by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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Tis the season for many of you…we are easing into summertime as I write this, which means it is graduation time for a lot of students out there.  Big changes are coming your way, and a chance to hone the Art of Reinvention, as this will be an important skill several times in your life.

I wanted to share with you some thoughts that are left unsaid far too often.  This transition is difficult.  You’ve known it was coming for a while now, been working towards a degree and a shot at building a life that you vaguely have in mind at this stage.  You don’t know what you don’t know in many cases, and in some instances you are actually aware of the things you don’t know.  Ignorance is not bliss, it is dangerous in some ways.  It is easy to wander down a path that is not going to serve you for long.  Soon you may find yourself in a situation you never planned on, and now you are digging your way out.  Let’s avoid this by planning ahead.

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was the opposite of what most people will hear often.  This might be a great place to start the practice of Reinvention that life is placing upon you now.  You soon will not longer be a student, or student athlete, or however you currently define yourself.  A common thought to share is this one:

“Do what you love to do and you’ll feel like you never work a day in your life”

It’s a classic, and I think terrible advice for most people.  A small percentage get to do things this way, such as a baseball player or a musician, but the rest of us, not the right approach in my opinion.  Here was the advice that was shared with me oh so many years ago, and that I have tried to bring to fruition:

Keep your job and your passion separate.  Find a career that facilitates the lifestyle you want to live, and then pursue that.  Have your hobbies and passions on the side, and if they never make you any money it won’t matter one bit.

I have lived this way much of my life.  At 15 years of age I decided I was going to be a Pro Racquetball Player.  I spent the next eight years working towards this goal, and constructed a life that allowed the pursuit of this dream.  I went about it the wrong way, scrounging a living out of my passion.  What I should have done was become a fireman who plays Pro Racquetball.  This would have allowed me to pay the bills with my day job, move my schedule around whenever needed for traveling to events, and let me play racquetball because I loved it.  Instead, I did it the “classic way” and I burned out.  I took the one thing I was most passionate about at that stage of life and sucked all of the fun out of it.  Making it my job killed the love I had for the sport.  Please learn from this error in planning of mine, I think you will benefit greatly if you do.

When this pursuit ended, I had to reinvent myself.  Similar to graduating college, my life took a right turn that left my head spinning.  It took a while before I could say I had my feet under me to any degree.  I saw myself through the lens of Pro Racquetball player for in essence a decade of my life and letting go of that and reinventing myself didn’t happen overnight.  Slowly but surely I worked things out; I got a job and I started to build a life I was happy with.  I entered the world of sales and learned the ropes in several different industries.  I increased my income substantially compared to my athlete days, but didn’t plan out the financial side of my life very well.  This would become another area of life where I needed to reinvent myself.  I was $70,000 in debt before I finally wised up and radically overhauled my thoughts and beliefs around money.  Only then did I become debt free and start living very differently.

Leaving behind a hard-stamped identity like “football player” or “Supply Chain Management student” is not easy, but hopefully you will soon discover that these labels are just that, a surface level sticker that most people see first.  Soon you will learn what really matters, and that is the deep level stuff.  Who you are as a person, do you serve others, are you leaving a positive mark on the world?  It took me a while to learn this stuff too, mainly I believe the reason to be I didn’t look at the world this way.   But I learned as I went; I didn’t expect myself to understand everything that was so new or that I had not dealt with before.

Reinvention is not that hard…the first week or two.  It’s like a new workout program or diet plan.  You have a reason to make a change and then you have a lot of enthusiasm for the new direction you are headed.  But after a few days you start to feel uncomfortable in this new version of you that you’ve constructed.  It is easy to get imposter syndrome, feeling like you are a fraud living a radically different way than you have for so long.  Things are far more unpredictable, and this eats at you.  Before long, you will crave the “certainty” that your former life provided for you.  You didn’t have control over everything. but you had an idea of what life entailed most of the time.  This is the difficult stage of reinvention, but you must persist.  Because only when you do will things open up for you.  Part of reinvention is clearing space for a new chapter in your life to start getting written.

So for those of you in the process of finding a real job right out of college, maybe moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone, etc., these are big sweeping changes in life.  And that is a good thing, you need to move forward and go out and seek your place in the world.  This is how things have always been, and likely always will be.  It can be intimidating, but on the other side of fear lies life’s biggest and best adventures.  Be brave, even if you have to fake it for a while.

When you get things aligned, it will be time to build a life around the new circumstances you find yourself in.  But the good news is, as part of your reinvention you get to drop and add things that as you wish.  If you used to be someone that slept in until 10am every day and let tasks pile up until the last minute, you can change this.  Going into a new set of living parameters means that you have the opportunity to start fresh and improve.  Especially if you move to a new city and no one knows you.  There are no pre-established rules or expectations (or lack thereof) tattooed on you that you have to live up to or keep going.  You are not “that person” anymore.  You get to start fresh…reinvent, label free.

I can tell you from experience that you need to rebuild and replace the things in life you have now that are good and productive as soon as you can.  If working out on a regular basis has been part of your life, be sure to join a gym in your new location.  If you are used to a team environment, get into a crossfit style gym and take group classes.  Get a new circle of friends established so that you are not alone in your new surroundings.  Piece by piece replace and rebuild the pieces and start to construct a life that you will be happy living.  Reinvent yourself.  It will be for the best, I can tell you this from experience.

 

I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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