Reinvent Yourself During the New Year with These 18 Helpful Tips
The push to reinvent yourself hits with each New Year. And it doesn’t matter how young or old you are, you will probably get taken in by it. Sometimes the changes we push for are unnecessary. But other times, they’re the impetus we need to become what we were put here to be.
In the following article, we’ll be discussing the top ways to reinvent yourself whether you’re in high school, college, or just stepping out into the so-called “real world” for the first time. But before we tackle all of that, let’s look at the major obstacles likely to get in your way.
Obstacles to Reinvention
The obstacles to reinvention are almost as many as the ways to overcome them. Almost. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools to help you succeed. But first, you have to come to terms with the true power of the enemy. Here are eight of the primary culprits that will keep you from reaching your goals.
Unfortunately, some things will be beyond your control. You could be born with a disability that keeps you from achieving certain things. Perhaps your home life isn’t the best that it can be. We all face unique struggles that we didn’t ask for. Things we are born into either physically, mentally or spiritually. Don’t let them get the better of you. They will pose challenges that others may not have to deal with in your situation. But these challenges can be overcome, and that’s what we’ll spend the lion’s share of this article discussing.
No one likes to admit failure. One of the not-so-helpful coping mechanisms we’ve devised to help us “deal” with failure? Making excuses that somehow prove it wasn’t our fault things didn’t work out. Even if you’re right, professing those excuses won’t do you any good. And for every excuse you can come up with, there is usually a counterpoint. A “Yes, true, but if you hadn’t done this, it might have still worked out” moment you can’t afford to ignore.
Bad habits like drinking, smoking, procrastination, unprotected sex, and poor spending habits can lead to some pretty gnarly scenarios that are hard to escape. (Or impossible.) All you can do are shed these habits as soon as possible or learn to function within the “new normal” that they create for you.
A Closed Mind
Refusing to listen to help because it contradicts the way you’ve always thought or done things is the number one symptom of a closed mind. Closed-mindedness will make it impossible for you to reinvent yourself. The reason: you don’t think there is “another way” even when all your previous methods have failed or are responsible for requiring a reinvention in the first place.
Allowing Yourself to Be Overwhelmed
Starting out to reinvent yourself can end in a hurry if you get overwhelmed by the scope of what you’re setting out to do. You start thinking more needs to be done than you’ll ever have the time or ability to accomplish. Things unwind from there. In the main points of this article, we’ll give you some coping mechanisms for dealing with the stress of being overwhelmed. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but it starts with one small step in the right direction!
Some of the self-reinvention things you try will come easily. They’re things you’ve always wanted to do but for whatever reason, didn’t have time to address. Now you see an opening and you seize the moment. But others, such as stopping excessive drinking for example, require more strength and determination than we’re able to manifest without some help from our friends. Don’t cut yourself off from people when you need them. We’ll talk about how and when to know the difference as we move further into the tips.
Lack of Focus
In Cal Newport’s book Deep Work, he talks about the importance of focus in helping us to achieve difficult tasks. Self-reinvention is one of the more difficult tasks around, but it’s always one of the most rewarding. To get there, it requires “going deep,” as Newport urges, and focusing on one task at a time until you’ve achieved mastery of it. A lack of focus will make it impossible to get there.
Fear of Failure
Fear of failure can lead you to never try anything worthwhile. But as soon as you figure out that not trying means not achieving means failure anyway, you’re destined to, well, fail. In the following article, we’ll be discussing some tips that you can use to control your fears and actually make them start to work for you.
Now that we know the obstacles to reinventing yourself, it’s time to discuss the surefire tips for helping you get there. Ready? Great, let’s continue!
1. Attack Your Negative Habits
Sit down when you have some mental time to yourself. Make a list of all the bad habits that you know you have. How did they begin? What are they doing to maintain their hold over your life? What would it look like if you were able to overcome them?
This visualization exercise is important because it gives you a chance to think about your problems with a clear head. It also lights the way for getting rid of them. Your ultimate goal is to remove the bad habits you have from your life. Or at least get them under control. Look at it as a you-versus-it thing. Be determined not to be defeated.
2. Read or Watch Something You Normally Would Not
Another great way to reinvent yourself is to set aside some time to read a book or magazine or blog post that’s the opposite of what you normally would as a media consumer. Try to see the other person’s perspective even if you refuse to agree with what they’re stating. Do the same thing with documentaries or television shows or movies.
This step to reinvention will either solidify your viewpoints and help you to argue them better when needed. Or, it will change your perspective from something you previously thought. Either way, you end up better off than you were before.
3. Start at a Single Point
But what if I have too many bad habits? That’s a question we often hear when speaking about self-reinvention. And it’s a good one. After all, if what you’re going for is complete reinvention, how do you expect to get there when you’re so far behind?
This is the wrong way of looking at it, though. So much of reinventing yourself depends on building on previous successes. It’s not an overnight thing. Each accomplishment creates positive momentum. And that momentum helps you overcome one challenge after another until the person you become is far stronger than the one who started out.
Think about it like weightlifting. You don’t just start out able to bench-press 300 pounds. You have to start somewhere. Maybe with 90 pounds. Then, you keep going up in smaller increments. You consume more protein. You cut out unnecessary fats. You keep working harder and harder until you’ve gone as far as your body will take you.
4. Do Not Do It All Overnight
Strap in for the ride. Realize right away that you’re in the process of a journey. It’s okay that you haven’t “won” by tomorrow morning. It’s all about eating the metaphorical elephant one bite at a time. You may not notice changes overnight. But when you look back on your progress a year or two from now, you’ll realize how far you’ve really come. And it will be spectacular!
