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5 Steps to Reinvent Yourself

Change means reinvention. Each time a major shift happens in our lives—leaving a job or a relationship, moving, losing a loved one—we have to take control of who we will become or risk never reaching our full potential.

I’ve reinvented myself several times in my life. Most adults have.

But what I always forget is that we have to choose reinvention. Each time I’ve done it, I’ve forged my new path deliberately and with foresight.

When I’ve waited for my future to find me, I’ve waited in vain, lost in confusion and sadness, or I’ve gotten tangled up in a situation I didn’t want.

One morning, after struggling for months with grief and loss, I woke up and realized that I was having so much trouble moving forward partly because I had no idea what it was that I wanted to move towards.

I was thinking about my past, but not what I wanted for my future.

That morning, I woke with a vision: a crowd of people from the life I needed to leave behind with the sun rising opposite them and me standing between the two, the sun beating down on my face.

In the vision, I decided, finally, to turn from the group and walk towards the sun, my new life.

That vision told me what I needed to hear—that I had to take control of my future instead of letting my pain choose for me.

These are 5 steps I’ve identified to reinvent yourself:

1. Create a vision for your future.

Sit quietly, close your eyes, and imagine the people, places, or situations that you need to leave behind.  Now imagine the future that you want, whether it’s simply a feeling, a group of people, or a situation such as a wonderful new job.

Imagine how it will feel to be in that new place. Picture the sun coming up behind your future, the warm glow of the light on your face.

Stand for a moment and silently voice your appreciation of everything that came before. Once you’ve thanked the past, turn toward the sun, and with compassion and gratitude, imagine yourself walking away from the past and into the future.

2. Write about your reinvention.

Imagine a scene from it or write about how you’d like it to play out. Where are you living? What do you do in the mornings, afternoon, evenings? Who are your friends? What do you spend your days doing?

Continue writing for as long as this exercise feels invigorating and exciting. Write scenes, dialogues, lists, plans. Make the future come alive. Write about how it will feel to be there. Keep your writing somewhere where you will look at it occasionally. Feel free to add to it.

3. Surround yourself with visual reminders of the life you’d like to create.

If it’s a new job in a particular field, put objects or images from that field someplace where you’ll see them every day. If it’s a home, find a picture of a house that you love and put it near your front door. It can be anything that reminds you of what you’re moving toward.

4. Now that you have a vision of your future, break it up into workable tasks.

What do you need to do—every day—to create that vision? Look for work? Meet new people? Search for a place to live in your chosen town? Make it specific. Make a list of everything you need to do and a schedule for when you’ll do it. Then do it and commit to keep doing it, one day at a time.

5. Every day, go back to that vision of you walking towards your future.

Every morning or evening, close your eyes, and see yourself walking into the rising sun, toward your dreams, and reconnect with why you’re moving toward this new possibility.

Reinvention is neither easy nor always smooth. Often we encounter resistance. We don’t want to let go, even of things that cause us pain or that are obviously already out of our grasp. We often struggle with limiting beliefs or stories about ourselves that hold us back from trying new things.

But there is one way to keep your compass pointed to this new life, even in the midst of any resistance or struggles you may encounter on your path.

Each time you find yourself slipping into old habits—isolating yourself, making excuses not to look for work, procrastinating on a task that might help you advance in your career—don’t bother wondering why you’re doing it or beating yourself up.

Just ask yourself this: “What can I do in this moment to keep moving forward?”

Then, no matter what you feel in the moment—lonely, self-critical, tired, lazy, or disappointed—do something to maintain momentum, even if it’s one small thing. There’s an old adage that says that true courage isn’t about not feeling fear; it’s about feeling fear and acting anyway.

Choose courage instead of letting your fear choose your future for you.

Photo by Matthew Fang

Avatar of Melissa Kirk

About Melissa Kirk

Melissa Kirk is an editor, writer, and blogger living in the SF bay area and attempting to go with the flow and roll with the punches as much as possible. She writes for Psychology Today blogs here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/test-case and has her personal blog here: http://www.joyattheheart.com/.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://twitter.com/30vanquish Matt

    “Choose courage instead of letting your fear choose your future for you.”

