Do you wake up in the mornings feeling like you’re stuck in a rut? Are your creative projects languishing? Is life starting to feel a bit stale?
Or perhaps you’ve just been through a big life change? A new career, the end of a relationship, a move to a different city?
Feeling disoriented or stuck at times like these is perfectly normal. Everyone goes through stages of life where you become a bit unsure about who you are or what you should be doing. You feel like you want to be a different version of you. You feel like it’s time to reinvent yourself.
What does it mean to reinvent yourself?
Deciding to reinvent yourself can be as drastic as quitting your job and moving to India. Or it could be something as simple as getting a new hairstyle. What matters is that you actively do things that help you change your mindset, boost your energy, and kickstart your creativity.
Often, changing small things can lead to great changes. Pushing yourself or seeing yourself in a different light can shake up your routine enough to bring about the big changes you actually need.
Whether it’s the beginning of the year, the middle of your life, or the end of a career, here are 21 ways that you can reinvent yourself.
This is a long list, so grab a cuppa, a notebook and pen, and make some notes as you go. Which of these is achievable for you in the next few months? Which ones appeal? Which ones sound awful? Which are impossible? And are they really awful and impossible? Or are you just not really ready yet.
Get more sleep
Chances are you’re just like millions of other people who aren’t getting enough sleep. The obvious answer is – sleep more! Seriously, the science is in, and it shows unequivocally that the benefits of sleep are huge, for your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
It’s easy to be addicted to the productivity whirlwind – how can you get stuff done if you’re sleeping!? But imagine waking each morning feeling refreshed, with enough energy to last you all day. Those extra few hours in bed will mean you can face each day with vigour and clarity.
Change your diet
No, don’t go on a diet. Nothing good ever came out of going on a diet. But change it up a little. Each week, try something new. A new ingredient, a new dish, a new cafe, a new recipe, a new appliance.
Think of it this way. What’s your favourite food? Imagine if you’d never tried it that first time. You’d have gone your whole life without knowing that it was your favourite. Just think what other delectable dishes are out there just waiting for you to adore them.
Take up a sport
Now before you get all huffy and say, “excuse me, I don’t do sports, never enjoyed ‘em, never will” – we get it! It’s true that a lot of us writerly types don’t love sport. Which is exactly why you should try one now. It could be YouTube yoga in the comfort of your own home, darts at the local pub, a 0 to 5k program, or a mixed netball team. Moving your body has health benefits, obviously, but it also clears your mind, boosts your energy, and is an opportunity to meet up with other people. Even solo pursuits like pilates and running can see you joining an online community, which is a great way to expand your networks.
Take up a new hobby
If you can’t stretch to a sport, at the very least take up a new hobby. Again, this is about taking a deliberate step to do something new to change your mindset, so your hobby should reflect that. When we think of hobbies, we usually think of art and crafty things like knitting, quilting, pottery or painting. But your new hobby could also be watching nature documentaries. You can join a French film club or a bird-watching group. Get involved with your local Landcare and help clean up the green spaces in your area.
Anything that is new or different to your usual routine will help your brain to form new connections – oh, and you'll be strengthening connections in your life, too.
Learn a new language
Speaking of that French film club, why not finally learn a new language? So many people talk about how they'd love to learn Italian or whatever, but they're rubbish at languages. It's true that some people can pick up a language faster than others. But all it really takes is time and regular commitment. Listen to podcasts, do flashcards, watch YouTubes, take online courses – just 15 minutes each day and you can be conversational in a few months. And once you learn one language, learning others becomes even easier.
Do something that scares you
Part of what keeps us in our rut is that we become afraid to take risks. Once you have kids, or a mortgage, or any sort of serious commitments, it's natural to want to maintain the status quo. You have worked too hard and sacrificed too much to put your life and family in jeopardy.
Sometimes that natural reticence can spiral out of control to the point where you do nothing new. You don't take any risks, don't go on any adventures, and stay safe in your own little bubble. If that sounds like you, take a few tentative steps outside of your bubble. What you're really afraid of is failure. It's time to banish your demons.
Talk to a stranger. Eat the toast you dropped on the floor. Call your mother. Go rock climbing. Clear out that drawer. Have a political discussion with that uncle. Sing karaoke. Commit to writing a novel. If any of those things made your heart palpitate, put it on your list! Being a little bit afraid is good for you.
Learn a new instrument
Like learning a language, taking up music is both personal and social. You practise by yourself, getting better and better each day, feeling real achievement as the disparate parts come together. And then, when you're ready, you can play for your family, or learn your partner's favourite song, or even join a band. Even if you think you have no musical skill whatsoever, you can definitely learn a few chords and even a whole tune. As long as you commit to a small amount of time each day.
One major way that we wind up feeling stuck or lost is that we're so busy rushing from one appointment to the next disaster that we simply don't have the time to spend a few minutes in our own heads. Seriously, when was the last time you just chilled by yourself? No kids, no books, no traffic, no Netflix, just you and your breath and your thoughts?
Stop looking at the time; enjoy your conversation with your friends. Abandon your pedestrian rage; does it really matter if you get to the supermarket one minute earlier or later? Forget about productivity; focus on the project you're working on and give it your patient attention. Your body, mind, relationships, and work will all benefit from it.
Make a vision board
So far these have all been small everyday things that you can do to start your reinvention process. But if you have a clear goal that you're working towards, you need to visualise it.
