Everything in life goes through a phase of reinvention. From the beginning of creation, till now, there have been several rebirths in nature, in the evolution of human beings and animals, in the innovation of new technologies, etc. Even the things we are not so fond of, such as diseases have managed to reinvent themselves through several biological processes. This goes to prove that the only thing constant is change and to survive the endless wheel of change, you need to evolve not only with time.
A few weeks ago, as I was packing for a trip, I came across several old picture albums. There were photos of myself and my family as far back as 40 years ago. I would not say that I look very different from when I was much younger, but several things about myself had changed. My taste in clothing and hair styles had changed. My body weight has been many numbers it is hard to keep track now. The way I speak, my level of confidence and the way I approach life now is drastically different from what it used to be back in the day. I may not have always been so intentional about reinventing myself. In fact, a while back, hard times pushed me to take drastic measures. It was the only way I could survive trying times.
Repeat research shows that innately, humans are constantly on the move to discover new things, be new things and accomplish new things. Experimentation, the need to solve challenges and the craving for adventure is the reason there have been several industrial revolutions. Many of us dream but even our dreams have not remained the same from the time we were children till this point in our lives. I remember at a very tender age telling everyone that bothered to ask what I wanted to be, that I wanted to be a doctor. Fast forward a few years after that, the influence of my father and grandmother’s love for business pushed me to explore the world of banking and finance. But at some point, I felt stuck. I believed there was more to me, there was more impact I could make beyond those walls. It was hard to make the decision to quit the life I had started building abroad. What it took was a lot of will power and psychological drive to decide to start a beauty a spa business knowing that the concept was foreign to my Ghanaian community.
In an article by Rebecca Webber in a Psychological Today paper, Ravenna Helson, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley shares her thoughts. “We have to modify our identities as we go through life”. She directed the Mills Study, which followed some 120 women over 50 years, examining personality traits, social influence, and personal development and proving in the process that it is never too late to reinvent yourself. “Even at 60,” Helson says, “people can resolve to make themselves more the people they would like to become. In the Mills Study, about a dozen women showed substantial positive personality change from ages 60 to 70.”
Just as companies change, so too must the people who run them. Entrepreneurs who are willing to go back to the drawing board are much more likely to succeed. Sometimes it means changing the course of the company, like the founders of Nokia or American Express. But sometimes reinvention means making personal changes, which can be most difficult of all. (Forbes, 2016)
Even animals have discovered that reinvention is key. There is a unique species of tiny jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea that takes reinvention one step further. When one of these jellyfish finds itself threatened, either by a predator or because of food scarcity, it takes drastic action. Rather than continuing to struggle and risk death, it literally rebirths itself. Its bell-shaped body and tentacles deteriorate and the whole creature reverts back to its earliest form, a polyp (think of a blob of cells). The jellyfish attaches itself to the seafloor and then begins to grow anew. It develops a stem and buds, and eventually the buds mature and break off as complete, free-swimming jellyfish. If that jellyfish one day finds itself in critical danger—or simply becomes old and weak—it can return back to polyp form and begin anew. There is no known limit to the number of lives the T. Dohrnii jellyfish can lead. (Forbes, 2016)
So why do people find it so difficult to adapt to change and reinvent themselves? I think that people who have not truly discovered who they are find it difficult to be in tune with themselves, such that they cannot decipher when it is time to push the wall, to cross over old boundaries and set new heights. Here is why self-awareness is so crucial for anyone to have in life. It is a gateway to understanding how you function as a person. There is nothing sadder than not fully being in tune with oneself to know how to help oneself perform at peak. “People need to understand their strengths, their weaknesses, their passions, and their own story,” says Robert Steven Kaplan, a Harvard Business School dean and the author of What You’re Really Meant to Do. “Then they can look at what’s going on in the world and try to match themselves up to opportunities.”
One challenge to self-evaluation: Most of us have a tendency towards illusory superiority—the belief that we are above average in our abilities, even though all of us can’t possibly be. That is why it is crucial to be brutally honest as you assess yourself and the effort needed to achieve the reinvention you seek. Discuss your dreams with people who care about you and know you well, and whom you trust to be honest with you about your strengths and weaknesses. They can help you gauge your skills and pinpoint your true passions.
Before I made a leap in my career, I was not sure whether I was making the right choice. I had doubts, mainly because I was afraid of the unknown; I was afraid of the future. The fear of the future is prominent when one is unprepared. The level of confidence with which you enter an exam room to take a paper is vastly different when you have studied sufficiently. Hardly would you be afraid knowing that you took the time to learn. That is the same principle with successful reinvention. Preparation is key and this process begins with knowing who we are, what matters to us and how to get there.
“If you don’t go through a process of self-discovery, but just accept others’ decisions, 10 years later you might find yourself saying, ‘I don’t think that’s me,'” says John Mayer, a professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire and the author of Personal Intelligence.
- The Need
There will be times that call for change, self-transformation / reinvention whether you like it or not. And those times are bound to happen to us in life regardless of who we are. And sometimes, we have to recognise the need for reinvention. We will get hints in different ways; you may feel stagnant at work, life may seem dull, boring or overly routine, your drive to do new things may seem to have disappeared. All these emotions are signals that we must pay attention to and take steps towards growing and taking up new projects. We may even continue to work in our old positions but we could approach things differently.
- The Nudge
Sometimes, we need a little nudge to plunge us into reinvention mode. This may call for a road trip out of town, taking a break from work, spending time with people who know us and can help us discover greater potentials in ourselves. As the saying goes, we cannot repeat old habits and expect new results. Find that thing that is making you uncomfortable and face it head on. Usually, this is the touchpoint of growth because we are forced to look deep within ourselves and make drastic changes.
- The Goals
As you are planning your reinvention, be as coldly realistic as possible. “You don’t want to be overly optimistic in the deliberative phase, because you might pick the wrong goal,” says Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology at NYU who has researched identity goals. You also need to factor in the reality that learning, or process, goals are more realistic and achievable than performance, or outcome, goals. Decide, then, that “I’m going to learn to cook well,” rather than “I’m going to become a Michelin-star chef.” (Psychology Today, 2016)
Anyone can reinvent himself at any time, but sometimes it is hard to know whether perseverance or reinvention is the right decision. The best thing to do is ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. The answer to this question will let you know if you are on the right path. Choosing to grow, choosing to do things differently is never a bad choice. Why and how you do it is what counts.
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017. She has also been featured on CNN.
She can be reached on email@example.com and @dzigbordi across all social media platforms.