Constantly Reinventing Yourself Is an Underrated Way to Live
Three ways to push the boundaries of who you can be
Every two years, I fall flat on my face — on purpose.
I’ll work my way to getting fired from a job or even quit just for the hell of it.
I’ll end a romantic relationship when things probably could have been repaired.
I’ll change the way I earn money from various side hustles. I’ll go from suit jackets to hoodies to see if I feel any different.
None of the changes are necessary, or even the “best” decisions per se, but each change keeps me from getting bored and helps me live a different way.
Until recently, I never dissected the reason why I reinvent myself on a regular basis.
Then I came across a quote from the writer Derek Sivers: “The way to live is to regularly reinvent yourself.”
Of course, there can be value in sticking with something that’s hard or no longer exciting, but we tend to focus too much on remaining true to one lifelong self.
Sivers argues that we should change our preferences, opinions, and usual responses. He writes on his website, “I usually try the opposite
of whatever I did before.”
As he explains, doing what you’ve always done is bad for your brain.
Personal reinvention is necessary to stay interesting to yourself.
Because if you’re bored of who you are, then you’re unlikely to inspire positivity in others.
Here are a few ways to reinvent yourself right now:
Change jobs for the hell of it
Jobs get boring.
It’s why there are so many people using LinkedIn to switch jobs all the time.
An existing employer has already got used to you being part of the furniture, so they hedge their bets that you won’t leave.
They know that new experiences are challenging and figure you won’t want to take the risk.
New companies, on the other hand, feel lucky to have you join and there’s greater potential for you to create the position you envision.
Change where you live
When you change your city, all of your familiar surroundings disappear.
You have to find new coffee shops, take different roads, talk to new neighbors, meet new dogs, walk-in different parks.
A town can feel like a prison if you overstay your welcome.
It’s nice to live in different places and experience new cultures.
With work from home being the new norm, you no longer have to be tied to an inner-city suburb so you can be close to a physical office where you clock in and clock out each day.
Offices are part of the industrial age.
We’re in a new era.
Ditch your current habits
Sticking with habits is great — until you find better ones.
When I get bored with life, I rewrite my habits in a notepad file titled “ideal day.”
To help me return to the present, I used to meditate and go to the gym.
Now I walk and read books.
Throw away your habits like you’d annual clean.
Return to the habits you miss.
Publish entirely different content on social media
Social media is self-expression.
It helps you arrange your thinking if nothing else.
As you journey through life there are opportunities to tweak what you do online.
I started solely sharing ideas about self-improvement.
Later I added lessons from various side hustles.
At one point, I realized the time I spent working for a bank held a lot of experience people wanted to know about.
I then used social media to make a complex topic like finance simple for average people who didn’t study economics at Harvard.
Push the boundaries of topics you share online.
As you create content about a new topic, you grow from the learnings.
What It Means To Be Gentle With Yourself
“Be kind to yourself” is a cliché, but there are real habits for doing it that can move you forward
I was dropping my best pal home after work, sitting outside her house in the car, when I finally lost control and broke down.
I couldn’t hide the tears anymore as they stung my eyes and rolled down my face.
I hadn’t slept in days; I was utterly exhausted and felt physically sick.
I hated myself for not being able to do the job they’d given me to do.
Choking back the tears and sobbing, I told my pal about the informal warning I’d just received from my boss.
Hardly the behavior you’d expect of a senior manager in a global telecommunications corporation but, at that moment, I had ceased to be that person.
Though I didn’t know it then, I’d never be that person again.
I would describe the four months which followed as ‘the crisis stage.’
At that time, I was barely able to do anything for myself and needed the constant help of a network of people around me.
I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and was prescribed medication to help with this.
I had signed off work sick and eventually, my position became redundant.
That was over 18 months ago and, since then, I’ve managed to like myself enough to reinvent myself. Though I still feel as if I’m only at the start of a long journey, I’ve started to change.
That senior manager in the corporate world who hated himself has started to emerge as a writer who at least understands himself.
This is the story of the steps I happened upon which helped me along the way.
Live in the Moment
Much of my time had been spent in reflection trying to learn lessons from my past.
