Are you:

  • stuck in a midlife crisis?
  • overcoming an obstacle?
  • constantly thinking, “my life is over”?

Then this ultimate guide is for you.

In this guide, I’m going to show you how to reinvent yourself.

To help with this, I interviewed Todd Herman, author of the best-selling book The Alter Ego Effect: The Power of Secret Identities to Transform Your Life. He’s worked with elite performers in both sports and business for over 2 decades and is a master of transforming people.

Check out our video below:

What Does it Mean to Reinvent Yourself?

Reinventing yourself means to change parts of yourself that you don’t like or are no longer serving you. It could mean changing your profession, bad habits, traits, or even pursuing new skills. If you feel like you want to reinvent yourself, it might be because of one of two reasons:

  1. You realize you are in the wrong path, career, or relationship. This means you have been climbing the wrong ladder.
  2. You realize you are not climbing fast enough. You have a goal but it seems unattainable. 
2 reasons to reinvent yourself: you've been climbing the wrong ladder and the ladder seems impossible to reach.

The bottom line is if you want to reinvent yourself, you’re looking for a change. I would love to help.

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How Long Does it Take to Reinvent Yourself?

On average, it takes about 66 days to reinvent yourself. In a fascinating 2009 study by health psychology researcher Phillippa Lally, 96 volunteers chose an eating, drinking, or activity behavior (like drinking a bottle of water with lunch or running 15 minutes before dinner) to change for the following 12 weeks.

Every day, these volunteers reported if they performed the behavior and how automatic it felt doing so. The results found that on average, it takes 66 days before a behavior becomes automatic.

Now this doesn’t mean total reinvention will happen in 66 days. To drastically alter your circumstances/wealth/traits can take many more months or even years.

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10 Tips to Reinvent Yourself

Are you on a fast track to reinvent yourself?

Try these unique tips—I hope they can help you as much as they helped me.

Create Your Alter Ego

Studies show that trying to picture yourself in the future is difficult. People who envision a “future self” actually start thinking of someone completely different.

The phrase “alter ego” is Latin for “Other I.” According to Roman philosopher Cicero, an alter ego is “a second self, a trusted friend.” In other words, it is someone else you can bring into your own mind and have a conversation with.

For example, if you want to cultivate compassion and kindness, you might envision Mr. Rogers as your alter ego. Or if you want to become more entrepreneurial, you might pull inspiration from successful people like Oprah or Warren Buffett.

Alter egos work because they help you dissociate from your limiting beliefs about yourself. You might be overly critical of yourself, but if you visualize yourself as someone with strong or altruistic values, like Bill Gates, it’ll be much easier to fuse your beliefs with theirs.

A great example of how alter egos are used in real life can be seen with the famous pop musician Halsey. Halsey wasn’t actually born Halsey—her real name is Ashley Nicolette Frangipane. She came up with the public name Halsey to reinvent herself and become someone completely different.

“I had to become somebody completely different. At the time, I felt that Ashley didn’t deserve to be famous and successful because she wasn’t that special, but if I made Halsey, maybe she could be.”

Halsey

Which muscle do you want to flex most? Is there a skill or trait you want to cultivate?

Find your alter ego character by doing some quick brainstorming:

  • Did you have any childhood idols?
  • Are there any people—real or fictional—who have qualities you admire?
  • If you can’t think of anyone, is there someone you can “make up” to embody your values?

Once you have your alter ego, go more in depth. Analyze your chosen person:

  • What do they do?
  • Who are the people they spend time with?
  • What does their daily routine look like?
  • What habits do they practice?
  • What does their life look like?
  • What values do you share?
  • What values would you like to share?

Visualize yourself being your alter ego during meditation, conjure up your alter ego during times of stress or challenge, and “consult” your alter ego when facing difficult decisions in your life. You can even add a picture of them to your screensaver, wear a clothing item that reminds you of them, or wear a special shirt to “activate” your alter ego.

Over time, you might slowly “become” your alter ego! Your alter ego is incredibly powerful—use this technique to your advantage.

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Use Your Alter Ego’s Hobby

Sometimes it’s hard to reinvent yourself if you feel stuck. The only way to get unstuck is to shake up your passions, your thoughts, and how you spend your time. 

Remember the role models and alter egos you outlined in the last step? Great, now research what their hobbies are.

  • What does your role model read?
  • What are your role model’s hobbies?
  • How does your role model spend their free time?

Now here’s the key: Don’t pick the ones you already do. Pick the ones that you have never tried. 

