Rebooting Your Life
“You’re too old for that.”
If you are acting age-appropriate, you will rarely hear those words between the ages of 25 and 40. Then, turn 40 and BAM! Suddenly and magically you cross some imaginary line that puts you in the category of “outdated.” Sure, there are those super glamorous movie stars who seem to defy the odds. Can you believe that Will Smith is 51? I point that out because he is one of many examples of someone who just keeps on re-inventing himself. I am sure you are aware, he was discovered by Quincy Jones for his talent as a rapper.
The reason I am bringing this up, and you should definitely keep reading if you are under 40, is that our world is changing at a rapid pace. The rising speed of technological changes is shifting the world in ways that even the smartest people are unable to predict. Gone are the days when you could go to school for a particular subject, graduate, obtain a job in your field, and work that same job for 20 or more years until retirement.
Unfortunately, our educational system is lagging behind in adopting a model that can keep pace with these rapid changes. In my lifetime, I have witnessed more change than the previous two generations (Boomers and Traditionalists) combined. And the pace of change is increasing more quickly than companies can adapt to it. As of 2016, only 12% of Fortune 500 companies that existed in 1955 are still around today.
What does that mean to you?
Unlike my generation who had to get over the shock of finding out that “company loyalty” was a thing of the past, young people entering the workforce in 2020 are facing even more challenges. College degrees no longer carry sigweight in the market that they used to. While it is true that in general, you will outearn someone with a high school diploma over your lifetime, gone are the days where you could say, “I went to a good school, made good grades, and now I have a great job.”
Add to that the suppression of wages and the fact that younger generations have less wealth than previous generations, including my own. Many GenY’ers and Z’ers are calling “foul! — you ruined the whole thing for us.” The unfairness of the current situation can be overwhelming. But I say that you should not let that get you down. There are some things that you can do to embrace change, grow your career or business, and become an absolute rock star in your own world. Ready to learn more? Here we go…
The Importance of Embracing Radical Accountability
I hope that I don’t lose you on this first point. If you want to change the current trajectory of your life, your community, your workplace, or the planet, you must embrace this concept of a thing called “accountability.”
If you haven’t done so already, you need to pick up a copy of Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong. Although some would call it a book about vulnerability and authenticity, I call it a book about courageous leadership.
I think the people who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses in this world. ~Brene Brown
As much as you may want to scream “It’s YOUR fault!”, doing so is counter-productive to your current situation. This is about you. And in order to reinvent yourself, you will need to lean into your story, your truth, and your own defeating self-talk. When you are trying to reinvent yourself, wallowing in shame and pity is not allowed.
Let’s take David Goggins as an example. This badass woke up one day and decided that he no longer wanted to kill roaches for a living. He looked in the mirror, didn’t like what he saw, and decided at that moment to take responsibility for the situation he found himself in — and change it.
I had a similar moment in my life. After years of working in a system that kept telling me “you are not enough,” I decided that I needed to tell myself a different story. “Rebecca, you are MORE than enough.” And out of that place, I make the decision to craft my own journey. I tell people, “I fired my boss, but I didn’t quit my job.”
What do I mean by “I fired my boss”? I stopped relying on my boss, or anyone else, to continue to tell me “I know what you need to do.” The truth of the matter is that most people don’t even know what they should be doing. How on earth, then, can they know what you should be doing?
Radical accountability is about taking responsibility for your life, where it is going, and every decision that you make. Instead of waiting for someone to tell me what I should be learning and doing, I started exploring what I wanted to learn and do. It set me on a whole different path in my profession. And it was a path that lit a fire in my soul. Stop asking your parents, your teachers, your friends, or your boss to tell you what you should be doing. Fire up your own journey and get strategically intentional about what you are doing and where you are going. Take radical accountability for your life.
Become a Self Learner
“It’s not about WHAT you know, it’s about WHO you know.” Have you heard this one? Well, I call BS on that. Focusing solely on who you know to get you where you want to go is a perfect recipe for ending up in the wrong place. We have given that an official label now. It’s called “imposter syndrome.”
I can say that I have never in my life experienced “imposter syndrome.” Want to know why? Because I work hard at learning what I need to know to be competent at whatever I am doing. Bam! If you want to avoid imposter syndrome, then you need to get busy learning the basics of what to do and how to do what you want to do.
I decided that I wanted to learn about how to become a leader. So, I made a list of the top leadership books and got busy learning. From there, I decided to go back to school to learn about business and leadership. One of my classes had me inventory my skills and training. I looked at my training transcript and realized that I had consistently taken various classes over the years. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized the correlation between my professional growth and my consistent learning practice. School has always been in session for me.
Our world is changing at such a rapid pace. What you learned in school two years ago is already irrelevant. So you must become a self-driven learner. The cool thing about learning today is that you are no longer at the mercy of the school system. When I was a young person, the school system how education locked down. My free source of learning was the local library and books. It forced me into becoming a reader.
Now, you have tons of options. Coursera, MasterClass, Udemy, YouTube, LinkedIn Learning. The list goes on and on. Add to that the many FREE webinars you can take from all kinds of experts and professionals. Add to this the ability to click a button and instantly have your book on something like the Amazon Kindle. And if reading a book is not your thing, you can sign up for something like Audible, or listen to podcasts for FREE. There is absolutely no reason that a person should remain ignorant about anything they want to learn. Type into Google, find what you want to learn, and get started. It’s just that easy. No college applications with fees. And no “entry requirements.”
Which begs the question “What should I study?” I want to remind you that no one can give you that answer. This is something you must decide for yourself. I encourage people to follow their interests. What would you like to learn? Go learn that.
I should note that it is quite possible you will end up learning something that does not light your fire. That’s OK. Better to do it this way than to follow the path of thousands of folks who spend thousands of dollars getting degrees in subjects they don’t like. How dumb is that? Just experiment and flow with your interests. Get busy learning.
Adopt an Experimentation Mindset
This last one is really important. Learning without doing is not learning at all. So after exploring your interests and learning a few things, write out a practice plan for yourself. Ask yourself, “How can I put what I just learned to practice?”
Again, the cool thing about living in the 21st century is that you can start practicing most things with very little effort or upfront investment. I will caution you here to stay away from the capitalists who are everywhere offering you the “opportunity” to practice if you just pay them. Most of them are scams.
Find an amateur or interest group to join. Again, there are so many options out there that are FREE. LinkedIn is a great resource to connect and learn from other professionals. You can follow experts in any field on social media platforms. Most people these days have FREE content on the website, blog, or available for download.
Now, here is the critical part. Whatever people in this area are doing or telling you to do, you should do. Find free or low-cost ways to get started. Don’t worry about trying to make it a business or turn it into a profit machine right now. Just play, experiment, and practice. Share your work or what you are doing with your network.
Practicing is the only way that you develop competence in any area. Just knowing the stuff inside your head is not enough. You have to become proficient at doing it. As you practice, you will gain the confidence that will help you avoid “imposter syndrome.” And keep you on the pathway to reinvention. Take what you are learning and practice until you become comfortable doing what you learned.
That’s it. I can tell you that once you begin learning, practicing, and sharing with your network, doors of opportunity will magically appear. It is amazing how setting an intention and putting things in motion. I am on my fourth iteration of reinventing myself professionally. And I am having the time of my life learning and growing.
Do you feel stuck in your career or life? What has been holding you back? Did this article help you think about how to approach reinventing yourself? Share in the comments.
Rebecca is a self-proclaimed change agent who believes in the power of human potential to change the world. She is an experienced professional who loves to read, write, and work on her homestead.