Updated: Jan 1
If you're thinking of re-inventing yourself in 2021 you need to know this
When I recovered from a breakdown I thought that my “re-invention” was complete. I’d gone through the typical “Heroes Journey” and emerged a happier, stronger, better version of me.
If you don’t know Joseph Campbell’s work, the Heroes Journey is a common story structure followed by many cultures, in which a character leaves their humble life to go on an unexpected adventure to overcome some great challenge. They have to face hardship and tests of character usually in the form of evil demons and impossible tasks, and learn something new, before they can return home, transformed, to share their gifts with others.
This structure underpins almost every successful story we love to watch or read (think Star Wars/The Hobbit), and coaches use it as a metaphor to help people go through their own transformation journeys.
My version was leaving a small village to create a successful career in the big town, spending years on autopilot acquiring success and wealth, only to find it not enough. Struck down by stress and ill health, I go to rock bottom, find myself lost, face my inner demons, rebuild myself, find a purpose, and return to my old life transformed, ready to share all my new skills and experiences with others so they don’t have to go where I did.
The new me was here. Job done.
How naive. Fast forward 6 years and I’m now in the middle of another huge, life changing transition period. In just 18 months I’ve gone from being a corporate career woman, a daughter, a partner and a cat parent - in a relatively stable world - to a business owner navigating the entrepreneurial roller coaster in the middle of a global pandemic sans partner, mum, cat and a few other family members who sadly didn’t make it through this year.
So, this is why most good films have sequels repeating the same story!
It’s funny because I spent years leading people through change. Creating that bold vision for the future, setting goals, planning for the unexpected. I was an expert in helping them navigate their emotions, process grief and come out the other side stronger and better equipped for the next time such a change happened. Only I still felt blind-sided when hit by my own tsunami of change.
So, I know a bit about change and personal growth. I know that the only thing certain in life is change and therefore nothing is certain. I know that as humans we like to feel a sense of control, and we love familiarity because it’s safe. And when we find a place where we feel happy and content and safe most of the time, we do whatever we can to stay there.
Except life doesn’t work that way.
In the blink of an eye our comfortable, familiar lives can shift in ways we never imagined. We can lose a job, a loved one, our health. We can find ourselves having to make decisions we never thought we’d have to make.
Bruce Feiler, a writer of a book called "Life is in the Transitions – Mastering Change at any Age" calls these moments Lifequakes. He interviewed hundreds of people who had experienced life changing transitions and coded them into patterns. In Thrive Global he wrote “The most challenging step may be the first. Lifequakes can be voluntary or involuntary, but the transitions that grow out of them must be voluntary. You must choose to enter this state of change….Transitions involve three distinct phases. I call them “the long goodbye,” “the messy