“There’s only one rule of show business or writing. And that’s don’t be boring.” —Joyce Carol Oates

For example, one of my role models is the super talented writer Joyce Carol Oates. Oates says that she hikes a big hill near her house. When she is stuck or has writer’s block, she hikes that big hill. She says almost every time, she has a great idea once she reaches the top.

I loved this idea, so I found the biggest hill near my house, and when I am stuck, I hike it. It’s a rough one, but it totally works. And I think it works because Joyce Carol Oates told me it would!

Need some more ideas to spice up your life? Turn off Netflix and start creating a vision board, find your inner fashionista, go geocaching, or follow other tips in this mega article: 40 Productive (And Fun) Things to Do When You’re Bored.

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Your Key Goals

You’ve got the fuel to become the best version of yourself. Now you’ve got to aim at your top goals.

If you haven’t already, write down a list of your top 20 goals, and then focus just on your top 3 to 5. Why only 3 to 5? I find if people focus on too many, they tend to not accomplish anything—so it’s better to be more focused on a few goals than many.

These 3–5 goals are your Key Goals—goals that you MUST complete, no matter what.

If you’re having trouble finding your goals, I’ve got you covered. Learn how to accomplish your goals (using science!) below:

Write these goals down, stick them on your mirror, and recite them before you go to bed every single day.

Now, once you have your top goals, set yourself up for success by setting up your life system.

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Sit in Solitude

If you’re prone to feeling lonely, then you probably should skip this step.

However, if you’re OK being alone, science shows there are a host of benefits that solitude can bring.

But first, what’s the difference between being alone and being in solitude? When you’re alone, usually there’s that negative connotation of feeling sad and unwanted.

We want to avoid this! Solitude, on the other hand, is the positive feeling of knowing you’re OK being alone.

Studies show that being in solitude can help increase your feelings of freedom, creativity, intimacy, and spirituality. I find that just ten minutes in solitude (away from the hubby, computer, and noisy neighbors) can really help me go inward.

During your time of solitude, I want you to focus on these questions:

  • Why do I want to reinvent myself?
  • What habits and choices would I have to say yes to?
  • What habits and choices would I have to say no to?
  • Will I stay the course even when it gets rough?

When you sit in solitude, you’ll be amazed at how much clearer your brain feels. Try going for longer periods of solitude to clear your mind even more and get away from the outside clutter.

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Reinvent Yourself Professionally

Do you feel one of the following:

  • not challenged enough in your career
  • underpaid, overworked, or underappreciated
  • passionless in your work

Then perhaps it’s time for a change. Whether you’re 30, 40, or 50, a midlife career change is never out of the question. In fact, the average age someone switches careers is 39, according to a survey by Indeed.

And even if you’re not in your later years yet, a job change can help propel you to where you want to be by the time you get there.

  • First, get your brain juices flowing. If you haven’t decided on your career switch already, read all about the 10 happiest jobs to get some inspiration.
  • Second, prepare your resume. Build a rock-solid, recession-proof resume that’ll impress even the pickiest job recruiters.
  • Third, set up your LinkedIn profile. Avoid buzzwords, post thematic updates, optimize your audience, and more with these lovely LinkedIn tips.
  • Fourth, brush up on yourself. Craft your body language so it radiates professionalism, ask the best standout interview questions, and know what to say when you inevitably get asked, “What do you do?”
  • Fifth, start networking. Reach out through real-life networking events or go online to network and increase your career-changing odds.

The bottom line is, I know a career change can be scary. But there are also massive opportunities awaiting if you can get over your fear!

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Dress For Success

The clothes you wear can greatly affect your success. Are you wearing clothes that reflect success and professionalism?

In a fascinating 2014 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers studied male subjects who wore either a suit, sweats, or their normal outfit and then began a negotiation with a partner.

The results? Those who dressed professionally made more profitable deals, and those who dressed down had lower testosterone levels!

Shocking, right? How you dress can literally change how you feel.

Dress like the person you want to become.

Pro Tip: Colors can also change the way you feel. For example, did you know combat fighters in the 2004 Olympics who wore red won more than fighters who wore blue? Learn more about the psychology of color: Color Psychology: What Colors Should You Wear and Why.

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Social Survival Skills

Are you stuck doing routine things you absolutely dread?