But all I was doing was reliving so much guilt from the things I’d got wrong.
When I tried to look forward and plan, fear tended to pin me down.
My critical self constantly reminded me that I was neither capable nor worthy of anything too successful.
As much the lesser of the evils as anything else, I started to realize that there was not too much to hate about myself if I simply contemplated the person I was in the present.
That was the first spark of light in the darkness.
I’ll discuss the counseling I received and how it helped me break free from the shackles of the past and the future later in this post.
For now, however, I just want to share a powerful technique I learned that enabled me to bring myself into the present moment.
I learned a technique called grounding.
I found this to be a good technique to bring me out of times when I was either feeling excessively guilty about things I’d done or fearful of things that might come up.
The technique involves thinking of or even saying out loud what your senses are feeling at any given moment.
“I can see the computer screen in front of me.
I can feel the sway of my swivel chair.
I can hear the click of the letters on my keyboard….”
I remember receiving an angry email from a neighbor.
Before I knew it, my head was in court defending all kinds of charges.
My heart rate was up; my breathing shallow, and I found it hard to concentrate on anything other than trying to defend myself.
This was a great example of a time where using the technique of grounding brought me right back to the safety of my living room.
Of course, I realize it’s never as easy as just deciding you need to live in the present.
Medical conditions such as addictions or psychological conditions such as PTSD can make that simply impossible without professional help.
What I do know, however, is that living in the present became my first step in achieving some self-compassion.
You Are Enough
I started to read to help me write.
It was while working through the logic of Ant Middleton’s book “The Fear Bubble: Harness Fear and Live Without
Limit” that I came across another heartbreaking moment of self-awareness: I realized just how much self-hate I was nurturing.
In “The Fear Bubble,” Ant describes the notion of being stuck in a corridor, trapped by our fear and surrounded by doors that could take us off in a different direction.
In true SAS style, we are encouraged to kick these doors in and set off on the new life waiting behind them.
I realized that I’d been kicking those doors in for years.
Every time I did, I saw a sad, tearful reflection of myself on the other side.
I’d slam the door in my face and storm off down the corridor looking for something better.
It broke my heart when I realized that every time I’d seen myself in the past 30 years, I’d dismissed what I’d seen as not good enough.
No wonder that guy was so tearful!
Conjuring that image finally helped me to start to see something very important.
There is no ‘better’ me and equally, there’s no need for one.
I don’t need to be richer, lighter, more successful, or better dressed.
I need to work with the forgetful, scruffy disorganized guy reflected behind those doors because that is the same guy with the imagination, the dream, and the soul to write.
Before I could fully accept the bad and the good in myself, however, I personally required some counseling.
My counselor helped me to understand and forgive myself for the mistakes of my past.
This helped to reduce the feelings of guilt and to break the habit of pulling them into my current life.
For example, she pointed out that, like chameleons changing their color to blend in with their surroundings, we all tend to adapt our behavior to the situation we are in.
The person I am down at the pub with my mates is not the same person I am when I’m sitting at home with my daughters.
As a soldier, I had been put in a place where others wanted to kill me, and I was trained and equipped to kill them if necessary.
I’d hated the person I’d become in that environment.
It almost destroyed me.
It helped when I realized that this was a person I’d been to survive in that environment and not the complete picture of who I am.
It was time to stop beating myself up for the bad habits that never seemed to change and accept that I would never be perfect.
So what if I slept late in the mornings for example?
It wasn’t actually laziness; it was because I also stayed up late at night.
As a writer, I could just go with that.
As long as I put in the hours, it didn’t matter so much when the working day started and when it ended.
Life became so much brighter when I realized I had to work with the bad as well as the good.
All of me was all I had and that was more than enough.
Find the Treasure Within
Becoming aware that I needed to forgive myself for my bad traits opened my mind to consider what was good about myself.
During one of our sessions, my counselor pointed out that I seemed to light up when I talked about my daughters.
That observation really made my day.
Even though my daughters are all adults themselves now, I like to think that I’m still able to help out with a lot of the problems they face in life.
It’s been said that you never stop being a parent no matter how old your children get.
I completely agree with that.
