Reinvention is part of being human. The nature of our lives is that we learn more and collect new ideas and that makes us want to do new and different things with our lives. But we often never actually make that transition.
The problem is that we are hard-wired to think about the present. Even people who are great at planning get tangled up in daily details because, after all, this is how humans stayed alive as they evolved: never taking their eye completely away from their immediate needs.
So what’s really useful is a list of small cheats to get around your proclivity to obsess about today. You need to trick yourself into taking big risks to reinvent yourself by thinking of them as small to-do items on your daily list.
Here are ten tips for reinvention:
1. Rewrite your resume. Before you even do something new, you can rewrite your resume as if you have started something new. A resume is a story. And what I have found is that so many times when people hire me for career coaching we end up overhauling their resume, because what they really need is for an outsider to come to them with a new story of their life so that their plan for reinvention looks like the obvious next step. Your resume is the story of your life that you read to yourself to practice believing in your own reinvention.
2. Make the changes out of logical order. When you think about where you want to get to, take a look at people who are already there, and look at how they structured their life. An entrepreneur, for example, downsizes their life so they can live on very little money. If you know you want to be an entrepreneur but you’re not ready to make the leap, at least start living on a lot less. That’s a crucial step forward that you can take early. Or if you are separating from your parents’ business, you might make non-financial decisions first, and leave the financial break for last.
3. Compartmentalize your debt. You could tell yourself forever that you can’t reinvent yourself until your debt is paid off. But for many of you, that waiting period will consume too much of your life. So much of reinvention is mental. If you tell yourself the debt doesn’t matter, and you pay it back very slowly, then it won’t have power over you to stop reinvention. You can be whoever you want to be, with or without debt. So start making the lowest payments, or get a forbearance. Your reinvention is more important than living debt free.
4. Start very small. Reinvention is all encompassing, changing how we talk, how we spend our time, how we deal with dreams, everything. But if you ask yourself to do something so big so fast, you’ll do nothing. So start with something very small. For example, it turns out that you can look smarter and more capable by changing your hand gestures. That’s right. Intellectuals have their own brand of body language and, like all body language, humans are very good at subconsciously reading hand gestures accurately. So learn to talk with your finger tips together. And while you’re at it, if your reinvention tilts toward intellectualism, listen to jazz, because that makes people think you are an intellectual.
5. Choose a new setting. A lot of reinvention is knowing yourself. You need a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses, which will help you overcome our natural, irrational biases that we are better at everything than we really are and that we have a better future than we really do.
You can also get a more clear picture of yourself by putting yourself in a new setting. Sort of like how you learn a lot about the woman you’re dating when you go on a vacation together. A great example of seeing differently in a different context is food arrangements by mysterious Instagram chef Jacques la Merde. He makes a hot dog look like fancy Asian fusion food. And surrounded by dainty servings of expensive ingredients, a Hostess Cupcake looks like it might actually be gourmet food.
6. Focus on relationships rather than ambition. Reinventing yourself takes a lot of time and energy. James Altucher, famous for his own reinventions, says it takes five years. If you are making that investment, consider centering your reinvention around relationships rather than ambition. Having a solid community around you matters much more than feeding your outsized ambition. When you think about what you want to get for yourself, ask yourself “Why do I want that?” If the answer is that you want to live up to your potential, reconsider that path. Because living up to your potential is a red herring—it’s a phrase people use when they are trying to control our choices.
Your true potential is how much love and kindness you can give. How true to yourself can you be? Yes, this sounds sappy, especially from the person who has written posts to take down Tim Ferriss, David Dellifield, and the Sheryl Sandberg/Dave Goldberg combo. But I truly believe that the only reinvention worth doing is one that brings you closer to being your true, best self, and the people you want around you. This advice is hard to stomach after hearing your teachers tell you your whole life “you’re so smart! you’ll go far!” But don’t reinvent yourself to meet someone else’s expectations. And pay heed to the research that says relationships are more important than ambition.