A vision board is like those collages we used to make in primary school using cut-outs from magazines. You collect pictures and quotes of things that represent the goals you want to achieve and who you want to be. For example, if you want to be a writer, your vision board could have a picture of an author you admire, a writing cabin, the word ‘freedom', an expensive pen. Anything so that each day when you look at your board, you're reminded of what's ahead of you if you keep working at it.
A bit like a vision board, journalling is a way to hone your thoughts and focus on what's important to you. It can take different forms. Some people swear by morning pages, where you write three pages of freeform writing every morning. If that's too intense for you, try writing a page during your lunch break, or write yourself an email on your phone when you have five minutes. It's a time to check in with yourself, reflect on your day, and think about the future.
Do a course
If you've decided to take up a language or musical instrument, get yourself off to a good start by enrolling in a formal course. Committing to a structured program is a promise to yourself that you and your journey are worth it.
Committing to a course can be life-changing. If you want to explore your creative side, obviously we think you should take a writing course with the Australian Writers' Centre. We have over 55 courses covering every type of writing, from Writing Picture Books and Real Estate Copywriting to Write Your Novel and Travel Writing.
We even have a course called Reinvent Yourself specifically for people just like you. If you’ve been curious about writing or wondering whether it even IS possible to transition into a writing career, consider this your must-have guide.
Find a mentor or life coach
If you have a very clearly defined goal about how you want to change your life – for example, you want to run your own digital content business – then a mentor is a brilliant asset. A mentor is someone that you can bounce ideas off, who will help you clarify your visions, steer you in the right direction, introduce you to useful people, and stop you from running down dead ends.
If you're less clear about what exactly you want for your future, take a look at talking to a life coach. A good life coach is someone who has the training and experience to listen to your desires and fears and help you create a vision for yourself.
Find your tribe
You already have a group of friends, as well as family, work colleagues, drinking buddies, and various other acquaintances. But have you found your tribe?
The word ‘tribe' has risen in popularity in recent years. It basically means a group of people outside your usual circle who share the same vision, values or skills as you do. If you meet two people at a writing conference and you all immediately click – that's your tribe. If you're at a Christmas party and you wind up talking for two hours with someone about your favourite band – that's your tribe.
Finding your tribe can help you escape your rut because it allows you to explore a part of you that your friends and family don't usually get to see. If you're embarrassed about your love of early 80s synth-pop, you might keep it hidden from your friends. Or you might find it hard to talk about your historical romance with your very practical partner. Find your tribe and shine a light on the corners of your life that rarely get a chance to come out.
Get a makeover
For men and women and everyone in between, changing your outward appearance can have a profound effect on your internal psyche. A dramatic new hairstyle, throwing out all your old t-shirts, finally admitting that you hate high heels, simplifying your wardrobe to only wearing black, growing a beard, new jewellery, new colour palette, whatever. These seemingly insignificant things can boost your confidence and leave you feeling like a whole other person. Whether you splash out on a professional makeover, or do it yourself, a new look can mean a new you.
Choose your adverb
A fun thing to do each year is to choose your adverb. So remember, adverbs are the ones that end in -ly and they modify a verb. Dangerously, heroically, quickly, slowly, joyfully are all adverbs. You can choose your adverb at the start of the year, on your birthday, or just some arbitrary date. You then make it your year of living <insert your adverb here>. For example, you could decide that this is your year of living generously, or kindly, or truthfully, or graciously. Or even your year of living wickedly, if that's your thing.
Make a pivot
Making a pivot is one of those phrases that comes from the start-up world. It means to fundamentally shift the focus of your business. Or in the case of a personal pivot, it means to drastically change the way you approach your life. You don't need to change your core beliefs or values – you just find new ways of carrying them out.
Think about your current goals and how you try to achieve them. Now adjust your approach by 180 degrees. That's a pivot.
Finish what you start
Make a promise to yourself that you will finish your projects. Whether you're writing a memoir or renovating your kitchen, finishing your task is so important. You will never feel like you're living your best life if you have 15 abandoned projects.
In fact, don't start anything new until you finish two things. You will be amazed at what you can achieve when you properly commit to reaching your goals.
What would Oprah do?
Channel someone you admire for a day – what would they do? It can be anyone – a musician, entrepreneur, author, even a cartoon character. When you write out your to-do list or need to make a decision, pause for a moment and ask yourself – What would Elon Musk do? Or what would Dr Who do? Try a different person every day and see “who” you enjoy the most.
Immerse yourself in a new world
Choose a topic that interest you and really immerse yourself in it. Listen to podcasts, read books, go to meet-ups, join online groups, and learn the pants off of it. Basically, make it your new obsession. Become annoying about it. Okay, but not too annoying.
And then when you're ready to learn something new, throw yourself headlong into the next topic.
Be kind every day
Make it your mission to say something nice or do one act of kindness every day. This goes beyond just thanking your barista (which is, of course, a polite thing to do). Compliment a colleague, stand up for someone on the train, write a thank you note, write a nice review for a local business, call an old friend just for a chat. Each day, find a reason to make somebody else smile.
Go somewhere you've never been
Going to new places opens your mind to new possibilities. You could book a tour to Cuba for something wildly different. Or you could even visit the next suburb over and walk around the park. Look at a map and start listing all the places near you that you've never been to. Make it your mission to cross places off your list. There's a whole world out there, and it starts on your doorstep.
And if you can go to Cuba, go to Cuba.