I’ve (so far) had three types of career: academic (internationally), business manager (in two large UK companies) and as an independent consultant (all in rather different technical areas).
I’m currently thinking about the next phase, which will probably centre around ‘giving something back to the community’, although perhaps not in a traditional way.
Part of this is just my makeup, I like doing and exploring different things, even if changing areas often gets progressively more difficult (a new learning curve each time) although still very rewarding.
In hindsight, it’s clear that my previous ‘reinventions’ were carried out in a fairly haphazard manner – I just got on with it (‘ignorance is bliss’). I’ve often thought there must be a better way. In this context I came across this insightful article by Saul Kaplan which is well worth thinking about if this sort of thing interests you:
Why aren’t we taught how to reinvent ourselves in school? Reinvention is imperative as a life skill. You would think we would at least be exposed to the fundamentals of personal exploration and reinvention while we are in school. Instead we seem increasingly focused on the skills necessary to get a specific job, a job that is highly unlikely to exist five years from now. As a society we highly prize specialty education pathways that track students toward narrow career choices instead of celebrating education pathways emphasizing a broad platform and skill set useful in doing future work that doesn’t exist today. Education and workforce development programs should emphasize foundational life skills that are transferable and enabling the personal confidence and skills to constantly reinvent ourselves.
Reinvention is a journey not a destination. It doesn’t have to be a scare word. You don’t have to know what you’re reinventing yourself to in order to work on reinventing yourself. It isn’t about stopping one thing in order to do or be something else. It’s about spending time every day, every month and every year constantly reinventing. It’s about personal R&D to explore and test new possibilities. It’s about experimenting all the time to uncover latent opportunities. It’s about continuing to strengthen our current selves while simultaneously working on our future selves by actively engaging in new ideas, environments and practices. You don’t have to stop doing what you’re currently doing you just have to allow yourself the freedom to try more stuff.
He then goes on to give a list of 15 practical ways to help ‘build your reinvention muscle’. It’s interesting that I already do most of them so I guess that’s a built-in character trait.
However perhaps the main point is the thinking about it all the time and trying some small experiments in new directions rather than waiting until you’re totally fed up and desperate for a sudden change (or worse, when a change is forced upon you).