    I love that saying because you are in total control of the life you want. When you gain courage, you have the ability to do anything you want. Like you say in the article, you imagine the vision for the life you want and then create it! With courage, creating that vision is so much easier. No matter how many rejections you get or how many people disapprove of your actions, you are able to continue on your own path to create the vision in your mind. Reinvention takes courage. You have to be willing to say, “I am done with this monotony and I have to change!”

    I could relate to this post immensely. Thanks for the wonderful advice to reinvent yourself!

  • http://twitter.com/YourToBeList Lauren Rosenfeld

    I truly enjoyed this post. I think we all have a basic need for self-determination. It’s so empowering to know that this need can be fulfilled — and its very helpful to know HOW the fulfillment of that need is possible. Namasté!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you Melissa! Clarity after awareness, is the most important step towards re-invention! Thank you for this roadmap to intelligent life design! Great post!

    Mike

    http://www.mikeschurko.com

  • Anonymous

    This fits me and most of my writing and publishing clients:

    “I’ve reinvented myself several times in my life. Most adults have.”

  • Jennifer

    I’m in the process of reinvention right now after spending last year angry confused and scared. One day the sun came up and all my energy shifted,life feels like infinite possibilty. It takes alot of energy to be in a dark place that leaves you feeling exhausted. Ask life to help you shift to the light side. p.s. I pretty sure reading tiny Budda every morning had something to do with my change. thank you Lori and contributors.!!!

  • http://inspiredtype.wordpress.com Sue Alexander

    I have reinvented myself recently, and find keeping a focus on taking action is so important. Your post resonates and is just what I needed. I love this suggestion to ask yourself this: “What can I do in this moment to keep moving forward?”

    Sometimes getting started on a new task is the most difficult part, and you just have to “Begin Anywhere”.

  • meareneko

    A few weeks ago I also started to reinvent myself. I simply wasn’t happy anymore with my life. So I started writing down everything I want to change and have already begun changing like becoming more independant through my new job. Also I tried to find reasons why I want to be that new person. Why I have choosen to become a teacher. Something a few month ago I could not think of.
    Then I made a copy of my text. I kept the copy and filled it away. Then I burned the original and scatterd the ashes in our local river. After I’d done that i felt much better. It was like a new beginning. A little ceremony for the beginning of my new life. And when I feel like I’m losing my new path I remember how good it felt to start a new path in my life.

  • http://twitter.com/AnUrbanStyle Andrew Urban

    Great Article. I read over thisa few times and it has helped me get regeared to move forward with my projects. I recently started a new business but have been losing site of what I really want to get out of it in the long term. I sat down last night and really thought about what I want and how I’m going to achieve it. Thanks for the insight.

    Andrew

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  • http://rohitramann.com/ Rohit

    Awesome post…one of mine favorite post in my collection.

  • Pingback: Things I Learned This Week

  • Mike

    Its took me a year to get over a past relationship and after reading this post iv decided that by next year I want to move to a bigger city, start a new job and meet new people. Thank-you for the inspiration. Mike

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  • Anonymous

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post Melissa.  There are a couple of reasons… apart from the fact that it is a great read… but I re invented myself a few years ago after a long struggle with disappointment. 

    It’s definitely a learning process to release and let go… and to move forward and not look back.  I know it took programming and effort for sure, but after a while it starts to get easier. 

    Often we only have two options:  Get a grip … or curl up.  The latter is not an option for healing. 

    I’m in the middle of creating a post for my blog on the topic and wanted to make sure I am on the right track.  Seems the answer is somewhat uniform and that’s great to know!

    Best

    Jayne

  • Pilgram

    This is very encouraging and a helpful push.  thanks for sharing

  • Christopher Rivera

    Brilliant! Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to apply your visualization to my reinvented life in-the-making.

  • Bakedbug

    Ive left my old life friends job and am starting new. This was such a good reminder to keep moving forward and perfet timing too

  • Sarah

    Very true I’m sure ur words will help me xx

  • tommy mondello

    What a simple and uplifting article this was!!

    I finally realized that I have come to a crossroads in my silly life… where so many of the aforementioned emotions are beginning to take over my life… in a harmful way… and I’ve finally gotten to the point of trying to recapture my life before it’s too late.

    And this post was the very first thing I came across after taking my very first step towards a new me… and hopefully a new way of living! It was pretty amazing that it included everything I’m currently going feeling.