More than just helping the girls, I love to nurture the better parts of their nature.
Not just help them with life’s problems — but to inspire them.
Get them fired up.
As I’ve always done since they were babies, I love to make them laugh.
Both mine and my best pal’s family loved to hear our stories when we came back from our business trips.
I’d accidentally sprayed her in the eye with suntan cream on one of our trips.
On another, I’d thrown her into a ditch to ‘save’ her from a cow I was scared of.
But, in balance, we’d often cried with laughter at the various adventures we encountered when we traveled.
I realized that everyone I love always seems to be smiling when I’m around.
Not just smiles that I ‘give’ them but smiles and laughter that we share.
This is a huge part of who I am and what I have to offer the world.
To help people relate, feel comfortable instead of awkward, maybe even inspired, and always, smile.
Becoming a writer became the opportunity to share all of these things. Just like that, I realized I had a mission. I’d found the best of me and wanted to share that with the world.
Of course, we’re not all comedians or coaches.
But whether it’s practical skills, common sense, nurturing, or scientific genius, acknowledging the best bits about yourself is a very empowering thing to do.
I am sure there are many ways to do this.
As a first step, however, you should definitely open your mind to contemplate your positive side.
Through counseling, I was also encouraged to recognize the voice of my critical self and to argue with it.
I had to challenge those limiting beliefs and rationalize what I wanted to do.
I love my work as a writer.
In writing, I can express my deepest self and do something I’ve always been drawn to and always wanted to do.
My critical self would look at the lack of pay.
Each rejection note resounded around my mind to further indicate that I wasn’t good enough to do this.
I had to force myself to acknowledge the successes.
The feedback from some of the readers and the positive comments from editors. I had to make the inner argument that these things, coupled with my enjoyment and aptitude for writing outweighed the
Rejection notes, after all, are as much a part of a writer's life as paycheques.
So those are the three big steps I have taken to get back to a place where I can believe in myself and even enjoy the world around me.
Live in the moment, realize that you are more than good enough, warts and all, and get to know the treasure that is within you that you can share with the
For sure these are big steps, and possibly some of the hardest ones you may ever have to take.
They may not be for everyone.
There are countless ways to get back up on your feet when you’ve been knocked down.
By taking these, however, I came to know who I am, then to love, and finally to be that person.
We all know that people who have higher levels of self-worth tend to be happier. They tend to assert themselves more confidently, and they feel more comfortable in their own skin.
However, you may not have given much thought to the connection between self-worth and being yourself.
If you're not confident about who you are, you put a lot of energy into trying to project an image.
Doing this will hinder you from trying to get to know yourself.
But what should you do if you have low self-worth?
How can you improve this, and use your newfound acceptance of yourself to foster personal development?
This article on self-worth and authenticity will help you work on valuing yourself more appropriately.
We'll consider key signs that your self-worth is currently low and work our way through a range of powerful changes you can make in order to enhance your self-worth.
How Do You Define Self Worth?
First, what exactly is self-worth?
You can think of it as feeling and believing that you deserve to be treated compassionately and respectfully.
If you have healthy levels of self-worth, you're able to see yourself as a good person.
You should know that your value doesn't just revolve around what you can do for other people and showing up for them the way you think they want you to show up.
Self-worth is intimately connected with self-valuing behaviors.
This means holding healthy boundaries with others, expecting reciprocity in relationships, and knowing what you need to put yourself first.
However, many of us go through painful and belittling experiences that make it hard for us to have robust self-worth.
Signs You’re Experiencing Low Self-Worth
Perhaps you suspect that your self-worth isn't all that it could be, and you've started to wonder what kind of impact that might be having on your mental health
and your self-knowledge.
What kinds of thoughts, feelings, and actions should you look out for in order to measure low self-worth?
While this sort of difficulty looks subtly different for everyone, there are certain key signs that most people exhibit.
If you frequently notice one or more of the following signs, there's a good chance that you have low self-worth and could benefit from changing the way you relate to yourself.
Changing Yourself For Others
If you have low self-worth,
you'll think that acceptance is conditional.
In other words, you'll believe that you have to act and be a certain way to receive love and respect.
