17 Proven Strategies to Reinvent Yourself — Even If You Feel Too Old
We all fall down sometimes. You can’t live life without making some major mistakes and hitting a few brick walls and low points along the way.
Fortunately, it is not about how low you fall, but about how high you bounce back up when you hit the bottom and have had enough.
These low points can be the perfect time to reinvent yourself.
They can give you the chance to learn from your mistakes. They give you the impetus to set new goals. They inspire you to make changes about the parts of your life you don’t like.
Ultimately, they can help you become a better version of yourself.
My Personal Story of Reinvention
I have been there more than once.
I finished college and was stuck in a dead-end job with nowhere to go. I dreaded my work and life so much I would sometimes sit in the car and have panic attacks on breaks.
But I reinvented myself. I decided I wanted to be my own boss, and worked hard to improve myself, learn new things, and find a way to be a success on my own terms.
After a bit of time and struggle, I succeeded and began to make good money as an online marketer in the early days of the interweb.
This lasted a few years until I was forced to reinvent myself again. Google made major changes to how they did business, and many online properties that were making me a lot of money began to disappear almost overnight. I was once again struggling to make ends meet.
I was at another low point. But I didn’t panic. It was time to take a hard look at my life and reinvent myself again.
This was when I decided that, rather than market other people’s stuff, it was time to serve other people with the best stuff I could make for them. This came in the form of all the books I have written in the past 10 years, and this website.
It took time, but both eventually became successful.
None of this would have happened if I had not chosen to reinvent myself.
Reinvention Can Be a Series of Small Changes
Now these are two fairly major examples of reinventing yourself. But not all reinvention needs to be earthshaking.
Perhaps a relationship you cared about ends. You might want to take steps to improve yourself and your choices to make sure the next relationship is a good one.
You might want to reinvent yourself in a new job for better career opportunities and advancement.
Having a child certainly requires reinventing yourself.
You get the picture.
A major catastrophe in your life can certainly be a reason to reinvent yourself. But you may also want to reinvent yourself simply as a process of getting older and bit more mature.
I have been at zero and built a great life, only to have it come crashing back down—twice! If a goofball like me can do it, so can you.
This post distills everything I have learned about reinventing yourself on my own. It talks about what I have discussed with other people I know who have made major positive changes in their lives. And it discusses what I have read about people who have made major positive life changes.
How to Reinvent Yourself
The following is what you need or can use to reinvent yourself. This is a hierarchical list. The first few items include what you must have to succeed. Then we move to the steps that are extremely helpful. Then to things that help a bit. Finally, this list finishes with optional items that might be nice to reinvent yourself, but mostly depend upon your circumstances.
Let’s get to it…
How to Reinvent Yourself in 17 Easy Steps
1. Do you really want to change?
Let’s face it: Sometimes people think they should change because of what others tell them. For example, a smoker might think they should change because other people keep telling them they should. But they will almost never succeed in quitting unless they truly desire to quit within their own minds.
The fact of the matter is that you can never change until you truly want to change.
Reinventing yourself is not easy. It will take time, effort, and a bit of willpower. If you are not 100% sold on reinventing yourself, you are likely to fail. So think long and hard about your desire for change before you take a wrecking ball to your life.
Alternatively, you may decide your life is pretty good, and you don’t need major change. Maybe changing one small thing will change your life.
All of this can be decided if you take the time to sit and be honest with yourself about how much your truly desire change.
2. It takes time to reinvent yourself.
A new habit can be learned in as little as 30 days. But reinvention will mean changing MANY habits over a much longer period of time.
You do not need to make all changes at once, but the process of total reinvention will take multiple years, not months.
You need to give your reinvention some time and breathing room.
Do not think that you are going to go to sleep one person and wake up reinvented. It doesn’t work that way. It is a process with it own up and downs, highs and lows, and small failures and triumphs.
3. Create a vision of your future self.
Reinventing yourself is not about making changes for the sake of change. It is about making changes with a sense of purpose to reach an ultimate goal.