    It’s reading words such as these that help wash away the thoughts of “being impossible” and living within the “i can’t” world… and making an ordinary person such as myself suddenly feel victorious… even before the battle to regain a happy life again has even begun!

    Just by reading this… in seconds… the loss… the pain… the anger and fears crashing down upon me have been pushed back a bit. Just enough to give me a tiny… but firm foot hold… enough to take the true first step towards becoming a new and improved tommy mondello! What an amazing feeling… such a weight lifted. As many times as I’ve had these same positive thoughts myself… I was still unaffected by them and unable to act on them. But by reading those very same thoughts and feelings through the eyes of another… it’s like seeing and feeling them for the very first time… it’s a pretty weird feeling to say the least…

    I know the hard work still lies before me… but now knowing how something so simple and small as these couple hundred words can ignite a flame in me so easily… I am truly ready to regain my vigor for a fun and fulfilling life. Baby steps…

    Thanx so much for your post… hopefully it will be but the first in many that I’ll come across on my new journey home…

    love always… your pal tommy

  • http://www.howtoreinventyourself.org/ Deanmail2012

    I agree with your views on How To Reinvent Yourself wholeheartedly. These tips have finally made me into who I wanted to become all along. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • http://www.howtoreinventyourself.org/reinventing-yourself/ Reinventing Yourself

    Those comments were so helpful, that I’m back for a second go around. My motivation is still high. I believe I can accomplish this if I wanted to.

  • Macmome

    well written/spoken Matt. I think a majority of people need to admit to themselves that they ate tired of the ‘monotony’ or whatever else ails them first before being able to effectively move on. thank you for the inspiring post.

  • chiaswinger

    This was a wonderful blog and it gave me exactly what I was looking for. I have experienced some ups and downs and I have not been consistent with positive thinking. I have let situations get out of control and I was out of control with them. I understand now that there is always some turbulence before the flight takes off. I will no longer be loose site of the things I am here to express and accomplish. I have all the things I desire written down so that every step I take will be purposeful. I wish everyone spiritual and physical success. I enjoy reading all the comments and witnessing that I am not the first or only person to experience tough times and everything will be just fine !!!

  • muhthuhfuhka

    I really need to reinvent myself, my life totally sucks…

  • Fcestra

    this truely made me want to make good changes in my life, thank you

  • SySpence

    Great article!

    When I began reading this article, I suddenly had a bit of an epiphany. It may seem obvious, but I want to share it with you all, because life really does come down to this!

    Think of anything you want or want to change in your life. You have 2 options ONLY! Either 1 – don’t do anything and remain right where you are, which is where you don’t want to be, or 2 – DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT and achieve that thing or circumstance that you want. It really does come down to that!

    If you look at things this way, when fear rears it’s ugly head, instead of letting it get into your head by telling you how difficult it may be, etc., you will choose to just act on it instead. In other words, you won’t spend time worrying about stuff. You will just know there is something that you want, so you must figure out what you have to do to get it, and do whatever it takes to get it!

    Here’s another thing, let’s just say there is a major thing you want in your life and you do nothing about it…. now imagine 10 years down the line when you look back. I know for a fact you will ask yourself: “why the hell didn’t I try? Now I’ll never know what could have been!” (Remember too that 10 years is going to go by anyway!)

    When we really think about it, isn’t better to try and fail then not to try at all? Ultimately, if you try and don’t give up you eventually WILL succeed, right? Well, I believe that we are ALL worth it!!! :-)

    I hope this helps someone out there!

    Thank you so much for the article too, because I may not have really come to this realization without it, and it has really put things into perspective for me.

    God bless you all!!!

    SySpence :-)

  • Tricia R.

    I’m in the process of reinventing myself b/c of some bad things that have happened with some personal relationships. I didn’t know how to communicate,solve the problems I walked away and out of fear, I have placed myself in a very lonely life, all alone. Sadness, crying daily,Self-pity,Depression,Lonely and wanting to be dead.Anger,Resentment,Very ashamed to be honest with the few friends iv known for years and they live in other states,Resistance to change sometimes takes a nuclear BLAST OF SOME kind and the reality is FEAR. So im grateful for this article and will follow the suggestions and go back to watching The SECRET. I’M EXCITED and what im looking for is Human Connection,Love,Inner Peace and peace of mind, Helping others,So It’s time to get busy and the 1st thing is to write a gratitude list.