Consequently, you'll find yourself changing all the time to fit in with others, meet their needs, or be who you imagine they want you to be.
You should know you shouldn't have to change yourself for others.
Surround yourself with people with who you feel comfortable being your authentic self and as time progresses, it will become easier being yourself with others.
Seeking Approval From Others
Relatedly, low self-worth leads to seeking reassurance and love, even if it's for an artificial self that is projected in order to gain approval.
You might need friends, family, and partners to repeatedly affirm their attachment.
Affirmation is a love language however it shouldn't be used to constantly seek a boost of self-esteem.
You may also need others to validate your decisions before you feel confident in making them.
Not Communicating Your Needs
think you aren't deserving of consistent love and respect, you'll likely be anxious about telling people what you really want and need.
You can’t show vulnerability or be your authentic self. After all, if you do that, perhaps they'll reject you.
People with low self-worth typically think it is safer to stay quiet, rather than risk annoying someone or putting them off.
Allowing Others To Take Advantage Of You
Perhaps you let
people disrespect you because you suspect they're right to view you as a disposal or to characterize you in a negative light.
Or you just constantly fall into a pattern of people taking advantage of you but simply not acknowledging it.
You may even be grateful that these people are still in your life at all, even though they don't treat you with kindness.
Fundamentally, if you lack self-worth
you probably don't think you deserve love or even know how to love yourself.
You might think of all kinds of different reasons why this is the case, often comparing yourself to others and noticing ways in which you believe you come up short.
Self-love is a foundation that will reflect positively in all areas of your life.
No Healthy Boundaries
It's hard to set firm
rules with people when you don't really think you deserve to be treated well.
As such, if you have low self-worth you probably let others set all the terms and conditions for your interactions, even if these seem inconsistent or feel bad.
Setting healthy boundaries is important and will set the tone of your interaction with others. Remember, respecting yourself will help others respect you too.
Almost everyone with low
self-worth also lacks self-belief.
You probably find it difficult to trust that you can succeed, that you are talented or that you can change.
You simply just don't believe in yourself.
Instead, you stay in your comfort zone, missing many opportunities for development and growth.
Being Afraid And Not Being Yourself
Finally, one way you might describe
feelings of low self-worth is by saying “I never act like myself.”
If you're almost certain that the real, authentic you will be ridiculed or rejected, you'll live in fear of anyone discovering your true self.
In time, this can lead you to lose touch with that true self altogether and you might end up feeling unfulfilled.
Being your authentic self will bring people into your life that will love and appreciate you for who you are.
How To Know Your Self-Worth
Armed with a clear idea of what low self-worth looks like, let's now turn to how you can gradually strengthen and enhance your self-worth.
While this kind of transformation doesn't happen overnight, there are changes you can start making today that can almost immediately transform your thoughts and feelings.
And as your self-worth grows, so too will your sense of self – your understanding of who you are, what you really want, and what you're capable of achieving.
To have self-worth, you need to
have a solid sense of who you are, and then work to have a positive attitude towards that person.
There are dozens of things you can do to facilitate the relevant sort of self-awareness here.
One of the most effective ways is learning how to journal and make it a daily habit.
Write a page and honestly reflecting on your experiences and on how you feel.
This helps you develop the habit of checking in with yourself without judgment, and without focusing on pleasing others.
An exercise you can do is simply check in with yourself every couple of hours.
Challenge yourself to come up with three words to describe how you are.
Again, this just gets you into the habit of honestly looking at what's going on inside you, without an agenda.
In addition, note that forgiveness is another crucial component of self-awareness.
It's healthy to recognize our mistakes, but allow yourself to move on rather than perpetually beating yourself up about them.
Recognize that you've understood what you did, why you did it, and how to avoid repeating the same mistake. Then grant yourself the same forgiveness and clean slate that you would give someone you
While self-awareness focuses on building
up an understanding of who you are, self-love is all about having a genuinely positive attitude toward that person.
What do you like about yourself?
While it may not come naturally to think about this, consider the question genuinely and try to come up with at least ten things.
They don't need to be big – start with anything at all that makes you feel proud, then go from there.
