Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

The Only 3 Ways to Reinvent Yourself in 2018

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.”
William Blake

Everything is going to change in the next 12 months.

Is this some grand prediction, where I am risking my credibility?

Of course not.

Everything is going to change because everything always changes.

Change is constant.

If you want to move forward, your motto should be: Change or die.

Most people want to be better. They want to live better lives, be happier, and have better relationships.

But what is holding us all back?

Change.

But not just any change.

We need to know what and how to change.


The Struggle

Most people actually have good ideas — ideas that will work.

But most people also are horrible at execution.

For years, my mind was always full of ideas. But I was horrible at execution.

So what did I do? I gave my ideas away.

My favorite phrase was “Let’s do this.”

As in “Let us do” whatever I proposed.

I always had to include others so that the idea had a chance to work.


The Downside with No Upside

There is a fundamental problem with giving your ideas away — with not be able to execute yourself.

Here’s the problem: you will not receive the benefits from your own ideas.

All of the benefits of an idea come from the ability to execute that idea.

I remember one idea that I had that made hundreds of thousands of dollars for a prior employer.

What did I get?

A pizza.

Why? I gave the idea to the company. I did not execute it myself.

After a while, giving away ideas and seeing others receive the rewards will destroy you mentally. You can’t keep giving away your ideas without benefit forever. You need to find a way to make your ideas count — to make them serve you rather than someone else.

I needed to change. I had to change.

Change, or die.


The Commitment

At age 30, I was blessed with the amazing opportunity to reinvent myself professionally.

Not everyone gets this chance. I knew that I had an opportunity that few people get.

I promised myself that starting at that point, I would reinvent myself. But I also promised to take notes along the way.

I committed to study reinvention.

And when I figured it out, I promised myself that I would share what I learned with others. No one else needs to feel the pain that I felt.


Three Types of Reinvention

What is the difference between change and reinvention?

All reinvention requires change. But not all changes are a reinvention.

I have discovered three different types of reinvention. I bet that you have experienced each type yourself.


1. Reactive Reinvention

You lose your job.

Your spouse dies.

You suffer an injury.

You make a drastic mistake.

Your girlfriend dumps you.

Your boyfriend is cheating on you.

Each of the above represents an example of what leads to what I call reactive reinvention.

Reactive reinvention occurs when an external event occurs and forces you to change. You do not have a choice. You must change in order to move forward in your life. You cannot go backward because the event that occurred is irreversible.

One of my personal reactive reinventions: the injury.

In high school, I injured my hip and I could not play soccer. I had been playing soccer for 11 years before the injury. I could barely walk. The injury forced me to quit doing something that I loved to do.

Amazingly, ending my soccer career caused me to discover another side of myself. Since I did not play soccer, I now had time to audition for a play. I had always had an interest in acting. The injury gave me an opening to try something new.

I received a large role in the play. My acting career had begun.

The beauty of any type of reactive reinvention is that even though it is difficult to start, the person you become is often even better and stronger than before.


2. Proactive Reinvention

You want a new job.

You want to start a new business.

You want to become healthier.

You want to run a marathon.

You want to learn a new skill.

You want to start a new relationship.

You want to do something that you have never done before.

You want to do something that no one has ever done before.

This is the land of dreamers and entrepreneurs, who believe that there is a better way to live.

Proactive reinvention is when you intentionally change in order to capitalize on a trend or opportunity in front of you.

One of my proactive reinventions: the end of film.

In film school, I learned how to shoot 16mm film cameras. We edited our films on giant Steenbeck machines.

This is an old Steenbeck. In my editing days, the room was dark, with red light. I had to wear white gloves and nothing flammable is allowed.

Of course, the very next year, the school abandoned the giant Steenbecks and taught everyone digital editing. But I wasn’t there, so I never learned digital editing.

Fast forward to my job a few years later: editing audio. I knew my company wanted to move toward video — it just had not happened yet.

I saw an opportunity. The company would need someone who could edit video. Digital video. But I did not have the skill. Cutting 16mm film was a cool vestige of a different time, but it was not a marketable talent.

So I made a decision.

I bought books on digital editing — with my own money.

I decided to learn as much as I could about digital editing. I already drove an hour to work each way. But I started arriving over an hour early. I was often the first person in the building. I read and studied and practiced. I knew the theory from school. Now I was learning how to apply that theory in a new context. I read dozens of books on motion editing, motion graphics, color, and more. I obtained certifications. I signed up for newsletters and magazines. I joined and participated in forums.

In short, I became an expert as fast as I could.

The amazing part of proactive reinvention is that you can condense an incredible amount of learning into a small amount of time if your desire to transform is strong enough.


