“You are the Queen of Reinvention,” my trusted co-worker and friend declared. The translation came easily: he was impressed with my ability to be intentional and disciplined about initiating change. The unexpected moniker brings me back to who I was then: a young professional peering down the fast track, looking for another lane. I didn’t want the MBA or the traditional trajectory that would make me a female success story in a corporation eager to promote my gender. While I respected the intent and was deeply grateful for the belief in my potential, I had the undeniable sense that it wasn’t for me.
The Queen of Reinvention would have to create her own lane.
True to my Capricorn nature, my approach was organized and sure-footed. A time before cell phones and iPods, I carried around a three-ring binder sectioned off by the different professional roles I was exploring. In each section, I had the names and office phone numbers of people I was pursuing for informational interviews, including dates of contact, follow-up notes, and next steps. As much as I relished the idea of a crown, this “Queen of Reinvention” thing felt like a misnomer; something about it wasn’t sitting right with me. I was keenly aware that I wasn’t reinventing myself, as in “You’re out of here and good riddance. Time for something new.” It was far more nuanced and self-respecting than that. I knew intuitively that reinvention didn’t have to be a dismissal of who or how I had been in my life or in my professional roles. Instead, it could be a natural evolution informed by my introspection, honesty, self-awareness, and courage. That lane had my name written all over it, and I set off. It proved to be the genesis of my “reinvention,” one that aligned with my interests, my values, and how I wanted to grow as a person and as a professional.
You may be thinking that it’s easier, safer even, to travel those well-paved, familiar lanes. And besides, traveling in your own lane sounds like a whole lot of work and you’re not sure that you want to go there. I get it, and you don’t need to make a hasty decision. Pull into a rest stop and consult with your inner GPS to envision what might be possible if you took one or more of these five actions:
- examined your choices as a series of connecting lanes on a journey called “My Life”
- claimed what has always been true and right for you based on your passions, values, and priorities
- reclaimed what you have lost, put aside, or been talked out of
- unloaded some baggage that continues to weigh you down
- said “No” to someone else’s well-intentioned idea about what’s next for you
Get ready to be amazed as you discover that being a Queen of Reinvention means traveling a lane named “Right for Me.” The journeys of reinvention of the women I know and admire were marked by many a “GPS consult” that yielded insight and greater authenticity. A friend in mid-career unloaded a ton of old baggage and rediscovered her joy and ambition in the process. Another found herself traveling in a traditional post-retirement lane, then got her groove back in a new way in a lane of her own making.
Look around. Take inspiration from the Queens of Reinvention in your own circles of connection. Then, consider this: before you engage in the love-hate dance of making resolutions to kick start your 2020, pull over. Reconnect with your inner GPS and stay there a while. Once you know you are in the right lane, craft your resolutions so that they support your journey – the one you want to be on.