  • picking up the kids from school
  • staying at home and not being able to travel
  • being forced to work on a project nobody wants to do

You need to develop some survival skills. Developing survival skills means taking whatever you have and changing it to your advantage. Use your routine activities to create opportunity:

  • You HAVE to pick up the kids from school? —> Use this opportunity to befriend some of the parents. —> Perhaps the parents’ kids start befriending YOUR kids. —> This could possibly lead to forming new fun clubs both the parents and kids could attend!
  • You HAVE to stay at home without traveling? —> Start an online side hustle. —> Generate passive income. —> Use that money to build a retirement fund!
  • You HAVE to work on an undesirable project? —> Find out the skills required to master the project. —> Master those skills better than anyone else on your team. —> Become an expert and be indispensable!

Do you get the idea?

Reinvention doesn’t only come from making drastic, fly-to-the-other-side-of-the-world changes (although it can definitely happen!).

No matter your circumstances or what you’re doing, you can create great change from the opportunities you’re given.

Here’s my action step for you: Find something you dread or feel neutral about. What can you do to change the circumstances? Are there parts of your daily activities that you can take advantage of? Change one thing about your routine, and over time you’ll find great change.

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Get Goal Organized

A goal system is a planner, journal, or log that keeps track of your goals. It includes spaces for actionable steps, whether you’ve achieved these steps, and reflection.

Now, organizing your goals isn’t just important—it’s absolutely ESSENTIAL.

Why?

Goal systems are the compass of your life.

Here’s an analogy to help explain:

Imagine you’re the captain of a ship. Your goal is to get to the next island, and your Life System is the compass to help get you there. You’ll face thunderstorms, big waves, and other hardships along the way, but eventually, you’ll get there since you’ll always know which direction you’re going. Now imagine that same scenario but without a compass. You’d be lost—even if you’re 1 degree off from your goal, you’d miss getting to the island completely.

Illustrated version of the island analogy

To set up a Goal System, you can get creative with your own notebook or use a detailed planner and task manager like Notion, Evernote, or Todoist.

Goal Systems can be complex, or they can be simple. If you’re starting out, I recommend setting up the basics (and adding onto it later!).

Here’s how to get started using Notion:

  1. Head on over to Notion and create an account (it’s free).
  2. Start with a template (you can Google “Notion life template” or “Notion goal template”—I recommend this one).
  3. Click on the Duplicate button on the top right to add it to your Notion dashboard.
Notion Dashboard
  1. Begin filling it out! Add your life goals, set up your monthly goals, and add daily tasks to the weekly planner to help accomplish your goals.
Example of a Notion goal setting template

(If this sounds too tech-heavy, I recommend sticking to a simple bullet journal).

Once you’ve got your Goal System set up, you’re well on your way to reinventing yourself. Stick with your Goal System and keep track of your actionable tasks—remember, every action is one step closer to achieving your Key Goals.

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We’re Never Fully Baked

Todd mentioned this phrase that I absolutely love: We never come out fully baked. The baking process is never done.

Whatever stage of reinvention you’re in, I want you to remember that life is all about constantly reinventing yourself. There will never be an end to obstacles and life’s pressures. However, the great thing is that the more you endure, the greater the heat you’ll be able to endure in the future.

Think to yourself: “How can I get closer to the heat?” Try running toward the obstacles and building your resilience. You can build your resilience up by taking on different challenges:

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The Power of Friendships

So, you’ve decided to reinvent yourself and take action on some of the tips above. Great!

However, a new study by University of Georgia researchers found that people who reinvent themselves often become unhappy.

Wait, really? Yes! That’s because when people reinvent themselves, they tend to lose their existing friendships as they take on a new identity or lose their old hobbies. This is especially true in American culture, where friendships may come and go easier than in other cultures.

However, there is a silver lining. If you’re able to maintain your friends or even make new ones, your chances of being happy are much higher! 

As a part of your reinvention plan, think about the people you spend time with. Ask yourself:

  • Do the people I spend time with support me?
  • Do the people I spend time with challenge me?
  • Do the people I spend time with help me get unstuck or feel more stuck?

Make sure you are spending time with people who support your reinvention. Read on to find out my top ways to keep relationships and form new ones:

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best selling author & founder at Science of People. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People has been translated into more than 16 languages. As a recovering awkward person, Vanessa helps millions find their inner charisma. She regularly leads innovative corporate workshops and helps thousands of individual professionals in her online program People School. Vanessa works with entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and trillion dollar companies; and has been featured on CNN, BBC, CBS, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, the Today Show and many more.

2 replies on “10 Steps to Reinvent Yourself and Realize Your Potential”

  1. Max DuBowy

    This was a fantastic interview. I love the concept of challenging and ultimately changing my identity in order for reinvention to occur. Love Vanessa and love TODD!!!

  2. Deiby

    I was looking for something like alter ego, but i didnt know it existed and you brought me to the thing i was looking for. Thank so much

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