Imagine yourself at some point in a better future.
- How are you different?
- What have you accomplished?
- How has your life changed?
- How do you feel?
This will give you an idea of where you want to go.
This is your dream self.
It is unlikely things will turn out just as you dream them. As John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”
The point of this vision is to give you direction and heighten your desire. Your dream may not come about exactly as you planned it, but it will set you in a direction that will ensure you reach something close to it—as long as you continue to grow, learn, and work for it.
4. Goal setting: make your dream into a goal.
Dreams can inspire you. But on their own they are just…dreams.
If you want to reinvent yourself, you need to turn your dreams into action—and through action make your dreams become reality.
The only real way to do this is to set goals and make plans.
“Dreams inspire. Goals change lives.”
Step 1: Create a five-year plan.
The first step in a five-year plan is to think about everything that is part of your dream of a better future.
This should be more than thinking about some amount of money you will make, or the vision of a beautiful home and happy family. It should cover all aspects of your life.
It should include where you want to be in terms of:
- Career success
- Leisure (fun)
As a function of brainstorming, go ahead and get crazy—list everything you can think of that could potentially be achieved in five years.
Then, when you are done, begin crossing things off.
Because you can’t have everything.
Trying to do too much will only ensure that you do everything half-assed.
You will need to pare your five-year goals down NO MORE than five things you really desire.
Step 2: Set your goals the right way.
There are many different theories on how to set your goals.
One idea is to follow the goal-setting activities of Olympians. They achieve incredible things by following a series of four-year plans, and often follow a lifelong plan guiding them to achieve success in a single moment in time. This is quite inspiring.
Then there is the decision of choosing between process goals and outcome goals.
In a nutshell, the outcome goal is all about the result, and the process goal is all about creating a framework that will allow you to reach something like your goal (basically creating habits that will steer you toward changes that will push you toward your goal without thought).
You will actually need to set both types of goals to be successful.
Finally, there is a need to make all your goals S.M.A.R.T.
This form of goal setting ensures that your goals will actually work. The details of the S.M.A.R.T. plan ensuring that the language of the goal is clear, concise, and actually achievable.
All your goals, whether daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, five-year, or lifetime goals, should be S.M.A.R.T. goals, with the further out goals being slightly flexible and subject to some changes.
Type of Goal Worksheet
S.M.A.R.T. Goals Worksheet
Best for An Individual
Goal Execution Worksheet
Best for Multiple Goals With Multiple Steps
Child’s Goal Setting Worksheet
Best Goals Sheet for Kids
Simple Goal Setting Worksheet
Simplest Goal Setting Form That Is Still Effective
Step 3: Set smaller and smaller goals to reach your ultimate goal.
Five years is too long of a time to effectively track a single goal. So the next step is to break your goals down into more manageable chunks.
As you break them down, be sure to keep in mind the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting framework so you keep your goals achievable.
First, break your goals down into five yearly chunks.
Next, break down these yearly goals into 12 monthly steps you will take to achieve them.
Then, break down these monthly goals into the steps you need to achieve for this month.
Finally, set your weekly goals and decide what single action you will take TODAY to further your progress.
If you need more help with setting goals the right way, I encourage you to check out this short and actionable S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting book:
5. Work on your habits.
You may discover habits to change as part of the process of deciding what goals you want to achieve. For example, if you want to greatly improve your health over the next five years, you might want to consider a series of healthy habits, such as the benefits of walking daily.
The best way to do this is serially—one habit at a time. Just like the byline for this site says. (The reason this “one habit at a time” is so important is due to ego depletion and its effect on willpower.)
Make yourself keep at it for that long, whether you love or hate it at first.
Sticking with a habit for 30 days is a good ballpark figure for the point where the habit just starts to begin to be part of your lifestyle.
At this point, make a decision. If it seems like a worthwhile habit, keep it going while you experiment with your next new habit change. If you truly hate the habit and want it out of your life, let it go and try something new.
