Why do you need to repeatedly reinvent yourself? Well, during a lifetime you evolve so significantly that keeping the same descriptors simply doesn’t make sense.
You go through many different life phases and your self-perception is often lagging as regards your achieved new situation. You have to kill your darlings in order to proactively profit from new opportunities.
A typical example of self-limitation is when a person repeatedly tells me that she is introvert. That’s the way she has seen herself for decades. This surprises me since I actually rather perceive her as extrovert. The explanation is that for 30 years she has acted “professionally extrovert” and therefore has become extrovert – but her own view and description are lagging behind reality. In your own life you’ll find many examples of wreckage and driftwood from the past; only by cutting the ties will you be able to feel contemporary and resilient.
“Self-improvement is the noblest cause of all”
Leaving behind some of your personal and professional identity is tough. When you have become extremely competent at something, then why change the success criteria? Well, in order to progress! Self-improvement is the noblest cause of all. And if you keep doing the same things you will stop learning. My father used to say: “The possibilities are endless”.
From a leadership perspective this corresponds to always looking at specific situations, as if you had already been promoted. You need to look beyond the department or division perspective, always integrating a general management lens. When I was a headhunter it was always very clear from the beginning of a conversation if the candidate spoke from an employer or an employee viewpoint.
I have read thousands of CVs that are built as an extrapolation of the past – where the template is unchanged since youth and the content is therefore uninteresting. You necessarily need to see your life from the future. It is necessary to deconstruct in order to reconstruct. Already, you have more than compensated for some of your past weaknesses, and they therefore no longer represent limitations. Your most important self-limitation lies in your mental model – what you think is possible and what you think is not.
When telling your story, it is pivotal that you leverage your guiding principle – the main idea that links the different phases of your life. Examples of such guiding principles are:
Imagine you tell the story of your life based on an explanatory factor such as speed, clarity or courage. By telling it this way, you have up front given the listener the key to understanding your actions from a future perspective.
In my work with The Personal Business Plan I have helped many people define their version 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 … even up to 10.0! One thing is certain: At some point in your life you will experience a strong need to reinvent yourself. So why not mentally prepare yourself in advance? There is no reason for not tapping into the body of knowledge of life phases. Embrace age and experience with confidence. As people live longer, today’s perception of “old” is not the same as yesterday’s perception. Retirement is no longer a sign of being passive; many people stay active and involved far into their later years. Retirement can now last up to 30 years – and those who plan for it tend to feel more confident.
We are constantly confronted with artificial choices. Very often we create them ourselves. Why make life more difficult than it is? Use your guiding principle to reduce complexity. Take a chance while you still have the choice. Radical Simplification could become your new mantra!