Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Reinvention; will the ‘real’ you stand up please?

What do the following have in common? Margaret Thatcher, David Bowie, Frank Sinatra, Hove seafront, Mickey Mouse, Glasgow and the Fiat 500? A Google search points out that they have all been ‘reinvented’. They all changed aspects of themselves to ensure they were still ‘with it’ beyond their ‘sell by’ date.
For today’s 50+’s reinvention is a key part of a long and happy life. From being a spoon-fed babe-in-arms we become a very mobile toddler. We go to school and maybe further or higher education, we start a job, change jobs, get promotion, take on new responsibilities. We outgrow our job, ‘need a change’ and retrain. At some time we may lose our job, have some time unemployed and at some point after a long a varied life we may retire. Alongside our career track our personal life will also involve many changes. We are single then commit to someone. We are ‘child free’ and then become a parent. We may separate or divorce, then find a new partner and some day may be widowed. We may move abroad and live and work in different countries. We may win or be left a fortune or have one and lose it. We may be involved in a serious accident or develop an illness that leaves us with a life-changing handicap. We may take on new learning or achieve a qualification that gives us new openings. New technology may change the world in which we work and means we have to up-skill or move on. In short, there will be times in our lives when we have to re-shape the way we think and see ourselves. We become a new version of ourselves.

What are the signs that it is time to ‘move on’ to our next phase? Here’s how some people have recognised the call for a new direction:
· ‘I had outgrown my job, I could do it in my sleep, the buzz had gone’.
· ‘I had hit the ceiling, gone as far as I could, I was waiting for people above me to move on or die and they didn’t seem ready to do either’.
· ‘I had had enough of where I was, I was treading water or even going backwards, I needed something new, a new challenge, some new skills’.
· ‘Getting that qualification opened doors that I had thought would always be closed to me. A whole new world came into view’
· ‘Surviving the heart attack was the wake up call. I could not go on as I had been.’
· ‘Losing my right arm was a signal that life had to be different. I had to rethink my future’
· ‘Losing my partner was a great blow, after that I had to rethink everything’
· ‘I was a dinosaur in a young person’s world’
· ‘Winning the prize money meant I could move on from having to scrimp and save. I could do good things for myself and my family and make our lives different and better’
· ‘ The relationship wasn’t going anywhere. It was beyond repair and I didn’t want the rest of my life to be like that.’

There are rhythms in life. If we sense that more of ‘the same’ is not going to get us what we want then maybe it is time to reinvent ourselves and reshape our future.

What we need is:
· An idea of what and how we want to be different. What actually (more income, adventure, learning, new challenges, new relationships etc.) are we looking for that would be better than what we have now? How could we achieve that? What will be the challenges? Is it worth the risk?
· A clear picture of what we have ‘going for us’. What are our strengths, experience and skills that will help us in our next stage? What resources do we have, what support and how will we get that? What else may we need to learn to achieve the change we want?
· To realise that change can be tough – how have we managed change before, what have we learned from that? How will we manage the change we want? What are the stages we will go through? What can we do or not do to help ourselves?
· A good ‘action plan’ – what are the action steps we will need to take? What is our ‘plan B’ if our first plan doesn’t work out?

Overall, we need to see change as part of living. We need the courage to act. Alongside that we need to be clear that our ‘reinvention’ will affect others and we need to show understanding for them as they come to terms with the ‘new us.’

‘The Rainbow Years; the pluses of being 50+’ is a ‘toolbox for reinvention’ and is available on this blog.

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