“Experimenting with habit change is a key to reinventing yourself in the long term.”
Keep this going for a few years and you will wake up one day realizing that you have completely transformed your life.
When it comes to changing your habits, I have two important articles you should read to help you succeed in your reinvention challenges. These articles should make the complicated and difficult process of changing habits much simpler.
Not easier, mind you, but simpler.
The first article shows you how to create a plan to break a bad habit, in four distinct phases.
The second post shows you the (simpler) steps for creating a brand new habit.
6. Understand what failure actually is.
It is human nature to desire success. After all, we are a competitive species.
But not everyone can win everything, every time. Don’t be afraid of failure when you are striving to become greater than yourself.
People fail all the time. I have failed. I am sure you have failed too. Everyone falls down. It is the getting up that matters.
Don’t be scared of a few small hiccups of failure in your five-year plan for reinventing yourself.
They will happen.
And they will make you better for having happened.
Don’t believe me? Take a few moments to read these failure stories about super successful people who once failed catastrophically:
7. Get help, get a mentor, and network with others.
Failure and pitfalls teach us important lessons. But I have to admit, it is much nicer to not learn these lessons the “hard” way.
This is where a mentor can come in handy.
A mentor is someone who has been there. They understand the position you are in, and they are already where you want to go. They can teach you the secrets you need to get to where you want to go in life. They can guide you, teach you, act as a sounding board for your ideas—and give you advice when you are messing up.
Perhaps the most important thing a mentor brings to the table is that they can act as a knowledgeable source of accountability.
Accountability helps to keep you on track. It can be difficult to succeed with any major life change without some form of accountability. Just look at all the ways accountability helps you succeed.
But what is a mentor these days?
Traditionally, a mentor is someone who has been in the same job as you and has the experience to give you direct advice on how to proceed from their past personal experiences and knowledge.
I would certainly argue that this is still the “best” form of mentorship, and the best way to be accountable for your actions. But it is not your only option. You can also find a mentor in a number of other ways:
- Hire a coach.
- Form a mentoring partnership with a peer.
- Find a mastermind group.
- Research questions in a forum or other public group.
- Read books about the area you want to improve.
- Talk over your choices with a trusted friend or relative.
- Research blogs written by knowledgeable experts.
Watch and learn from videos on places like YouTube or Udemy.
Become a "Super Learner" to Build Great Study Habits
Before we continue with the next ten habits, I wanted to recommend a Udemy course called "Become a SuperLearner V2: Learn Speed Reading & Boost Memory."
The key to great study habits is retaining what you've learned. With Become a SuperLearner, you will discover how to rapidly learn new concepts. Plus you'll harness the skills of the world's fastest readers and memory record-holders.
Listen to podcasts from knowledgeable or questing podcasters.
These are just a few ideas off the top of my head.
We have the advantage of living in the digital age. Knowledge is cheap and easy to find, and all mentorship is, at its core, simply finding a method to distill and gain knowledge from people with more experience than you.
The final step for getting help in addition to mentoring and accountability is finding some form of networking.
An example of effective networking, accountability, and mentoring while reinventing yourself:
Networking in the area you want to reinvent yourself is the best way to “farm” those potential mentors and accountability partners.
Maybe this sounds a bit confusing. Let me give you a concrete example of how you can network in an area where you intend to reinvent yourself.
Let’s say one of your five-year goals is to run a marathon, but at the moment the only time you run is when you are chased—and you do not know any serious runners who can be a mentor.
Of course the most important step is getting out there and doing it every day.
But you may also want to go out and learn some of the basics.
Running blogs, magazines, podcasts, videos, books, audiobooks, and forums will help you do this. They will give you enough information to know what questions to ask. They will give you the language you need to have a knowledgeable conversation.
Your next step might be to join a running club. Get out there and meet people. Find people who run at your level and try to run with them. Get them to be your accountability partners. Find people who are far more advanced than you in running, and pick their brains, trying to get them to be a bit of a mentor in your journey.
