you back to your vision.
The process of reinventing yourself is exciting, at times scary, but ultimately rewarding. The exciting part is when you are energized by the possibilities for the future. The scary part is when you have to push through moments of self-doubt or disappointment. The rewarding part is when you finally overcome the inertia and feel the flow. Once you achieve this, you can begin to shake yourself out of your cocoon and fly off to explore your new world.