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The brutal steps I used to take a different path and live a life that makes me smile. These steps might help you do the same.

This article serves as a reminder to me as to what is possible. It’s a mental note I want to leave online for others who may find themselves in a similar place.

Unlike popular viral articles on the subject, I didn’t reinvent myself overnight, or in 30 days, or using one secret, or even in a year. I’m a slow learner when it comes to life. It took me more than two years to reinvent myself. How long it takes for you is entirely subjective.

It’s not how long it takes to reinvent yourself that matters; it’s why.

Knowing why you want to reinvent yourself will help you complete the process and stop you from giving up.

My reason for reinvention was as follows:

  • Life was leading nowhere
  • Mental illness was taking its toll
  • Finding a romantic partner looked almost impossible
  • Opportunities were being burnt for no good reason
  • Selfishness had clearly defined way too much of life

These reasons led me to want to reinvent my life. Those reasons led me to Youtube of all places, where my journey of reinvention started. Reinvention starts from a strange place that often doesn’t look like reinvention.

Reinvention feels like you’ve had enough — and that’s not a bad thing.

All of these steps I’m about to take you through may not help you, but my hope is that at least a few do, so that your journey can begin and you can finish it off in your own way.

Here’s what my process of reinvention looks like.

Be prepared to start again

Reinvention is a big word for a reason. Here’s the full meaning:

“The action or process through which something is changed so much that it appears to be entirely new.” — Wikipedia

Becoming entirely new is a big deal and the process begins with being prepared to start again.

In my life, that meant giving up music altogether, quitting a startup I love, distancing myself from family, and spending a huge amount of time alone contemplating the next phase of life. It’s near impossible to want to reinvent yourself and not start mostly from scratch.

If you want the life you’ve never had, you’ve got to trade the one you currently have in for an upgrade.

Getting to the point where I was okay to start again was difficult. Frustration ended up becoming the catalyst for me to start the process.

The difficult process of reflection

As you look back on the events and experiences you’ve had to date, you’ll start to see life from the rearview mirror. Knowing where you’ve been provides some insight into where you might want to go.

To ignore the past and call it “a screwed up mess” can make you ignorant and stop you from seeing all the opportunities that lie in the reflection process.

You don’t need to get all “woo woo” and spiritual. What worked for me was jotting down a list of as many things I could recall that led me to this moment of wanting to reinvent myself.

You want to be somebody different, but first, who are you right now? This question is my favorite when it comes to reflection:

“How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?”
— Jerry Colonna

Document your journey

This one is a little obscure and probably not one you’d expect to find in a reinvention checklist.

I decided to document my journey of reinvention for the world to see. (You can Google my name and you’ll see every piece of that journey across many platforms.)

The method of choice was writing. I took every part of the process and wrote about it. It helped me as much as it helped the few people who emailed me along the journey and said they found those articles helpful.

Documenting your own process gives you a point of reference that shows where you started and where you got to. That’s useful for you and if you share it, it could be useful to somebody else.

There are no shortcuts I’m aware of

If you truly want to reinvent yourself, you need to be patient enough with just how long it’s going to take. While no one can tell you exactly how long, it is going to take some time and probably longer than you expect.

The time it takes to reinvent yourself comes down to how much you’re willing to learn in the process and accept that you are responsible for everything that happens in your life. That is both a blessing and a curse.

Nothing worth doing, including the act of reinvention, happens in a heartbeat. It takes blood, sweat, tears, a few ice creams you know you shouldn’t eat but must to keep going, and a real commitment that you’re not prepared to break no matter how tough it gets.

There is no shortcut to reinvention other than the process itself.

Fly to a place you never thought you would

This was a powerful step for me, but a brutal one because I was afraid of flying and had never left my hometown of Melbourne — other than one occasion where I flew for 60-minutes to Sydney as a kid.

I ended up flying to a place I never thought I would, to attend a seminar. It seemed ridiculous. On the first day, my mind only had one thought, “What the hell am I doing here?”

The process of flying and attending that seminar was uncomfortable and that ended up being exactly what I needed. When you’re in an uncomfortable environment and can’t escape, you’re forced to adapt to your new version of the human wilderness.

By adapting, I met another guy from Brisbane who was going through the same process of reinvention. We decided to complete the reinvention process as a team and are still friends to this day.

Starting with a plane trip to an unknown place is an excellent idea machine for reinvention.

Finding the time

Reinvention takes time. You might be wondering how you find the time when you’ve got so much going on already. What I did was use the late hours of the night and the early hours of the morning to create blocks of time that were previously allocated to nothing.

In the early morning, while everyone slept, I thought about ideas, experiences and people who could help me reinvent myself. Late at night, I wrote lots of words that, at the time, had no meaning.

These words were sort of like journal entries, but not really. These journal entries became a form of short essays. These short essays became blog posts. These blog posts eventually got shared on the internet through an opportunity that was invisible to me at the time.

These same blog posts helped me discover writing. Writing helped me reinvent myself. Writing led me to who I am today.

Finding the time is crucial to discover those activities that you wouldn’t normally do that could become part of the life you’ve never had, which you might slap the label of reinvention on one day in the future.

