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Why Reinvention Doesn’t Mean Starting From Scratch

Lots of us get to a point in life where we think we need to transform or reinvent ourselves. It’s almost a rite of passage. But the misconception is that it’s really, really hard because it means chucking everything out that you’ve ever done or been, and starting again from scratch.

Truth is that true and lasting transformation can come from small tweaks. In the words of Paul Kelly, from little things big things grow. Before my cancer diagnosis, I reinvented my brand. But I used what I already knew and had. I understood what was working for me, what I could leverage and dial up, then what I wanted to tone down. I worked out where I could step out of my comfort zone, then made a commercial decision about my first tweak.

And … I did a professional photo shoot to get a really accurate reflection of who I was, rather than something totally awks. It was a great investment and kickstart to where and how I wanted to be in the world. I also started sharing more personal stuff on social media and my site, and that was key—I showed up more. Initially it was confronting—what are people going to think and say?—but I have only ever gotten positive feedback.

I didn’t have to abandon my current career or lifestyle to achieve my goals, or make drastic changes. I learned starting from scratch isn’t always the best approach.

Transforming your career—or life, if you want—is more about making small, consistent changes that can have a significant impact over time. The key lies in identifying the areas that you want to improve, then taking small steps towards ticking off those goals. By making gradual changes, you can avoid overwhelming yourself and boost your chances of success.

Here’s five reasons why transforming doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch:

  1. You already have valuable experience and skills. There’s no need to disregard the great things you’ve accumulated over the years. Instead, if you want to switch careers or start a new business, leverage the skills you’ve already developed and apply them to the new direction.
  2. Small changes are big winners. Think about when you make small changes to your diet and exercise routine. Over time, they add up to big improvements to your health and wellbeing. Same with work: don’t disregard the power of a wardrobe stylist or a copy writer to overhaul your website direction.
  3. Starting from scratch can be a total freak out. Avoid overwhelm, anxiety and stress by focusing on making slow steady progress towards goals. Set deadlines to keep you accountable but know nothing has to be built overnight. This can help you feel more motivated and in control of your changes.
  4. You can build on your existing support system. Tap into family, friends, colleagues and mentors who know your history and your strengths and can give guidance and support.
  5. You can learn from past experience. Use what you’ve already achieved and learned to make informed decision in the future. Then you don’t have to make the same mistakes and will boost your chances of success.

The key is to understand the outcome you want to achieve, then work out everything you already have in your personal arsenal that you can leverage: what you might need to stop doing, then three things that you can potentially start doing more of to get the result you want.

You have so much experience that is hard earned and may have taken decades to create. Use it as a weapon, not as something to tear down. Shine the light on you by putting yourself out there and use your voice so people understand the value you bring to the table.