Signs for reinvention manifest through reactive, external push factors or proactive, internal pull factors. Push factors include the changing work environment and pull factors consist of uncovering your why and purpose. But how do you know you need to reinvent yourself? What are the calling signs for change?
1. Tiredness and Lethargy
Tiredness is like hitting the snooze button on life. It stems from mental exhaustion; a lack of, or overexertion of mental stimulation and drained physical energy. Professional and personal implications of tiredness include poor organisational performance and conflict within ourselves and others.
Leading up to my corporate life departure, I experienced ongoing symptoms of physical fatigue. I didn’t understand why, and eventually deduced that I was stressed, resulting from a lack of purpose and progress in my role. Following my departure months later, did I realise that the symptoms had stopped. Our bodies have a way of telling us something is wrong even if we mentally don’t register so, thus serving as a good indicator to change.
Boredom can derive from fatigue and is the grounds for daydreaming about idealistic, what-if scenarios. This cause and effect shifts focus towards numbing distractions or time-killers, and considerations for productivity, progress and growth become subdued. Misalignment between achievement to a greater purpose results in boredom being the overarching driver of inaction.
As High Performance Habits author Brendon Burchard says, high performing leaders raise necessity in their mind of what they have to do. They are connected to their why and therefore can do what’s required day in day out, without getting bored, overcome by external expectation or pressure because they see a bigger picture.
Playing the waiting game uses time as a lever to feed hope. This involves hoping that things will miraculously get better or improve and common examples of ‘wait and see’ include:
- I’m waiting for my redundancy package
- I’m waiting for that promotion/pay rise/recognition
- I’ll start *A* once *B* happens
- I can’t do *X* because of *Y*
- I’ve already invested too much time in this *role/company/position/field/professional relationship*
- I feel unequipped to change because I need to develop knowledge on this *skill/field/expertise*
There is never, the perfect conditions, knowledge or time to start. Imperfect action forward is better than no action at all. According to leadership coach Joshua Spodek the hardest part isn’t doing what needs to be done, but choosing to do it.
4. Living for the Weekend
According to the HuffPost, a 2016 study found that less than 50% of Australians were happy with their jobs. Living for the weekend is a syndrome popularised in mass media, and a societal norm that we grind 8 hours a day, 5 hours a week. We do this just to ‘live’ on the weekend, on holidays or whenever we are not at work. Recall that for most of us our working lives extend 45 years or more, why would you do or stay in something that A. you don’t like or B. doesn’t inspire or allow you to contribute in a meaningful way? The reason we don’t change is because of fear, and reinventing yourself isn’t about ridding of fear completely, but learning how to manage it.
5. Feeling Stuck
Being stuck creates sensations of suffocation, overwhelm and fear. Experiencing feelings of being stuck, I questioned my motivations, “Was I just one of those dreamy eyed millennials who job hopped with aspirations to save the world?” What I did know was that I was unhappy and wasn’t growing at the rate I wanted to. Whatever your reason(s), explore why you feel stuck.
A big wake up call occurred when I was asked, “What are you doing at work?” No matter what I said, how I tried to dress up or be excited by my response, our responses always fell flat. Subsequently I’d be asked, “Are you contributing and growing fast enough, and in meaningful ways?” Deep down I knew I was stuck with my job, so how was I able to share energy and excitement with anyone else when I didn’t even believe or felt passionate about it?
6. Stagnating Growth
The journey to greatness often begins the moment challenge and contribution become more important than comfort and ease.
Continual growth is key to constant reinvention. Snazzy tag lines such as “innovate or die” or “disrupt or be disrupted” may be catchy on the ears, but ring true. If we don’t grow, the opposite of non-growth is dying.
At current rates of change through Moore’s Law, we simply don’t have the luxury to wait around. Each week there are articles on technological advancements with artificial intelligence, self driving cars, drones and virtual reality, yet an ongoing joke I had with ex-colleagues is that “We never even rolled out Waterfall completely!”. If your current position doesn’t support or has stopped your growth, it’s time to act, or be acted upon.
7. Unhappiness and Envy
Being unhappy with is a big flag for reinvention with broader life. A study by Daniel Kahneman found that a “happiness plateau” kicks in at an income of USD$75,000. Earning more money doesn’t equate to increased happiness, therefore understanding what drives people is important. Professionally, what motivates according to Dan Pink is autonomy, mastery and purpose. Staying stuck within a role, position or situation for extrinsic reasons creates unhappiness in the long term. The reasons that make us happy are fleeting – once they disappear our source of happiness leaves too.
Similarly, envy exists with comparison to others. Envy of people who subjectively appear to be better off; with more public victories, achieved more etc…is rooted within a core belief that we aren’t good or have enough. Comparing our journey to greener pastures, we need to appreciate our uniqueness and what we have to offer the world as an act of service. If you don’t like how your trekking, its time to review.
8. Seeking Inspiration
Boredom, tiredness and stagnation can morph into ways to seek inspiration through curiosity and learning. Using McKinsey’s Three Horizons of Growth as an example, reinvention can also be considered on three tiers:
- Expanding existing skills
- Enhancing or developing related skills in closely related fields
- Exploring to develop a completely new skill in an entirely new field of expertise
Moving conscious or unconsciously up the curve of growth is an indicator that your path for reinvention has already commenced.
9. Feeling Out of Control
Lack of control is one of the last signs to reinvent because we don’t feel we have a grip and react to external changes. While it’s impossible to have 100% control over everything, discerning what a healthy level of risk is is crucial. Decreased demand or obsolete skills is the starting point for change. Possessing a constant feeling that things are “happening to you” is imperative to invest in exploring ways to yield more control.