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reinventionPlease don’t ask me if I’m retired.  That word isn’t part of my vocabulary.  When my job four years ago and people asked me if I was retiring, my standard reply was “I’m not retiring, I’m reinventing myself!”

Psychologist Warren G. Bennis says, “People who cannot invent and reinvent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out.”  I have never been known for fitting into someone else’s mold.  My short red hair and bright red lipstick can attest to that. 

One definition of “retire” is “to withdraw from office, business, or active life, usually because of age.”  To me, the word “retire” conjures up visions of old people sitting around waiting for their social security checks and judgment day.  In fact, when I worked for IBM in the 1980’s, the rumor was that the average IBM’er lives just 2.7 years after retirement.  With figures like that, I’ve already beaten the odds. 

“Reinvent,” on the other hand, is defined as “to remake or make over, as in a different form.”  Now you have the time to remake your life – the life you always wanted to live.  You are limited only by your imagination and each day is a blank canvas ready for your creation. 

This is the time to do different things and learn new skills.  Would you like visit Hawaii, learn French, earn a degree or certification, or perhaps try yoga?   Start by making two lists of all the things you would like to do – one for profit and one for fun.  Choose an item from each list and create a plan to accomplish them.  When completed, cross them off your list and continue to add new items as you think of them.

A friend, who is most interested in making a profit, has reinvented herself by having a part time job at a fabric store, teaching sewing workshops, creating and selling beautiful jewelry and doing clothing alterations.  She’s in her element doing what she loves and makes money at the same time.  She never wants to go back to being a corporate hostage.

After leaving my last job, where I was an intellectual property paralegal, I started a virtual trademark paralegal service.  My plan was to assist attorneys from all over the world from my home computer.  Within a short time I realized they were doing their own paralegal work because of the economy and didn’t need my services.  A year later I closed my business and combined my interests in the paralegal profession and writing.  I wrote two paralegal articles and got them published in a national paralegal magazine.  From there I wrote articles on a variety of subjects and have gotten many of them published as well. 

Besides writing, I am doing things I love to do and enjoying life.  Some of the ways I do this are to try to exercise thirty minutes a day.  I often walk with a friend at the mall before the stores open.  I also meditate while listening to meditation music.  Since most of my day is spent alone, I try to meet friends often for coffee or lunch.  I also attend a writers group and take classes, such as writing or knitting. 

While you’re reinventing yourself, be sure to get calling cards that reflect who you are now.  Mine say “FREELANCE WRITER” along with my contact information.  You can design them as elaborate or plain as you like.  You can also create a website that matches your calling cards.  It took me only about an hour to create mine and now editors and others can read my published articles.   

Reinvention is not a destination; it’s a work in progress.  Be sure to have fun along the way and don’t look back — you’ll miss what’s in front of you!

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