“I was never surprised that they did not have a phoenix on display. There is only one phoenix at a time, of course, and while the Natural History Museum was filled with dead things, the phoenix is always alive.” ~ Neil Gaiman, Unnatural Creatures
“Fawkes is a phoenix, Harry. Phoenixes burst into flame when it is time for them to die and are reborn from the ashes.” ~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Just as the Phoenix of ancient mythology could be reborn, we humans love to reinvent ourselves — in effect start over with a revised persona and fresh outlook — whether rarely, occasionally or perpetually. Reinvention can either be desired or prompted because we are dissatisfied, bored or deeply concerned with a particular situation or our status in general.
As we approach each New Year, this desire to reinvent ourselves becomes stronger. At the very least most of us want to renew our spirits, energy and motivation (spring is another time these feelings arise in us).
Starting over seems to be the theme as we draw up those lists of New Year’s Resolutions. But, so often we fail to renew, regroup or reinvent ourselves productively because making those New Year’s Resolutions isn’t enough. To reinvent oneself successfully it’s essential to have motivation and vision, along with a strategic plan.
Milestone Occasions to Reinvent
I think it’s exciting and healthy to reinvent oneself at certain points in one’s life. Some milestone occasions come to mind:
- Entering high school
- Entering college
- Starting your first internship or job
- Moving to a new neighborhood, city or country
- Changing careers
- Falling in love
- Becoming a spouse, parent or grandparent
- Upon retirement
- Coming into a windfall (inheriting, winning the lottery, etc.)
Other times it might be necessary to change one’s current situation, in small and large ways, by:
- Dealing proactively with a problem at school, on campus or at work
- Moving out of your parents’ home, splitting with a roommate or moving to a new house or apartment
- Breaking up with your significant other
- Changing your hairstyle or hair color
- Fixing your teeth
- Losing or gaining weight
- Changing your style and wardrobe
- Working out or taking dance lessons
- Developing new leadership skills
- Becoming more authoritative and outgoing
- Taking command of business and personal situations
“Focus On Your Future Self”
Whatever it is that you wish to change for the better and whichever methods you employ to bring about your reinvention — or renewal or regrouping — envision your goals and start working toward them systematically. As Rebecca Webber’s recent Psychology Today article, states — along with other pearls of wisdom, “…when you learn to focus on your future self, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.” To me that means leaving your Past Self behind with all its baggage, problems and insecurities and concentrate on making your envisioned and desirable Future Self your new Present Self. In doing so, you’ll be better positioned to:
- Solve that campus or workplace problem (difficult boss or professor, uncooperative team member or classmate, office bully, slow job growth, unreasonable assignments, lack of solid academic advice or professional development, etc.)
- Land that dream internship, job or promotion
- Expand your network within your college, company or industry
- Negotiate successfully for that promotion, manager, mentor, class, professor, plum assignment or committee chair
- Make that important major or career change
- Overcome a fear in order to advance in college or workplace (public speaking, managing a project, air travel, working with arthropods and reptiles, leading a team, etc.)
Path to Renewal, Regrouping and Reinvention
Once your motivation is in place, design your plan to renew, regroup or reinvent yourself. Even small changes in your daily routine can refresh yourself enough to produce big gains. Thus, whether you wish to renew your spirit, health, skills, energy or incentives, regroup in the face of a very challenging situation, or completely reinvent yourself, consistent and determined baby steps can get you there just as surely — and maybe more successfully – as giant leaps. Remember the childhood story of The Tortoise and the Hare?
What Are You Waiting For?
If you don’t feel you need to renew, unsure of how to regroup or are hesitant to reinvent yourself, keep in mind that such powerful individuals as Hillary Clinton, Serena Williams, and Steve Jobs renewed, regrouped and reinvented themselves. Successful people often reinvent themselves, and it’s essential to renew and regroup periodically to stay on track, as well as to advance. As Victorian poet Robert Browning said, “My sun sets to rise again”; if you’re to be a rising star in whatever you, be diligent in ensuring that your sun also rises (apologies to Ernest Hemingway).
Change is good; you can feel rejuvenated by shaking things up and adopting a new outlook. Often it’s just plain necessary for academic or professional survival. This year when you draw up your New Year’s Resolutions, make them meaningful; fashion them as integral parts of your 2015 Strategic Plan to Renew, Regroup and Reinvent!
Until next year,