What’s the difference between reinventing yourself and starting all over again? I think there are two factors that clearly differentiate one from the other: 1) reinventing yourself consists in an act of personal volition: it’s voluntary; and 2) reinvention (at least in theory) is purposeful. As for ‘starting all over again’ . . . it’s very likely both involuntary and without a conscious goal (other than to move away from whatever unfortunate circumstance has left you in that condition). If these things are true (and I’m open to discussion on the matter), then why do I find myself in the throes of an involuntary midlife reinvention? Isn’t ‘involuntary reinventio download (2)n’ a contradiction in terms?

Perhaps it is. However, I’m discovering that, although the conditions of my migration away from my latest entrepreneurial venture may not be entirely voluntary, the movement toward personal reinvention is becoming increasingly more so. Whatever lapses in judgment led me to market midlife insights to people who largely preferred (or, for some psychological and emotional needs, needed) to stay fixed in denial, it was ultimately a good thing to recognize that paying my bills trumped providing quality intellectual products without remuneration – particularly under current market conditions. So, although closing down my internet marketing business was not wholly voluntary, nonetheless it wasn’t involuntary, either. The ability to read the handwriting on the wall is, after all, one of the hallmarks of the spiritual life strategy I call ‘discernment’.

Here’s where I repeat one of my all-time favorite stories: how the Greek philosopher, Epictetus, came to his ‘enlightenment’. Epictetus, although highly educated, was captured and sold into slavery to the Romans where he was forced into service as tutor to a wealthy Roman’s children. The young man chafed in servitude until finally, one day, he went to his mater and said, “Master, from this day forward, I am no longer your slave.” The Roman was both surprised and aghast at the Greek’s declaration. “From now on,” Epictetus continued, “I choose to serve you freely.” In one act of will, Epictetus reinvented himself, throwing off the mantle of victimhood and taking full ownership of his condition. He transformed involuntary service into voluntary. Can’t we, in midlife transition, do the same?

Of course we can. Every event in life can be seen either as happening to us, or happening for us. How we look at it takes no more effort than Epictetus expended in coming to the realization that we are, after all, the Meaning Givers in the physical universe and that whatever meaning we choose to put on events will, ultimately, determine their outcome and their effects. Those in my potential ‘market’ who preferred to allow the midlife transition to take over their lives, blaming their ‘fate’ on others (the boss, the wife or husband, the kids, the neighbors, the government, the establishment, or whatever) chose to surrender their freedom of choice to others, and then to blame others for their predicament. No wonder life under those circumstances sucks!

So, how do you make closing a business or being laid off work for you, especially when your most significant goal for the future is to maintain (or attain) financial solvency? Choosing to accept the situation as you experience it as an opportunity (rather than as an obstacle) becomes the first step. My guest on this week’s Midlife Matters internet radio program, Rosanna Tufts, had a great slogan that works very well here: ‘creation’ and ‘reaction’ are made up of all the same letters, only rearranged. We always have the option of choosing the former over the latter. Once we’ve decided to interpret what’s happened as an opportunity, we then have the possibility of creating our future out of the raw materials of the past. Regardless of the circumstances, we’re never put in the situatiovn of ‘starting over’ from scratch. We have a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience with which we can create a fully positive future.

Your world has only changed, not ended. You can, if you so choose, decide to mourn the possibilities that have passed. Or, you can more fully recognize that not all possibilities were yours from the very outset. Your nature (genetics) and your nurture (training and upbringing) set you out from day 1 with obvious limitations. There are things you could never do, places you could never go, plans you could never accomplish. In fact, your limitations define you: they’re truly what makes you you! From birth onward, every choice you make imposes further limits on your pool of possibility. Day by day, youj’re further defining who you are. Events, like job or career change, have only a limited impact on those determinations. These events are just one more brick added to the structure that is the person who you are becoming. How are you going to use that brick? You’re still the chief architect, you know. There are many things that you can do with the heand that you’re dealt. The real question now is, ‘How will you use your knowledge, skills, experience and imagination to create something new and wonderful for yourself today?

H. Les Brown, MA, CFCC
ProActivation® Coaching
Website: http://www.MidlifeMaster.com
E-Mail: info@ProActivation.com

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Copyright © 2009 H. Les Brown

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