Then just keep at it, keep improving, and keep updating those five-year goals.
Simple enough, right?
8. Keep learning.
This may be one of the most important steps in this entire list when it comes to reinventing yourself.
Learning is not something you simply do in school and abandon once you enter the “real world.” To be successful in life AND in personal reinvention you will need to develop a growth mindset.
Reinvention is personal. It means many different things to many different people.
Your dreams for reinvention may revolve around getting ahead in your job.
It may be about creating something special, like publishing a book.
You may desire to improve your health and wellness.
It may be about getting rid of bad habits.
It might mean losing some weight.
It might be about living a more mindful lifestyle.
Your reinvention might simply be about taking more time for self-care, and for family and loved ones.
The one thread all these things have in common is that you can always learn more about how to get ahead in all the different methods of reinvention.
You can learn new skills that give you a competitive advantage for your career.
You may need to both research many topics for a book and learn the ins and outs of the publishing/self-publishing world.
If you want to be healthier, you are going to want to keep up on the latest science of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle.
Changing your bad habits will take some research (and I hope you consider THIS blog a good resource for your continuing education).
Losing weight takes mostly effort and discipline, and can be very tough. But learning a few tricks can help.
Above are the things I personally consider mandatory for reinventing yourself. If you are not willing to put in the effort of these eight steps, your efforts will almost certainly fail (unless your reinvention is something super simple).
The things below this box still matter, and should be followed. But not being perfect on one or two may not kill your chances. I would rate the following group of reinvention tasks as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
9. Get out of your comfort zone.
When you stop letting your anxiety and fear rule your life, you begin to make the major breakthroughs that symbolize true transformation in life.
This can be tough. Few people want to leave their comfort zones because…well, because it is comfortable.
Doing things you may not like, may not be good at, and may not understand is something most people spend their lives trying to avoid.
Getting out of your comfort zone means doing the opposite:
- Doing the things that scare you.
- Working on improving your weaknesses rather than focusing on your strengths.
- Trying new things.
- Facing your anxiety.
All of this can be disconcerting. While some people may dip their toes outside of their comfort zones, few people actually dive headfirst into the pool and really swim outside their comfort zones.
Check out this post for seven steps to get out of your comfort zone.
10. Take things one step at a time.
This was covered a little bit in step three of the goal-setting section, under the idea of setting goals small enough to be successful.
But it is worth reiterating here.
Reinvention is a long process. It may take years. Don’t get overwhelmed by only focusing on the big picture.
Break your goals down into manageable chunks, and then break them down again. If you keep your goals small, they will be easier to achieve. Plus, each success will give you a bit of motivation to carry you into the next step.
Understand the power of small wins for goal and habits. Take it one step at a time.
11. Check your ego at the door.
Many people are too proud—they don’t want to discuss their fears, anxieties, and failures.
Having pride in yourself is a wonderful thing, but being too proud simply means that you will refrain from letting others know when you need their help. And if you truly want to succeed in transforming your life, you will want the help of other people.
Pride may also make you think you are too good for some tasks, or that some things are beneath you.
Never think that way.
No job is too small or unimportant. Approach these tasks with an open-minded philosophy of “What can this task teach me?”
Even if the only lesson is to put you in a position to outsource the task in the future, you have learned something.
12. Don’t justify your decision to reinvent yourself.
If people ask you about your change, be open and honest with them.
You should be proud of your decision to make self-improvement changes in your life. There is a reason you have decided to reinvent yourself, and you should be proud of it. Have some passion for your prospective life changes.
Only you can decide what changes your life needs. The people you hang out with daily at the bar may not understand the reason you stop going and instead focus on your important life changes. But it is your life, not theirs. Ultimately, they need to respect your decisions—not the other way around.
Never be ashamed to make the changes you need to improve yourself.
13. Keep your finances under control.
Your reinvention may be focused on better managing your finances. If so, this is an essential step.
But even if all the changes you desire have nothing to do with money, your finances might take some sort of a hit.
