I’m ready for a change. For the past several years, I’ve been heading in too many directions at once. It was a fun ride for awhile, but it’s time to hone in on a few core objectives, a path through the wilderness. I know many others are facing similar challenges. Whether by economic necessity or design, this kind of transition requires nothing short of a reinvention. Having started down this road, here are four ways I’ve been learning to listen along the way:
1. Listen to the “Wackos”
The so-called “wackos” of this world my just have some things to teach us. Has somebody handed you a copy of a DVD called The Secret over the past couple of years? It happened to me. The Secret – an explanation of something called the “law of attraction” seems like a pretty funky mix of pseudo science, pseudo psychology, and pseudo world religion. But skepticism aside, there are some lessons from The Secret that I have really taken to heart. Ask the universe (or the ginormous force of your choosing) for what you dream of. What can it hurt? And more than that, believing in the possibility of something more than what your life is, really believing that something more is possible – that’s the key insight of The Secret. That kind of inner perspective will give you the fire in the belly to believe in yourself, in what you have to offer, in what the impact of your life can really be on the world. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’re never going to reinvent yourself. If your dreams are getting stiffled, sometimes it pays to look to the “wackos” beyond the mainstream to discover new insights that will help you gain the chutzpah to reinvent.
2. Listen to the Straight-Shooters
So the “wackos” have something to teach you, but so do the “grounded” people. The bean counters. The practical ones. I have read books by and talked to many, many people who are straight shooters. These are the people who are not bothering you with get rich quick schemes. They have proven systems and processes they want you to know about. People like David Allen are awesome in this regard. Allen’s Getting Things Done process helps me organize thoughts, ideas, and make things happen. Dreaming with the wackos is a big part of reinvention, but making a reinvention happen, changing course in life in a sensible way, this is where the straight shooters are gonna be of great service to you.
3. Listen to Walt Disney
That’s right, Disney, and I’m not talking about Jiminy Cricket sitting on your knee saying, “let your conscience be your guide.” The movie Enchanted is, for me, a lesson in not taking yourself too seriously, but sticking to your values. In the beginning of Enchanted, Amy Adams’ princess character and her sunny side up worldview are mocked and seemingly disproved without mercy by all other characters involved. But by the end, the Disney credo – sweetness is larger than malice; there is loads of room for happiness and hope in this life– is re-affirmed by all but the too jaded evil villainess. So reinvention tip #3 is: Be willing to laugh at yourself, but at the end of the day play to your values. Being able to laugh at your foibles, yet embrace the core of who you are is a strength you will need in the reinvention process. Which leads us to …
4. Listen to Yourself
Of course the hard work of reinvention is listening to yourself. Reinvention means listening to the gut answers to the tough questions: “Am I satisfied?” “Am I living the life I’d hoped for?” A year ago, I really wasn’t. But the process of discovery has been amazing and wonderful. I’ve been discovering talents that I knew I had but didn’t take seriously enough. I’ve been cutting through other people’s expectations to find my own sense of calling in life. Listening to yourself is not about being self-centered and self-absorbed. It’s the opposite. It’s about paying attention to what you know about yourself in order to contribute your very best to the world. Listen to that part of yourself that knows you can do it!
That’s it, four simple steps to success! No, obviously it’s going to be a slog through some of this listening work. But the work is well worth it. That’s advice from someone partway through the journey. So screw up some courage, people, and get reinventing!