The Art of Reinvention
I’m guessing many of you have participated in discussions with friends or colleagues on the future of work: What will returning to work or the “new normal” look like? I spend most of my time coaching and supporting leaders, and many are wrestling with what returning to the office means for their organization. Many of their employees (strong, loyal employees by the way) are not interested in returning to the way things were. Here are a few common refrains:
- I am more productive at home.
- I have adapted my life to exist in a work from home/remote lifestyle.
- Going “in” to work means I have to move to a new city/state/country.
- My life at work was not so great pre-Covid. Why would I want to go back to that?
But I want to draw attention to another factor that I hear often: I am not sure I want to go back to what I was doing before!
These last 18 months have given many people the opportunity to reflect on how they want to spend their time. And, for many of us, regardless of age, race, or gender, we are ready for a change.
I know this feeling well because I felt it. And when I started to be brave enough to talk about it, I realized so many other people were in the same place. They hit a crossroad and felt like something needed to change career-wise, but they weren’t sure what to do. The topic was so pervasive that I launched a podcast in January 2021 titled Her Next Chapter, which I co-host with my dear friend Julie Burton, founder of ModernWell co-working space. Our podcast is dedicated to stories of women who have reinvented/pivoted/evolved into doing work they love now. Note the emphasis on now. It’s not that many of us did not like what we were doing previously; we just outgrew it. The work no longer suited our life or our goals anymore. I don’t know about you, but for me a lot has changed since I selected industrial engineering as my major. I got older, married a great guy, had an amazing kid, and achieved many of my professional goals. I was ready to set my sights on new accomplishments and objectives. It just makes sense that my career aspirations would evolve as I evolved. The work is figuring out “what” we want to do next and “how” to get there.
“Not everyone is ready for you to be different, and that is likely more about them than you.”
Between the podcast and my coaching practice, I have learned so many things. Here are three tangible pieces of advice I would offer to those looking to reinvent.
1. Keep a record of the times when you are happiest.
This one is for those of you who are not sure what you want to do next. I know this may sound a little hokey, but stay with me. We all do so many things each day. It can be tough to recall the precise moments when we felt true joy and confidence in our activities. I suggest you track when you were happy and why. What were you doing? With whom? Keep a journal, take notes on your computer, say it into your phone. After a couple weeks go back and review. You may be surprised by what you find.
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2. Say “yes” to the meeting and “no” to bad company.
When you are trying to figure out your next step, finding time to connect with people who may offer small nuggets that move you forward can be priceless. Meet with contacts, referrals, and friends who inspire, motivate, and educate. The company you keep can be so critical to success—at work and at home. So be thoughtful about who you take advice from and with whom you share your dreams. Not everyone is ready for you to be different, and that is likely more about them than you.
3. Run your race!
Simply stated, do you. One of our podcast guests summed it up so perfectly: “The only thing between you and your future is your thoughts.” In other words, consider how you might be getting in the way of your success. What is the work you are drawn to do, and how can you do that work and still be fulfilled in other aspects of your life? Consider the “test and learn” strategy of trying something out before you quit your job. There is no shame in making your shift less risky.
We are all in different places. We have different backgrounds, needs, and financial situations, which is why I’m careful to avoid saying there’s one right answer for most of us. Everyone’s path to their next chapter will be unique. Seize this moment. Honor that feeling in your gut. Dedicate some time and space to truly explore what is next for you.