New Year, New You? Reinventing Reinvention

We’ve all heard stories of people who have reinvented themselves – done a radical overhaul and sold everything, shaved the head, quit the job, moved across the world and joined a Bhutanese convent. Maybe it’s the story of someone you know personally or of a celebrity like Madonna, Diddy, Arnold.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘reinvent’ as: 1. to make as if for the first time something already invented; 2. to remake or redo completely; 3. to bring into use again. 

When we hear the word reinvention, most of us think of definition number two. But what if we challenge ourselves to reinvent the notion of reinvention? I’d like to encourage us to think of smaller, more accessible shifts rather than “complete” do-overs. People often shy away from the concept of personal transformation because reinvention sounds massive, cumbersome, and overwhelming. 

You’re already invented! You’re already a complex, fascinating creature, made up of lots of experiences, talents, preferences, thinking styles, skills, and ways of noticing, interacting, and expressing yourself. 

A more accessible notion of reinvention is reconnection. Reconnecting to different parts of yourself that may have been lying dormant or crowded out by the noise of the daily grind. 

Reinvention is the outside job – what it looks like to other people. 

Reconnection is the inner work that is then manifested and reflected on the outside. 

A healthy snake with access to good nutrition and a balanced ecosystem sheds its skin on a regular basis, around once a month. This process, called ecdysis, is how a snake grows. Same goes for lobsters. As they grow, they shed their rigid exoskeletons, and go through a period of significant vulnerability while the new shell sets in place and hardens. Then they live comfortably in the new shell until they outgrow that and go through ecdysis once more. 

I find this so symbolic of how we, as humans, go through change and adaption – we live, learn, fail, go through discomfort, and re-establish a new sense of self. We grow into ourselves. And as with everything in nature, some basic needs (for humans: nutrition, rest, social interaction, love) are necessary for the regular re-growth to occur. 

In my book Three Colors, Twelve Notes, I include reflection questions at the end of each chapter. These are invitations to consider tiny bits of reinvention. What if we all did reinvention reflections regularly and not just once a year? What if we decide, like the snake and lobster, to conduct a regular process of shedding, reorganizing, shifting, settling in, and expanding so that our lives take on a fluidity, a joyfulness, and a more fully expressed experience? 

Taking time to reflect and reconnect to parts of yourself, to things that are interesting to you, to a sense of exploration and curiosity, to your values and aligned actions, allows you to be more present in your life, at any stage, in any activity, through any challenge, within any opportunity. 

It might only take a few minutes a day, a few small choices a day, a few micro habit changes to shift over time. You might identify, activate, integrate, and sustain what’s working and discard the bits that aren’t. To begin, invest 20 minutes and answer the following: 

  • What is the one thing you’d like to reconnect to this year?
  • Why is it important to you?
  • Have you done it before? When, where and with whom?
  • What resources do you have? What might you need to get?
  • Who can you recruit to be on your team? Is there already a group you can join?
  • Is there someone you can ask for support, encouragement, guidance?
  • What will you gain by reconnecting to this thing, this activity, this practice?
  • How will it support your forward momentum in life?
  • What might you have to give up in order to get it? What might that loss feel like?

This year, especially this year, after all we’ve been through, consider taking an inner inventory and celebrating all that you already are, and then identify which bits need to be given a little more energy to shine bright moving forward.

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