How to (painlessly) reinvent yourself when life demands it

When you face a setback in your life, you have two choices.

In these fast-paced times, it seems like change is the only constant we have. Some people accept change gracefully, while others hold on kicking and screaming. But today it’s more important than ever to embrace change and be able to reinvent yourself. Why? Because innovation is changing markets daily, because our global economy has leveled the playing field and introduced more competition than ever before, and because life occasionally compels us to move in a new direction — like it or not.

Whether you’re switching jobs in a competitive market, starting a new career, or experiencing a transition in your personal life, upheaval can be really frightening. But it’s also a priceless opportunity to reinvent yourself.

When you face a setback in your life, you have two choices. Remain stuck or move forward; it’s that simple. Life is too short to spend it stuck and miserable. Take action now to change your life or get ready to watch life pass you by.

Reinventing yourself demands change. No matter how dire your circumstances, you can make changes today that will prepare you for a better tomorrow. You may have to find a new way to make a living, or start over in a new city, or take a big risk that terrifies you. Still, you have to be willing to change. It may not always be easy, but it sure beats staying stuck for the rest of your life.

Realize it’s never too late

During the course of your lifetime, you will be called upon to reinvent yourself, time and time again. Don’t let yourself stay stuck in what you know. Make the most of the resilience you now have under your belt with overcoming previous challenges and strive for new horizons. As you envision this new version of yourself, what are some steps you can take today to put that new self into action?

Take an honest look at your life

Muster the courage to look at your life and figure out where you’ve gone wrong, and the changes you need to make to get back on track. Own up to the mistakes you have made and take responsibility for the part you played in getting yourself stuck. Krasnow points out that this kind of brutal honesty is not for the faint of heart. It requires courage to take full responsibility for your life and most importantly for the failures in your wake. But if you can sit down and face your own mistakes, you will free yourself up to learn from the painful consequences you are facing today.

Move forward; just do it

Change is not rocket science. We all have a tendency to make life so complicated when it doesn’t have to be. Simply make a decision to move forward. Don’t try; just do it. People say they’re going to try to change. Try? There is no such thing. There’s doing it or not doing it. ‘Try’ is a word that you should eliminate from your vocabulary right now.

Dream big

The only real challenge in creating the life you’ve always wanted is your inability or unwillingness to free up your imagination to envision your dream in all of its glory. In other words, you are only as successful as your perceived limitations. How often do you limit yourself when envisioning the success you are capable of achieving? Don’t settle for the limited vista of your present-day life. Instead, allow yourself to be willing to travel well beyond the bounds of the landscapes you may not be able to imagine today.

Stay focused

Once you decide to make a change in your life, it’s time to get serious and focus on your goals. Think of life as a journey in a train that travels on a track. Each track leads to a specific destination. Make a point of staying on the track of your choice, without getting distracted and switching tracks. If you stay focused, you will certainly reach your desired destination.

Pace yourself

Making a major life change requires a steady pace. You work at it each day and keep at it (and then keep at it some more). Remember that extraordinary creations are not built in a day through occasional bursts of effort, but rather are crafted over long periods of time with daily, steady tasks. It’s a marathon; stop exhausting yourself by sprinting from place to place. Instead, stay on course with your goals and remain consistent.

Know that failure is not an option

When you realize that failure is not an option, it becomes clear that there is no stopping at the first obstacle you encounter along the way. There is an opening, even in the most stubborn of barricades. Where is the opening in your current wall of obstacles?

Is there a secret passage you had overlooked but is now emerging in front of you? Take that hidden path and forge ahead. Just keep your eye on where you want to go and you might find that a setback along the way was actually a shortcut to your desired destination!

We all know that change is not the most comfortable part of our lives. But know that the process of transformation is a gratifying experience, providing you find the courage to do it. You can adapt. You can take a new path in your life. And you will undoubtedly be better for it in the long run.

Paul G. Krasnow is the author of The Success Code: A Guide for Achieving Your Personal Best in Business and LifeHe is a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, where he has been a top producer for 40 years.