Assess your health

Health was a part of my reinvention process because frankly, my health sucked ass. I was tired, rundown, exhausted, sick, had a runny nose, got regular headaches and didn’t feel like doing a helluva lot.

The three pillars of health that helped were sunshine, diet and exercise.

I went for walks around my neighborhood after work and even late at night.

I slept for longer and prioritized sleep.

I got my lazy ass to the gym and lifted a few weights and ran on the treadmill.

They seem like insignificant tasks in the context of reinvention that can sound grandiose, but it was the small things that led to what can only be described as a huge change years later.

Small decisions

Like I just said, it wasn’t the huge stuff that mattered the most during this process. My reinvention was made up of a lot of small things that you might brush off and call a coincidence or unimportant.

But looking back on the process, it was a change to the small decisions I made that had the biggest impact.

Here are some examples of small decisions I made:

  • Saying no to other people’s priorities
  • Not drinking each weekend
  • Axing a few friends that were addicted to drugs
  • Setting boundaries with family
  • Spending time alone to contemplate life

None of these small decisions will wow you, I’m sure of it. They are not worth skipping over either. The sum of these small decisions helped lead me to reinvent my life.

Sweat the small stuff; it leads to the big stuff.

Choose learning

Part of the process was reading a few books. I hadn’t read a single book since high school and my learning had completely stalled.

I believed that all the learning needed had been acquired and this was what led me to stand still before going through the reinvention process.

A couple of books got me back on my way to learning again. One that stands out was “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. The simple idea of thinking differently was valuable to someone who had never read a self-improvement book in their entire life.

See it as an opportunity

This entire process is an opportunity. It’s not something to be afraid of or to delay. It’s an opportunity to be somebody you never thought you could be that you one day might be proud of.

What stands out today after going through this reinvention process, if nothing else, is that I’m proud of who I’ve become and the little difference I’m able to make in a small number of lives.

A change in work

Work is a big part of your life and you don’t need a calculator to understand just how much of your life you spend working and earning a living.

Changing my work was a big part of the reinvention process. What might surprise you is that I changed work many times before getting roughly in the pocket of work I enjoy. There were many failed positions, managers, skills and companies involved. But ultimately, a change in work gave new meaning to the transformation process.

One of the ideas that fell out of this process was leadership. I never saw myself as a leader until I sought out to reinvent myself.

When I tried leadership in the context of my writing hobby, it felt amazing.

When I tried the same experiment in my line of work, it felt phenomenal.

A change in work can make you see positions and leadership roles that you may have never considered before.

When would now be a good time?

This was a question I used to create urgency at different stages of the reinvention process.

It’s tempting to stew over thoughts and ideas endlessly and never do anything with them. This question is a reminder to take a small action right now before your brain forgets.

An idea makes the most sense at the time you think of it, and that’s why actioning that idea at the same time is so powerful.

What if your inner-circle disagree?

In my case, my inner-circle was not helpful.

They told me the internet was saturated and there was no room for another writer, especially without a blog that had been doing SEO for years. They told me it was too late for social media. Facebook had been around for longer than five years and the opportunity had passed, I was told.

“Find a cushy job, sit back, relax and don’t stress so much” was the advice that accidentally sought to take my dreams to a new low.

If your inner-circle disagree, screw them. Find a new inner-circle. Ask yourself different questions.

Why settle for a mediocre life?

You can decide not to reinvent yourself even though deep down, you know you must. But why settle for a mediocre life? You only get one. Why not be freaking proud of it?

What became blatantly obvious to me during this process was that if I didn’t reinvent myself, then I’d be signing up for a mediocre life in return.

A mediocre life is one where you ignore your goals/dreams.

A mediocre life is where you live to be less than you know you can be.

A mediocre life is one where you live on someone else’s terms.

A mediocre life is where you look back one day on your life and be pissed off and disappointed at who you became.

You are not mediocre — therefore, reinventing yourself is an excellent option for you. What have you got to lose amigo? For me, the loss was everything: my self-worth, my goals, my childhood aspirations — the whole nine-yards. No thanks. Not now. Not ever.

What to do when you have reinvented yourself

The process of reinvention never ends. It’s how we grow.

You reinvent yourself during the course of a lifetime, over and over. Do it. Do it again. If you can, learn to fall in love with it.

There’s one last piece of the puzzle, though. If reinvention is level one of the game of life, helping someone else reinvent themselves is level two.

When you think you’re making progress at learning to reinvent yourself over and over, find it somewhere inside yourself to help one person do the same: not millions, not thousands, not an entire nation — one person.

It’s at this point in the reinvention phase that you’ve learned the point of the entire process.

Reinvention is not about what it can do for you. Reinvention is about what it can help you do for others. That’s when you come full circle in the reinvention cycle and it’s a bizarre moment.

I hope these steps will help you reinvent yourself or lead to an idea that might start the process for you.

You deserve to be happy, healthy, enjoy life, and look back one day and be proud. Use these steps to reinvent your life and then help someone else do the same. You can be so much more than you ever thought you could be.