How many of you have done one thing your entire professional life? You went to school to do “X” and you are still doing “X” years later? I am always fascinated by people who have that story.
I have had so many different jobs over my professional life that sometimes I have difficulty explaining my background. Much of this change was dictated by necessity. Having been a military spouse for 15 years, I moved every 3 or 4 years. With each move I had to reinvent myself in order to get the next job and make the money we needed to make ends meet. Some reinventions were a little more drastic and desperate than others. Later in my professional career the changes I made were by choice and were to expand my horizons and open options.
After my time as a military spouse ended, I still found it necessary and even desirable to reinvent myself. This has been important as an entrepreneur because with that choice comes the responsibility to shift as the economy and customer demands change. Throw into the mix relocating from the West Coast to the panhandle of Texas, and here I am again reinventing in order to not just survive, but thrive.
So how do I reinvent myself? Here are three tips for you:
*Never stop learning. Always be willing to admit you don’t know everything. Listen to those around you and learn from their mistakes and their victories. Keep reading, watching videos, and studying.
*Assimilate. I’m not saying lose who you are, but take time to get out and meet people. Pay attention to the local vibe. Network.
*Yes, you can. Believe you can. Can what? Can do whatever it is that you want to do and are willing to put the effort into doing. Take what you know, learn what you need to, and go for it.
Here is a true story. I found myself at Yokota Air Base in Japan. I had spent 12 years working as a legal assistant for several different law firms. There were two legal offices on Base, but both were staffed with military paralegals, so no room for me in that capacity. There was, however, a position open for a court reporter. I learned that the Air Force did not use the stenotype machine, but rather used a stenomask system. I had never used a stenomask system, but I developed a plan.
I went into the office and met with the Law Office Manager. I offered to volunteer in the office in exchange for being trained on the stenomask machine so I could apply for the job. She happily agreed as they had been without a court reporter for some time. I treated my volunteer responsibilities like a regular job. I went in on regular hours and I worked hard. As the paralegals had time, they trained me to use the equipment. WIthin three months I was able to complete my application for the job and was hired as a GS6 with promised progression each year at performance review time so long as I continued to improve. When I left Yokota I had reached the top pay grade I could in that position at GS8. I was often requested by name to work at other Bases in the area. I developed a solid reputation among visiting judges as a good court reporter.
I went in knowing I had a strong skill base and could learn the rest. I was willing to put in the work to gain the experience I needed. The really cool thing--you can do the same! Want to learn to do something? Then ask. You might be surprised what people are willing to share with you. Know you’re going to have a learning curve, but don’t let it discourage you. My husband says it best. You have to be willing to stink at something in order to learn to be really good at it.
Have you ever reinvented yourself? If not, do you want to? Perhaps a professional reinvention is a bit much. Reinvent yourself socially. Learn a new hobby. Do something to change it up. Reinvention is itself a skill worth possessing.