Self-love also involves doing things for yourself just because they bring you joy.
Whether you set aside a few hours, a day, or a weekend a month for this, try to spend some focused time indulging yourself in this way.
Again, take the emphasis away from pleasing others, from meeting their needs, and creating a certain impression.
Instead, ask yourself: what do I want?
What would make me happy right now?
It doesn't need to be productive – it just needs to make you feel good.
Further, affirmations are an excellent technique for fostering self-love.
Think of and build a few positive affirmations that you can repeat in the mirror each day.
For example, you might say something like “I am strong, creative, and loyal – I love and value myself.”
Affirmations can feel awkward or artificial at first, but you'll soon start to feel their impact.
Self-acceptance is subtly
different from self-awareness and self-love.
One way of thinking about it is self-acceptance is about having a positive and loving attitude toward even the difficult parts of yourself.
So, the things you view as idiosyncrasies, as abnormalities, or maybe even as flaws.
Try to embrace these, acknowledging that everyone is imperfect.
Even the people you perceive as role models have weak spots, hangups, and things that trip them up.
Try to remember this when you feel under pressure to be unrealistically exemplary.
Once again, daily positive affirmations can help you to develop this aspect of self-worth.
Repeat Phrases like “I don't need to be perfect in order to be good enough”.
This can assist you in shifting your perspective when you start to demand the impossible from yourself.
In practice, self-acceptance also involves letting other people see the unusual parts of you.
Refrain from only showing the parts of yourself you think would be widely accepted or praised.
To build self-acceptance in your friendships and romantic relationships, challenge yourself to be more real with people – to be yourself, not a sanitized and acceptable caricature.
You'll likely notice that this in fact deepens your connection with others.
Mindful self-compassion is a term that originates in Buddhist practice and philosophy, and it emphasizes treating yourself with
In short, you should aim to support yourself in the way that you would support someone you care for.
Listen to yourself, know when you need a break, and talk to yourself in a careful, gentle way.
It can be difficult to do this if you've experienced a childhood in which people talked down to you or criticized you.
With time and effort, you can develop a nurturing inner voice.
Practicing mindfulness exercises is effective in nurturing self-compassion. Try to take at least
5-10 minutes of the day to work on meditations of your choosing.
There are special “loving-kindness” meditations that can be particularly helpful here.
To do a basic version of this meditation, start by getting comfortable and spending several minutes focusing on deep, slow breathing.
Next, recite the following to yourself: “May I be at ease, may I be happy, may I be at peace.”
Feel free to adapt the words to suit you.
In addition, monitor how you talk to yourself.
For example, try writing down all the things your inner critic says over a period of two days, then write down counter-statements that challenge those harsh words. In time, this habit can defuse
old feelings of self-loathing and rob your inner critic of its power.
Finally, self-respect revolves around believing that you are deserving of respect – from others and yourself.
This means believing you should be treated as a being with value and dignity.
Never be treated as a means to an end or as someone who exists to please others.
You might have been raised to derive pleasure and satisfaction from how “useful” or “helpful” you are.
This can be very tough to shake the idea that you exist to make life better for others.
You are a person who deserves happiness and fulfillment, and the more you recognize this the more you'll develop self-respect.
Focus on how you interact with other people and what kinds of expectations you encourage.
To explore this topic in more depth, let's now turn to the issue of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries with people in your life.
Set Healthy Boundaries In Relationships
In the simplest terms,
personal boundaries are rules that you have in place to make sure that you have healthy, fulfilling, and mutually respectful relationships with others.
While it's certainly good to offer empathy, compassion, and emotional intimacy to those we care about, there are people who will seek to take advantage of this generosity (sometimes not even at a
As such, it's important to have a clear sense of what you will and won't accept.
Here are four key things worth considering if you want to set boundaries as part of developing greater
Everyone has different boundaries, and
there's no one set of rules that will suit everyone.
Limits provide a helpful illustration here – we all have different limits depending on our values and morals.
Figuring out your limits is about reflecting on what you are comfortable with, and how you want to be treated.
Generally, people subscribe to an idea about reciprocity here – we should treat others as we want to be treated.
