The Rules Of Reinvention

Starting from scratch isn't an easy feat, but it can be done. Here's our take on how to open new doors andcreate the life you'vealways wanted.

a time. I actually took just two courses my freshman and sophomore years. Those were my ‘baby steps’. And then I ramped it up and increased my course load.”

When you embark on your reinvention, don’t look farther than where you are. Books like One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by psychologist Dr. Robert Maurer (Workman Publishing Co.; $16.95) teach the importance of celebrating every pound you lose, every course you take, or every lap you swim. Such mini celebrations positively reinforce your progress. “You don’t get to the top of the stairs from the bottom of the stairs without taking the stairs,” says Mitchell. “Each step gets you one step closer to reaching your goal.”

Rule #5: Create a support team.
“People need support in standing in their own power,” says Taylor. That support can come through a teacher, mentor, coach, therapist, or group. When Harris went through her career reinvention to pursue her passion for interior design, she found solace in the strong support of friends. “A friend mailed me a note saying, ‘I hope you realize how inspirational you are to those of us that see you working hard trying to make this change. It’s encouraged us to do some things that we’ve always thought of doing.’ And I thought that was just beautiful.”

Our experts suggest enlisting the help of a coach. The International Coaching Federation (www.coachfederation.org) offers an online resource for finding a coach tailored to address your specific needs. This Coach Referral Service gives prospective clients the opportunity to choose coaches based on focus, field, price range, location, and even gender. You can also visit www.blackcounselors.com for a listing of black counselors or contact the Association of Black Psychologists (www.abpsi.org) for the best person to guide and oversee your reinvention. “My clients and I have regular check-ins, which keeps them accountable,” says Ward.

Whether they are experts or not, your support group should be made up of trustworthy individuals you respect who have your best interest at heart. “If you’re not willing to look at it yourself,” Taylor says, “then that’s another reason for someone else to do it for you. You have blind spots, so you need objective feedback.”

Rule #6: Allow the transformation to take time.
Life is a series of choices. You can’t follow your passion unless your basic needs are being met. “Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, until you take care of your basic survival needs, you’re not going to have room to start following your passion,” says Mitchell. For Harris, the clients and the camaraderie at her former salon were important, not the hair. “The people were my passion,” she says, “the craft was not necessarily.” Instead of waiting for change, she began creating it. For example, Harris scheduled her customers around her interior design classes.

With any transition, you must give yourself time to adjust. Write out weekly, monthly, and yearly goals, so you can see the transformation taking place over time. If you find yourself in a never-ending cycle of

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