Newsletter #452 – Reinventing Yourself

Next week the American Association of Christian Counselors holds their 25th anniversary conference. This reminds me of my history as co-founder of AACC and my decision to resign when we grew to about 15,000 members. My former partner and I worked to bring a smooth transition and I gave a public blessing to my successor as I left. But soon struggles arose in me that I had not anticipated. I felt a loss of my identity. It became more difficult to get books published. The speaking invitations dried up. I struggled with my self-worth. I prayed. Eventually I felt led to the conclusion that it was time to reinvent myself, to develop my career in a different direction, to build something new.

“Reinvent Your Career” is the theme of a cover story in Fortune Magazine (July 4, 2011). “There’s just one way to achieve job security,” according to Fortune. ”Reinvent yourself—no matter what your age, education, skill set, or the color of your collar…. Successful reinventors all come to embrace the future, using new technologies, particularly social media, to help them leverage their professional skills.” They do not view themselves as victims. They don’t react passively to career bumps. As best they can, they take control.

For me that meant diligently seeking God’s guidance, talking with a coach and with a couple of close friends, re-evaluating my skills, strengths, passions, interests, and spiritual gifts. I pondered what God had blessed in the past and what would be ideal for the next phase in my life journey. I learned. I read, I kept my eyes open. Mostly I waited, sometimes patiently. In time, my latent interests in coaching, leadership, mentoring and writing came into clearer focus.

Fortune writers have some additional suggestions. Reinvention may not be for everybody but it can be done:

  • Recognize that reinvention can be terrifying, requiring that you admit what you don’t know, then actively learning the skills you need.
  • Acknowledge that you may have to start from scratch.
  • Become a more active networker.
  • Get on line. “Reinvention these days is digital.” Find somebody to help you navigate the technology.

Based on your experience, what would you add? Please comment.

  1. Becoming a more active networker is a challenge but necessary. I see it so clearing in the reinvention journey. In rural settings it takes the form of digital networking which means two new skills to learn.

    As a pastor who is reinventing himself after 33 years in one church I appreciate your sharing the thoughts and resources. Your resource sharing is a great service.

  2. I went through a painful and major career transition 3 1/2 years ago. I spent about 5 months figuring out my next move and had to keep repeating to myself a simple phrase, “Take your identity TO what you do, not FROM it.” Easier said than done, but so important. Rich

    • Thanks Rich. What a great quotation. I remember you telling me a little about your struggles at that time. Send me an email sometime and tell me how things are going now.

    • Edmund Chan
    • September 23rd, 2011

    Re-inventing oneself is a proactive journey.
    It is a necessary growth process for mastering life’s transitions.
    I have learnt four simple principles that are helpful in this process –

    1. Knowing how to repair our past
    2. Knowing how to re-pack for the future
    3. Knowing how to re-prioritize the present
    4. Knowing how to re-vitalize our walk with God.

    What a redemptive journey! (2 Cor 5:7)

    • Donald A. Lichi, Ph.D.
    • September 23rd, 2011

    Hi Gary,
    I remember those days well and praise God that He arranged for our paths to cross during this transition season of your life. May God give you many more years of vibrant and creative input to the Christian culture. Amen! Also, just an FYI. The book I co-authored, “Broken Windows of the Soul” is now available on Amazon.com and Kindle. Don Lichi

    • Thanks Don. Of course I remember those days well and am grateful for friends like you who walked alongside me.

    • Tebogo Lekhehle
    • September 26th, 2011

    I guess that social networking has grown to be a powerful source of communication. If one wants to change lives, especially if one is in their late years, they can join in these social networks and begin doing something that can change lives instead of being against sn.

    • The more I read business articles and next generation information the more I agree that we can’t ignore social networking. Would Jesus have been in Facebook and LinkedIn? Probably, in part because he wanted to connect with the world where he lived.

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