  • Paul

    This is the wake up call I need right now

  • Shaun

    how can you reinvent your self if something you love is in the way?

    I want to reinvent my self, because I’ve let depression make decisions for me.

    6 months ago my partner ran away with my son, I’m currently in the process of seeing him and as i haven’t done anything wrong I’m sure i will get to see him. But as much as i love my son the situation will limit my dream job. Unfortuantly will require me moving abroad which i cannot do.

    Any suggestions?, I will appreciate
    I’m thinking at the moment my son is more important to me then anything. Should i accept a dead end job to see my son grow up and live his dreams? i want to but i will never be happy if you know what i mean.

    shauncambridge@hotmail.co.uk

  • Frostgrl

    This was just perfect. This is exactly what I needed to read. Now if I could find a life coach to help me implement those wonderful suggestions. I really need someone to be accountable to, and keep me moving as I strive to reinvent myself.

  • Tobi

    I hope you found a solution in the meantime. If not: I would recommend you trying to find out what it really is you like about this dream job and if it’s really the moving abroad you need. What does your day at the new job look like? What are you doing? What do other jobs have in common with it?
    Just a few thoughts inspired by books I read about that subject. Hope they can help you. I still don’t know, what the one thing is, that’s really important to me and how to combine it with the less, but still important things. It’s a hard way. (and I’m a little bit jealous that you know, what you really want, although I’m not jealous about the hard situations surrounding it)

  • Rick Barlow

    Reinvention is a personal focus for me, and I am trying to write about it, too. I confess that I almost skipped this article. It looked like yet another list (does every blog post have to have a list?), and the headlines suggested a “more of the same” (I read lots of blogs). But it wasn’t just more of the same, and I found myself thinking about how I was already using some of those steps. More importantly, I found myself imagining how other steps could help me. I had never before focused on what I had to leave behind. That was probably the most original thought for me. But the need for daily small steps was also helpful. I think reinventing yourself involves both — major changes and continuous small adjustments. So, thanks for this post. I will share this around.

  • Walltrey

    Thank you…this helped me more than I can explain. Really, thank you.

  • OnTheFence

    I’m freaking out because I feel like I have this secret part of me that I discovered in secret, by myself, while acting like I though I should with people. I only discovered it because I began acting like what I thought a good person was, and while I “deepened” my actions (acted ever more open and understanding with people), I never deepened my feelings – it was all in my head. And I guess in how I seemed with people.

    Now I have created a way I act around people that is based on a lie, while I have deepened my understanding of myself, leading me to feel deeper and alone and scared. If I stop thinking and try to just breathe, I realize that deeper scared part of me is me, and I freak out about how I can’t be that person with other people. I freak out because I don’t know how to be that person in the world I have created for myself. When I try, I get so angry.

    I am 27 years old and feel like I have no experience and no idea who I am. I want to reinvent myself but it feels so overwhelming and unlikely. Part of my situation is that I feel isolated from everyone, so I don’t really have any support.

    Suggestions? Sound hopeless?

  • keithbrand

    I and NIKHIL has been together for 5 years. We both put our capital together to open a supermarket and since then we have been living happily without any problem. I always discuss about marriage with NIKHIL but he replies me with, we will soon get married. I was surprise on Friday evening when I was in my brother’s house, NIKHIL called me on phone and told me that we can no longer carry on with the relationship because he has find himself a rich a lady whom he want to get married to. I shocked and hospitalize for 4 days. I was so tired and tried to take my life because I truly love him. All the investment was opened in his name and signature and I am left with nothing. One Sunday evening when I was searching online for help, I was directed to templeofgreatness@gmail.com I contacted him and he told me what I need to provide for he to bring back my happiness

