“When things are bad, it’s the best time to reinvent yourself.” ~ George Lopez
If you often catch yourself dreaming of being someone else, it’s usually because you are not happy with whom you’ve become over time. False lives into which we are sometimes forced, tricked, blackmailed or lives we end up in by making wrong choices, more often than not turn into lives of misery, regret, and bitterness. Life rarely offers a second chance, so how do we end this charade and start living in earnest?
Living a false life
Don’t you sometimes wish you could turn the clock back and take a different path in life? If it happens occasionally, it’s OK for it happens to all of us from time to time, but if you constantly lament about what “could have been”, then it’s a sure sign that you took a wrong turn in life and that you need to reinvent yourself.
How do we end up living a life we never wanted? It may take years before we summon the courage to admit to ourselves that, somewhere along the line, we took a wrong turn. And it’s never easy admitting to yourself you were wrong.
We all have high hopes for the future when we are young. But over time, society, circumstances and our own life choices shape and steer our life, and sometimes along the way, we lose control over the direction our life is taking.
We may find ourselves in circumstances very different from what we had hoped for. If in this “unplanned” life we often feel trapped, uneasy or always under pressure to catch up, we can be sure it’s a life we were not meant for, even if we enjoy some aspects of it.
We are often not masters of our destiny, and circumstances sometimes force us into accepting the “second best” options in life. How long it will take you to realize you’ve been living a lie depends on many things, but even if they are aware of the mistake they made, many decide to stick to this unfulfilling life for fear of change and uncertainty.
On the other hand, those strong enough to challenge life will do everything to get out of the vicious circle of resentment over missed opportunities and frustration of being unable to live a meaningful and purposeful life.
Reinventing yourself doesn’t mean that all your beliefs, actions and life choices were wrong and that you now have to become a completely different person. You need to look hard into your past and figure out what was it, or when was it, that things started going downhill for you. Once you know where and when the mistake was made, you can start plotting your road to recovery.
But, before taking any steps, be brutally honest with yourself and tell yourself what was it that brought you to the situation you are in now. You may have been too young, or powerless, or in a situation, those big life decisions were made for you by others, but more often than not, it is our own lack of planning, unrealistic expectations or lack of direction, that fool us into overestimating ourselves or taking too big a risk.
We have all heard of people who claim that for them “life began at 40 or 50”… Actually, life “begins” when we stop pretending and start being true to ourselves and instead of living for others, start living for ourselves.
The happy reinvented you.
Everyone changes over time, but sometimes your environment may have a problem accepting the new you. Especially if the “new” you is, or threatens to become, better, happier or more successful than those around you. Even those closest to you may find it difficult to accept that you have outgrown the role they are used to, or the role they had planned for you.
This is particularly true of women who are, more often than men, molded into certain roles. A happy, confident person is not so easy to push around and some may even miss the sad, miserable you because it made their own unhappy lives slightly easier to bear. In other words, be prepared to meet with resistance and ready to confront the world.
To reinvent yourself, be prepared to dig deep:
Identify the reason.
Identify the reason you’ve been living a life you never wanted or the moment when you started feeling trapped. Be brutally honest with yourself because it’s most likely that you yourself created the life you now have to live. Blaming others won’t help, it will only lead to more bitterness. And if you want to reinvent yourself, you need to let go of blame.
Think of what it would take to radically change your life.
Some changes may be easy to implement and some improvements would show quickly, but it is the fundamental, long-term action that is the most challenging. The bigger the “lie” you’ve been living, the bigger the change you will have to make to your life.
Think long-term and make a business like life-plan.
Be prepared for a career change, lower pay, downsizing or whatever else it might take to create a meaningful life you feel comfortable in. In other words, be prepared to give up even the things you now feel you can’t live without.
Stop worrying about what others will say, and for once in your life be who you really want to be. You will find that a life without pretense is such a relief.
Keep in mind that in order to reinvent yourself you don’t have to become a different person, you just have to be true to yourself. For, as Joseph Campbell so beautifully put it, “You have to give up the life you planned, so as to have the life that’s waiting for you”.