Reinventing Yourself

Written By Jennifer Kalison

What Does It Mean to Reinvent Yourself?

One definition of reinvention, according to, is “to make as if for the first time something already invented.”

Another definition of the word is “to remake or redo completely.”

The latter makes me think of all those shows featuring people who, after a tough period in their lives, get a haircut, some better clothes, and, like magic, a subsequent new outlook on life.

Not to knock the tactic – getting a more professional-looking haircut was one thing I did after upgrading my resume, and strengthening my LinkedIn profile. I definitely looked more interview-ready.

But I had a lot more to do to actually be ready. A preliminary look at the job descriptions on LinkedIn made my eyes cross. The postings were full of lingo, job titles, and requirements that looked so unfamiliar, so foreign…I felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, exiting her house after it stopped spinning, and seeing a brand new world in startling Technicolor. There I was, at my computer, like Dorothy just outside her door – eyes wide, taking in the sights – unfamiliar titles and acronyms, and applications, oh my!

If I was going to compete for a job in this new normal, I figured I had some rebranding to do.

I thought I had reinvented myself in the past. I’d gone from labeling myself a singer/songwriter in Pennsylvania, to being an actor in New York, eventually moving to Central Florida, where writing and art became my creative outlets. In all of these cases, however, I’d supported myself with a full-time job. My source of income, and the pattern of my days, remained pretty much the same. I see this more as adaptation rather than reinvention.

Fortunately, this pattern works for me. I went from supporting myself in order to pursue my art, to focusing on my job and turning to art more for personal reasons. But once the job went away, and I started seeing how the workforce has changed, I started thinking more about reinvention.

How to Reinvent Yourself

They say those who can’t “do,” teach. As I write this, l believe that I’m learning how to “do.” I offer these thoughts as observations, and from what I’ve observed, I believe that a professional reinvention can be broken down into three steps. Three simple – though not necessarily easy – steps:

Step 1. Define your goal

If you’re in the market for a new job, and your goal is to remain in the same, or a similar, industry, the landscape might make more sense to you. You can do some research and develop new skills to become competitive. It could take a lot of work, energy, and/or money, but the journey to future opportunities has a map.

For the rest of us, it might take some level of soul searching, and honest self-assessment to decide what we want to become. The more focused your goal, the easier it should be to follow through with steps 2 and 3.

Do you want to work for a company, or be a freelancer? Are you looking to start, or sell, your own company? Retire? Focus on a completely different career from the one in which you’ve been working?

Potential Starting Points / Approaches:

– Honest self-examination – by yourself, or with the help of a counselor

– Personality assessments – such as Myers-Briggs, The Birkman Method, or StrengthsFinder 2.0

– Leading with rational thinking – what careers make the most money, or are in high demand? Do any of those paths match your aptitude and interests?

– Volunteering – a good way to try something new, especially if you’re unsure if you’d like it

Potential Pitfalls:

– Fear

– Self doubt

– Exhaustion / feeling overwhelmed

– Financial limitations

No one is immune to these pitfalls, which is why job search groups, accountability buddies, and countless articles on stress relief are so often recommended. Of course, what works for one person won’t work for another, so finding the right support system can be time consuming, but likely worth the effort. Frequently stepping back and reassessing your needs can keep you on track as well.

Step 2. Pursue your goal

Again, this is simple, but not easy. Time and money are significant factors. Do what you can with what you have.

Potential options:

– Classes – Either for a formal degree, to get some level of certification, or a stand-alone class for a specific skill…knowledge is power

– DIY education – There’s no shortage of YouTube videos, books, and online offers for courses, many of which are good. LinkedIn Learning (including what was known as is very popular, and you can sometimes access LinkedIn courses for free.

– Networking – The more specific your goal, the better you can follow through with the frequently suggested plan: target where you’d want to work, try to connect with someone there, and then follow up if possible. Joining networking groups and casually speaking to people who might be knowledgeable about your chosen industry (or who know someone who is) counts too, according to me.

– Volunteering – Not only good for a trial run in a given field, but also a potential place to make contacts

Potential Pitfalls:

– Fear

– Self doubt

– Exhaustion / feeling overwhelmed

– Financial limitations

Take a breath, step back and reassess what’s working, and what isn’t. Hopefully, you’ve been

building a support network, which can help, and also brings me to the third step…

Step 3. Seek out a community

Look for professional groups (like PSGCNJ), clubs, or Meetup groups – to help stay current, make connections, and network. Aim to develop a support system, made up of people who can best understand your professional triumphs and challenges.

You might also want to meet people outside of your professional life, with whom you share other interests, to take a break from the stresses of work, and support each other personally.

Research tells us that being part of a community keeps us healthier and happier, which in turn can keep us more engaged and productive at work.

Dorothy Gale learned this as she found help from the strangers in Oz. They became friends who she in turn helped. I’m thinking the castle guards might represent the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) in this scenario. Maybe the flying monkeys are all those bogus posts and long since filled positions that now serve as clickbait…

…but I digress. This is about you, and where you best fit in the working world. You have the brains, the heart, and the courage. You’ve always had the power. Look inside yourself, and find your place, and find your place.

About the writer:

Jennifer Kalison is an ever-evolving administrative professional with experience in print publishing services, purchasing, office management, and entertainment, as well as a background in the arts. Currently based in Central Florida, she is seeking her next opportunity, and occasionally reminding herself to take her own advice.