3. The Third Type comes from failure.

For a long time, I thought there were only two different ways to reinvent yourself: until I suffered a crushing, emotional failure.

In law school, I entered a moot court appellate competition with a great friend of mine. If you don’t know what “moot court” is, think of it this way: you are in a simulated courtroom and you engage in a debate on a legal issue with another team of two. Each person on each team gets a certain amount of time in order to present an argument (usually 10–15 minutes). The goal is to simulate an appellate court oral argument.

My partner and I reached the semifinal round, but we lost to a team that we both believed that we were better than.

I was crushed after the loss.

I remember sitting in a parking lot just thinking about the reasons why we lost. I was definitely to blame. I knew I made a few mistakes. I knew we could be better. I thought about all of the things I would do differently if I ever had another opportunity to compete.

But I also promised that I would never compete again — it took too much out of me. It was too draining. I did not want to experience that feeling again.

That promise did not last long.

After the pain of the moment dissipated, I eventually entered another competition.

I knew that I had another opportunity for reinvention — but this did not seem like reactive or proactive reinvention. It was different.

Nothing had happened that forced me to change.

I did not see a trend or opportunity that I wanted to chase down.

This time, I had failed at something. But I still wanted to continue doing what I failed at. I lost, but I wanted to return to the game and atone for my failure.

In reflecting on my failure, I knew that I needed to change certain aspects of my performance in the competition.

After reflection, I knew that I had to change something — but that change was inside of me.

This was a new type: reflective reinvention.

The Third Way to Reinvent Yourself: Reflective Reinvention

Reflective reinvention occurs when you fail at something, but you still have a strong desire to continue in that particular endeavor.

Often, you may have failed repeatedly. The failure may occur over and over.

The key to reinvention and transformation at this stage is to change something about yourself.

The only way to change yourself is to reflect on your situation. And then make the necessary changes in yourself.

That is exactly what I did in the moot court competition. With my partner, we determined what we did wrong and what we could improve.

We reflected on our performance.

And the next time, my team won. We won it all.


Why Do We Care If There are 3 Different Types of Reinvention?

This is a natural question.

Knowing which type you fall under matters.

Here’s why:

  • Each type of reinvention requires different strategies in order to actually change
  • If you apply the correct strategy to the type of reinvention that you are going through, then you can accelerate that change.
  • If you do not apply the correct strategy, then you will waste precious time, and may possibly never reach your goal or your full potential.

There are multiple strategies to follow for each type, but here is one for each type to get you started.


Reactive Reinvention Strategy

If you are trying to reactively reinvent yourself, you will have an enormous amount of energy and motivation. Not all of this energy is positive. Much of it can be negative. This energy can come from anxiety, nervousness, or even pain.

  • You must learn to channel the emotion and energy from the outside event into an activity that will not harm you.
  • To reinvent, you must use this burst of energy and transform it to your burning purpose.

I channeled the pain of my injury into a new endeavor: performing.


Proactive Reinvention Strategy

If you are trying to proactively reinvent yourself, you must spend significant time to review and analyze trends. You must train yourself to see what others cannot and will not see. You will need preparation, learning, and education.

  • You must learn to create margin in your life so that you can have free and uninterrupted time to prepare, learn, and move toward the new opportunity or trend.
  • Free and available time is the most important aspect of proactive reinvention.

I had to create enough free time to be able to learn everything about digital editing.


Reflective Reinvention Strategy

When you engage in reflective reinvention, you have failed repeatedly at something. If your best effort and knowledge does not result in success, then the problem is easy to diagnose: you need information from outside of yourself.

This step is often hardest for the smartest people. Smart people hate to think that they don’t have the answer. But the truth is that we are all hampered by our point-of-view.

Being smart does not allow you to see the back of your head. You need a mirror, camera, or another person. The same principle applies to reflective reinvention.

This is not a shortcut. It is the only way to succeed.

  • You must find a mentor or coach or some other third party who can provide the missing information.
  • You must learn your blind spots and work around them.
  • Do not let your ego or pride prevent you from seeking help.

It was only through talking with my partner, my coach, and my professors that I discovered how to win the moot court competition. I would have never discovered it on my own.


Next Steps

I am committed to reinvention: both doing it consistently and also studying it so others can do it too. There are secrets, techniques, and strategies that accelerate change. It does not need to hurt (much).

Come with me on this journey.


Call To Action

Are you interesting in change and reinvention? If yes, check out my ebook on the 3 Types of Reinvention, where I share even more:

Click here to get the short ebook now.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 277,446+ people.

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