5. Heal Where You Need To
Sometimes you won’t be able to move forward because of something in your past. The answer isn’t to run from that baggage but confront it. And “confront” can mean a number of things. Perhaps there is an external confrontation that needs to occur. Or maybe you just need to heal from past hurting. Either way, give the matter the attention it deserves.
You won’t be able to run from it and successfully reinvent yourself. So don’t even try. Take all the time you need to heal from it. And if it’s getting in the way of one particular issue, then focus on others while giving it the time and attention it deserves.
6. Build Healthy Habits
One of the best ways to get rid of negative habits (see No. 1) is to start crowding them out with healthier ones. You do this in the same way that you tackle the negative. Do it one at a time until you’ve built up the strength and momentum to take on more.
If your goals are to lose weight and quit smoking, for instance, and you’ve isolated the fact that you turn to smoking and unhealthy snacks to fill time or deal with stress, then work in another stress-dealing habit like running or bicycling that can replace those habits whenever the stresses of life start to become too much.
7. Find a Confidante
It’s certainly easier to overcome some bad habits or build new good habits if you have emotional support in doing so. For this, you’ll want to turn to a friend or someone whose opinion you deeply respect. If you don’t yet have this person in your life, start looking! You can find it in people with similar interests to yours. It could be someone at your school, an older adult like a professional guidance counselor, or someone from a reading group meetup.
8. Accentuate the Positives
No one escapes life without adversity. How you deal with that adversity makes all the difference in whether you succeed or fail. Before giving into despair, you need to realize that life is like a pendulum and that, for every negative, there will be positives that come around as well.
Recognizing those positives when they occur, celebrating the victories, and looking for the silver linings in defeat, will help you stay positive through it all and give you a distinct advantage when it comes to self-reinvention. The alternative merely creates a loop of failure and frustration.
9. Brush Up on Your Weak Points
Where are you the weakest intellectually, physically, emotionally? Isolate each of these points and determine a course of corrective action. That could mean studying or reading more of a subject that gives you trouble. It could mean hitting the gym for strength and cardio workouts. It could mean facing the emotional struggles that have plagued you in the past. Whatever it is, look at it as a muscle that can be strengthened with the proper amount of attention.
10. Avoid Change for the Sake of Change
Many times people in high school or college will want to reinvent themselves simply to be different. They don’t realize they’re looking to change the very things about themselves that make them unique and strong. Avoid this temptation whenever possible.
Reinvention for the sake of reinvention is never a good idea. It blinds you to what makes you special. You should be playing up those qualities, not looking to change them.
11. Get Up Earlier in the Morning
Sounds crazy, especially if you’re not a morning person. But so much can be accomplished in the early part of the day before everyone and everything else start to compete for your time. That’s the thing, though. You want to make sure this time is used productively. So focus it on the elements of reinvention on which you most wish to focus.
12. Set Priorities
You’ll never know where to begin if you fail to set priorities of what’s important from greatest to least. Think of this as an inverted pyramid. You want to start with the heaviest details first. The smaller goals are worth storing away for a rainy day, unless they’re easily attainable and you can quickly grab some “wins” to help build momentum toward the larger whole.
Sit down with pen-and-paper. List the five priorities you most want to address in the New Year. Assign them a number 1-5 with 1 being the top priority and 5 being the lowest. From there, see if you can combine some lower “wins” to help out towards the larger goal. Or, if you’d like to simply focus on the big priority first, do that. The exercise gives you freedom for how you choose to proceed.
13. Build a Reinvention Support Group
Are there other people struggling to reinvent themselves? You know there are! Consider putting out an online call over social media or other meetup sites to meet and discuss your goals. This “reinvention support group” can be a great source of strength to you and the other members. It also can act as a stand-in for confidantes wherever any of you are lacking.
14. Seek Out Mentorship
Look for people in your community or online whom you greatly respect. Ask them if they have the time to mentor you or if they would know of a good person to guide you in some specific way. A mentor can make all the difference when it comes to overcoming obstacles to progress.
Try things. Fail at things. Try new things. Fail at those as well. Don’t be deterred by the progress it may seem that you’re not making. Every failure leads to a probable success later down the road. Be like Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, who famously said, “I haven’t failed — I’ve just found 10,000 that won’t work” and “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
16. Push Yourself Out of Comfort Zones
Comfort zones are mislabeled. When it comes to self-reinvention, they have more in common with comfort prisons than anything else. Learn to break free from their bonds. Part of that is in being willing to experiment (see No. 15). The rest is in finding the joy of self-discovery. Having a sense of amazement at what you’re setting out to accomplish will help you gloss over any perceived failures and find true fulfillment through new ideas and experiences. All this helps you grow as a person.
17. Get Finances in Order
Yes, even as a high school student, finances should be of concern. In fact, it may be more important at that point than any other time because it helps you get started on the right foot. So, if you are looking at your final semester of high school when coming back from the Holidays, start thinking about things like saving and investing money. Also, avoid going to college until you have a clear plan for it. Don’t enroll as an “undecided” without first extensively examining your skills and determining whether college is the right path for you.
Too many high school-aged students get pressured into attending college before they’ve had a chance to explore who they are. That can lead to borrowing money unnecessarily and for longer periods of time if you get caught in the trap of changing majors over and over until finding one that you’re satisfied with.
18. Keep Lists
Make a new list everyday for your short-term priorities. Revisit the longer-term ones every other week or so. Frequent lists keep you focused on the tasks of reinvention that matter the most. They also help you to gauge your progress.
Reinvent Yourself with Confidence and Certainty
The journey to reinvent yourself can be frustrating if you haven’t confronted the obstacles and employed a blueprint for success. Hopefully, the tips and information provided here will be of assistance. Good luck as you set out on this journey! And please feel free to share your progress in the comments section below, as well as any new challenges that you may be facing.
[Featured Image by GoalCast]