Reinventing yourself is not always free. You may spend money on books, training, lessons, gym memberships, meal plans, new clothes, fitness equipment, office supplies, coaching, and a whole slew of other things.
Self-improvement is not always cheap or free.
If you are wealthy, these costs won’t matter. However, if you are struggling to get by, these costs can wreak havoc with your finances. But that doesn’t mean these expenses become any less necessary.
If finances are a problem that might hold you back from achieving your reinvention goals, you may want to consider making financial management and budgeting some of your long-term reinvention goals.
Here are some resources for managing your finances:
14. Start your day early.
Reinvention will take some extra effort. Your day is probably already full, so you will need to find some more time to work at achieving your goals.
The best place to “add time” to your day is the morning.
This is the time you are fresh, at your best, and ready to go. If you wait until later in the day to work on your reinvention, life will surely intrude and you will keep finding reasons to procrastinate.
I am not naturally a morning person. Until my mid-20s I would commonly start my day at around 10 am. However, when I started to work on improving my life and reinventing myself, I made a conscious decision to start my day at an earlier hour, and it has made all the difference in the world.
Waking up early gives you more time to do activities that make you a better person, both personally and professionally. It charges your engines and can actually have a positive effect that lasts the entire day.
I highly recommend building a strong morning routine. It will have a huge impact on your life, regardless of whether you are reinventing yourself or just want to do a bit better.
15. Be aggressive when going after your goals.
If you are shy, passive, or an introvert, you may not want to network with others.
I get it.
I consider myself an introvert. Approaching strangers to start a conversation is one of the things I dread. But if you want to make changes in your life, it will be something you may have to do from time to time.
Again, this is part of the whole “comfort zone” thing. To succeed in reinventing yourself you may need to be more aggressive and outgoing than you would be naturally.
16. What happens when you get depressed or scared, lose focus, or get peer pressured to resume your old ways?
Dealing with depression, fear, and anxiety: Reinvention is a long-term game. There will certainly be some days when you feel depressed and think that you will never reach your goals.
The best way to deal with this depression and anxiety about reaching your goals is to just take some quiet time to yourself. Sit alone with your thoughts for 20-30 minutes. Remind yourself why the goals you are striving toward matter so much to you. Do some low-grade meditation and think positive thoughts about your success. Remind yourself how far you have come, and stop being bummed out by how far you have to go.
To deal with this depression and anxiety on a daily basis, I recommend writing out a few positive daily affirmations for your goals that you can repeat every morning (or evening) to keep you inspired and motivated.
Dealing with loss of focus: The answer to this is basically the same as above:
Remind yourself why this reinvention matters to you.
Do daily affirmations to keep the idea of the change you hope to achieve in the front of your mind.
Dealing with peer pressure: If your old friends are holding you back, you might need to find new friends.
If they are holding you back from improving yourself, they are not truly your friends anyway.
People who try to reinvent themselves may find people who try to pull them back or bring them down.
When this happens, you need to learn to say “no” and find some new friends.
"We are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with."
- Jim Rohn
Keep in mind what motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said: “We are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with.”
What he meant was simple: If you surround yourself with successful, positive, and supportive people, they help support you and inspire you to achieve. But if you surround yourself with lazy, self-absorbed malcontents, they will only work to keep dragging you down. They will make you feel bad about your desire to improve yourself.
17. What if you feel you are not strong enough, smart enough, or dedicated enough to reinvent yourself?
I don’t like to curse on this blog. But my answer to that is simple:
If you desire change, you can make it happen. It may not be easy, but you surely have the capabilities to make it happen. Stop underestimating yourself.
A final word on reinventing yourself.
I hope you enjoyed this post on reinventing yourself. If you are thinking about (or working on) some major changes in your life, I hope this posts gives you some good ideas and links to help make your change a success.
Please check out the links on this page for further information and guidance to help you get all the tools you can get into your toolbox to help you achieve the change you desire and deserve.
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Thanks for you time. I wish you the best of luck in changing your life for the better.