The six most important skills for reinventing your life

The Author

E. Alana James

E. Alana James

Dr E Alana James is reinventing herself again! Coming full circle to the first love of her life - art - and bringing back to her images all the lessons of her life as author, researcher, academic and wife. Concerned mostly with the idea of images as vehicles for expression of the truth of our inner and outer life experience.

Maybe your life is transforming. Whether you are a student, a person just made redundant or about to retire, you are facing a transition in your life and you can use these ideas to help your subconscious mind work for you. As I started this article I have just finished a few weeks of talking with doctoral students in management and education from all over the United States (and a small bit of the world).

They are worried, they are excited, they are reinventing or transforming their lives in an environment when most do not know what will come next. Working with this diverse group I realized that there are certain ideas in personal mastery training that we need to have in order to facilitate easy change in our lives.

What are the six most important things for people in the midst of reinventing their lives to consider?

1. You must be able to access your sense of well-being or spirit – that part of you that feels alive and that part of us likes new things and new adventures. If, as an example your business or school just announced layoffs – then the flip side is also true – there will be new opportunities. A friend of mine in business points out that when plants close small businesses open – when schools downsize, tutoring and online opportunities increase. At all costs address a morale issue square on and do what you can at every moment to turn your mood and your confidence around.

2. Assumptions get in your way. The world is changing as dramatically as if you just moved to a foreign country. As someone who did just that a few years ago I can tell you that assumptions shoot yourself in the foot. Just because people acted a certain way before and it meant X does not mean that into today’s environment they are actually doing something at least partially different yet putting out the same clues. An example here is to listen to subtle phrases as messages with importance. “Take care of”, “institute” etc are action verbs that may be implying a new type of action that you have not perceived of before now.

3. Flexibility moves you ahead – there are multiple paths to the top, try as many as you can access. Once you get rid of your assumptions you will find you begin to ask creative questions. Look at a circumstance from multiple points of view. Imagine yourself the boss, the man who takes out the rubbish, the client and the bookkeeper, what do they all have to say about every new idea you consider?

4. Learn one new thing or explore one new idea at minimum every day. Find blogs you like and then set them up on a Google reader account so their new ideas come into your computer without any work on your part. When you read things, follow the links. Sign up for new networking services. Comment on others work and begin to write your own. This will help you accomplish two outcomes: 1) it will boost your confidence as you become adept at new technologies, and 2) it will put you in touch with new ideas – somewhere along the way they will begin to pay off.

5. Remember that you have to “die” to what was, and then go through a neutral space before you can really take off with something new. This is the wisdom of William Bridges in his fantastic book Transitions (which we highly recommend if you are feeling funky about the changes in your life) and he reminds us that done out of sequence, new beginnings often fizzle out. What do you need to mourn? What stage of grief are you in? Have you allowed yourself to feel the anger, denial, and loss of the death of the life you have? Perhaps you are still caught in the dying stages, feel them and this will hasten new growth.

6. Allow the rich neutral zone (again thank you to William Bridges) to claim you. I always imagine this as a foggy swamp. I can’t go anywhere fast; it’s a little scary, and every new wisp of smoke takes my imagination a different direction. Follow your instincts and research the ideas you like best but let the neutral zone own you until your Soul is done with the planning. One day a new sunrise will take place in your outlook on life and then you will know it is time to put into practice the ideas you hatched during the process.

I hope that these thoughts are helpful, if you want to comment on any general or specific ideas that come to mind we can continue the conversation about the skills folks need to reinvent themselves. Which ones would make your six best list?

E. Alana James, Ed.D. writes, speaks, and consults with individuals, businesses and universities on the use of action research and other scientifically based processes that engender change.