So, one useful question to ask is “Would I think it's okay to do this to someone else?”
To make the idea of limits a little more concrete, let's consider a few examples.
You may have limits to how much time you're willing to give certain people, and this may vary by individual.
The time you'll happily give to your partner will not be the same as you would give to an acquaintance.
You will likely also have limits about how much (if any) of your money or material possessions to lend others.
Perhaps how much lateness you'll accept at an agreed meeting, and how quickly you expect to hear back from someone when you send them an important message.
Knowing these sorts of limits is the first step to setting healthy boundaries with others.
It's important to actually assert your
needs and preferences when it comes to holding boundaries with others.
Some of your limits will be common sense and a matter of basic respect.
Others will relate to highly personal preferences that others shouldn't be expected to intuit.
As such, you need to think about communicating your boundaries. After all, research shows that many boundary violations actually come from misunderstandings (rather than from selfishness or
To communicate your boundaries, try to be as clear and specific as possible.
Don't passive-aggressively imply what you want – state it plainly.
For example, in contrast, “It sure would be nice if I didn't have to do everything by myself” (passive-aggressive) with “If you put your dirty laundry in the basket, I'll be happy to do the
In addition, stick to “I” statements.
This means focusing on your thoughts, feelings, and needs rather than on accusations or demands.
For example, “I would really appreciate it if we could split the childcare more evenly” is much more likely to get productive results than “You should play with the kids first thing in the
In addition, especially when dealing with loved ones, make sure that you communicate your care while holding your boundaries.
For example, “I love you and am committed to making this relationship work, but I want to talk about what counts as respectful communication” is going to land much more effectively than “I hate
the way you talk to me.”
Tune Into Your Feelings
As some of the above discussion implies,
being aware of your own feelings plays a huge role in working to improve self-worth by holding boundaries.
Before you discuss a boundary violation with someone else, make sure you properly understand your reaction.
Try to name how you feel – do you feel angry? Do you feel taken for granted, ignored, confused, or disrespected?
You may be experiencing a mix of emotions, and some of them may even seem to be in conflict.
Once you have a sense of what you're feeling, it's useful to reflect on the roots of those feelings.
Are you experiencing a negative pattern with this person, and reaching your limit?
Or are you re-experiencing old wounds, and reacting more emphatically than the situation perhaps warrants?
Try to develop your understanding of where your emotions come from, and how they relate to other experiences you have.
Be kind to yourself throughout, especially if some of your emotions are overwhelming.
Being fluent in the language of your own feelings is important.
It allows you to take huge steps forward in helping someone else understand a boundary violation.
Your feelings are also a very useful guide to how you would like to be treated instead.
This will helps you give the other person a blueprint of your needs.
While our exploration of boundaries
so far stresses the importance of being clear and respectful with the other person, it's equally important to be appropriately assertive.
If you feel like you're being taken advantage of or your limits are being ignored, you should feel free to say so in no uncertain terms.
You shouldn't have to downplay your feelings to please the other person – remember, self-respect requires owning who you are and putting your authenticity before how others want you to be.
That being said, it's not only important to avoid being passive when talking about boundaries.
It's also important to avoid being aggressive.
In other words, don't shout people down, don't talk over them, and don't bully them into doing what you want.
This sort of behavior turns you into someone who is also violating boundaries!
In a nutshell, self-worth simply requires that you be honest, firm, clear, and true to yourself when explaining your boundaries to other people.
If you find it difficult to be assertive, it might be easier to practice in writing before doing it verbally.
Consider writing your thoughts in an email, a text, or a letter.
As you get used to communicating in a transparent and self-respecting way, the relevant language will begin to come naturally.
Know Your True Self Worth To Reach Your Full Potential
So, now you know more about why self-worth is so vital, what it looks like in practice and how to cultivate it. However, you might not realize just how much-untapped potential is still hidden
You can become anything you want and have anything you desire – but to get there, you need to embrace your true worth as a person.
Today, I hope you will have another inspired day,
that you will dream boldly and dangerously,
that you will make some progress that didn’t exist before you took action,
that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change.
And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world),
that you will,
when you must,
be wise with your decisions,
and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.