  • mary1mary

    Good Morning, On-the-Fence!
    I could hear the fear in your post, and sincerely hope you are in a more peaceful place.
    I am the mother of four: a 28-year-old daughter, and three sons (26, 21, and 18). I daily see the challenges that they go through; trying to figure life out in a very harsh, judgmental society. My daughter has told me that she feels like she has to put on a suit of armor before leaving the house, just so she isn’t so vulnerable to the “barbs.” I used to feel the same. Here’s what I shared with my own precious daughter:
    EVERYONE lives with insecurities of one sort or another (even the most put-together people you see/know). When you stop focusing on yourself (feelings, looks, actions, motivations, etc.) and start looking for ways to help others (even if it’s just by smiling at someone and acknowledging that they exist), you’ll begin to feel better AND make your world a more hospitable place. The problem is, our society is full of people who are so insecure – and their insecurity leads them to act out in aggressive/hurtful ways, which keeps a pain-cycle in place for them as well as those around them. Choose a new path. Stop living from the outside, in (where others’ acceptance or validation of you determines your level of personal happiness and self-acceptance) and begin to live your life from the inside, out (with personal integrity and Peace). Create Peace within you (invite Peace to be the Foundation for your Life), and then start being very selective: Does this situation support the Peace Foundation in my Life? Does this person support the Peace Foundation in my Life? Does this thinking, belief, or action support the Peace Foundation that I have created in my Life?
    Life is now calling you to your best and highest good…it’s what Life is always doing, to each of us. When you feel restless, anxious, fearful, it’s just Life calling you to something HEALTHIER (and something that will bless others as well).
    Let go of self-absorption and you’ll step away from the sense of isolation.
    There’s nothing hopeless about your situation, you’re just experiencing Life’s call to you…respond.
    Peace.

  • Bongani

    that was very profound and insightful…how did you manage to acquire such a refreshing perspective of it all…which books or material aid your track of mind and sustain it…very interested to learn these principles and to practise them in my own life…thank you.

  • laughingcat

    I know something about grief and loss.The points she makes are valid, but ONLY after the grieving process has helped us move through the inner shock and heaviness that accompany death and loss.

    It sounds like she got through it to the point where she knew she had to move forward. But she didn’t mention that she HAD to “stay stuck” in grief for awhile. Otherwise the grief we haven’t processed will come back to bite us hard in the future. We must do healthy “grief work” in order to process it and get beyond it. Feeling badly is not enough. Nor is denying it.

    There’s a time to be in the underworld; there’s a time to come up out into the light. If we try to come up one hour before we’ve “drained the pond,” then inevitably we shall drag our grief with us into our new life.

  • ABHA CHAWLA MOHANTY

    UPLIFTING, IN DEARY !!!

  • LA

    I am feeling stuck, it is truly encouraging to know that this is healthy and not normal ….thank you

  • JT
  • redrockenergy

    Thank you Melissa. Resistance is what am feeling right now I guess. And that was a great question to ask ourselves. I have some serious visualizing to do…. I just don’t know what direction to move in and I have been waiting for clarity since long. I get stuck between choices and when I consider too many sides to a situation. And then when I do make a choice (eg. the course I chose to explore), I lose motivation to continue after a while and wonder if it’s a legitimate reaction or some kind of fear – something I need to dig deeper into. Lots to get back in order. Thank you again for a great post.

  • Rudeski_KharmicHeel

    I love this post…I wish I could take the advice.

  • Woody

    LaughingCat! well said mate! I have recently felt a heavy loss and I still unsure how to deal with this grief.
    Although the worst things that come out of this is I missed out on a very big promotion towards which I have been working for the past two years.
    Now even my boss of two years has moved on. I feel so isolated but need to stay strong for my family.
    Any advice you have on that?

  • laughingcat

    Well, breathe and love and breathe and love and breathe and…. Don’t let your mind get in the way of your feelings. And balance your mental knowing with your feeling knowing, and ride the waves of heavy feelings. When we’re doing deep inner work, usually we don’t concentrate on the outer world stuff. That’s normal. At some point, we find ourselves able to focus again. The point is to find meaning in what we’re doing, and get beyond the feelings like it’s all just a slog. That may mean learning a new skill for fun or money, It definitely means finding what we love and appreciating that. In your case, your family, who are your allies, and may be able to rally with you and together you all can bring a new sense of purpose and togetherness in your bond of love. This chapter will close, and a new one will open. It’s your job to get ready and keep as much of a sense of humor and perspective as you can.

  • Bob

    Bullshit

  • Peter Hill

    Am in the same boat as you.Go for the job,and things will work out.

  • Peter Hill

    I think people have two options-
    1)poor me,all sad,lock myself away,hide away,etc
    Or
    2)F’ck this s’it,i am going to take complete control of my mental state,my life,and drive on and get what i want and deserve.