How to Reinvent Yourself When Life Doesn’t Turn Out the Way You Planned

We’ve all been there, or at least many of us have.

You have a foolproof business plan; you put in the time, money and mountain of work to make it successful.  Yet somehow, it stills fails.  Or perhaps you’re on track for a big promotion, and it goes to someone else, or even worse, your company is sold, and you lose your job.

Your entire personal identify is wrapped up in your career, then suddenly it’s gone.  It’s that gut-wrenching moment when you have nowhere to go on Monday.  You look in the proverbial mirror wondering, if I’m not the owner, the partner, the big exec (take your pick) who am I?

For many, the idea of reinventing themselves is petrifying.  People are often so identified with their jobs that it feels like who they are.

Thought leader and bestselling author Mike Robbins knows something about reinvention.

mike robbins headshot
Mike Robbins

Robbins thought his life was over when he blew out his pitching arm, a heartbreaking ending to his promising professional baseball career with the Kansas City Royals.  What do you do when the dream you’ve had all your life is suddenly over, and there’s no Plan B?  The worst blow for Robbins was that when it was over, he realized that he hadn’t really appreciated the experience while it was happening — he was always focused on the next goal, finally making it to the big leagues.  But instead of living in the past, or living with regret, Robbins vowed to never make that mistake again.

He reinvented himself and turned adversity into triumph — speaking all over the country about the importance of appreciation and authenticity, and helping others to make meaningful changes in their lives and work.  Robbins’ latest book, Nothing Changes Until You Do: A Guide to Self-Compassion and Getting Out of Your Own Way, is a testament to reinvention.

“That experience taught me a lot,” Robbins said.  “It’s not the circumstances.  It’s you.”  Nothing Changes Until You Do is about helping people nothing changes until you do book coverbypass the fears and obstacles we all encounter when facing change.

During our recent interview, I spoke with Robbins about why it’s often harder for men in particular to reinvent themselves.  

“Technology’s changing, the workforce is changing, ” says Robbins.  It’s really about people looking within themselves and finding what’s real and what’s true and what’s important to them so that they can reinvent in the jobs that they’re in — or potentially in finding something new to do.  And that’s not always the easiest thing,” says Robbins.

Anyone who’s ever watched a parade of newly minted MBA whiz kids come through their office knows what it’s like to feel like you might be put out to pasture.  And if you’ve ever been unceremoniously let go, you know that it can be devastating.

How many companies have suffered because the executives were unwilling to let go of old models to embrace something new?  How many families have suffered because a parent or partner couldn’t reinvent themselves to cope with a new reality?

“The need for reinvention is a constant in life, in business, in relationships, in everything,” said Robbins.

Ideas, even good ones, will fail.  Companies will be purchased, and sold.  Relationships will change.  There are two choices, you can wish for what was.  Or you can reinvent yourself to deal with what is.

Which one do you think is more effective?

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