Why Reintegration Works Better Than Reinvention

When I turned 60 years old, I exited my 27-year corporate airline career. I made a point of telling everyone that I was not retiring but rather that I was just taking a short pause to follow my true passion and start my own business. To be honest, I was terrified that turning 60 and being retired meant that I was going to be washed up, irrelevant, forgotten and living my next chapter of life without any real meaning or purpose. 

I convinced myself in very short order that I was totally capable of reinventing myself into an entrepreneur and that my greatest success was on the horizon. My biggest achievements were not behind me, they were directly in front of me.  And besides, I had helped dozens of people over the years to transition in their careers and transform themselves in the process. How hard could it be to transform me? I was more than ready to pivot to my second act and liberate myself from the structure and confines of working in a corporate environment.   

I had already started to think that my past was extra baggage that I had to divest myself of in order to make room for the 'new' me. I didn’t consider that my past included some very valuable life lessons and skills that I should wisely integrate into my new grand plan. It also never crossed my mind that I would encounter some very large obstacles and setbacks on my entrepreneurial journey that would depend on me tapping into my resilience and fortitude and any number of other skills that I had accumulated from living a full life. I had my rose-coloured transformation glasses on and I was full speed ahead.

I launched my image consulting business just 2 months after my 'non' retirement and I was totally enthralled with every aspect of creating my new persona and operating my new business. My mind was flooded with so many great ideas I could barely keep up with myself. I didn’t make the connection that the clients who were booking my services weren’t doing so as a result of the newly minted me, they were actually booking me as a result of the positive reputation and integrity I had taken more than 30 years to build. It wasn’t until my 2nd year in business that my euphoric state started to slowly evaporate and some real anxiety started to set in. 

For everyone on the outside looking in, it appeared like I was on fire and that I was every bit as successful as what I was projecting on my social media platforms. Despite everything that I had learned in my first 2 years, I knew there was something I was missing with my business. I had no idea it wasn't something, it was someone, and that someone was me.  I was starting to lose momentum and I was too stubborn and proud to ask for help. I felt like my jet-propelled engine was starting to flame out and that the earth below was going to swallow me up in a puff of black smoke. I couldn’t bear to think about failure because like the word retirement, failure wasn’t in my vocabulary either. 

What saved me in the end was the realization that I had put far too much emphasis and focus on reinventing myself versus reintegrating myself to my new life. I had so many skills and qualities that I had cast aside to make room for my grand reinvention fantasy. I already had everything that I needed to help me overcome any obstacle or setback, I just wasn’t using the seeds of change that were already within me. 

Today, I am successfully forging ahead with my business but I am doing so in ways that very much draw from my accumulated creativity, wisdom and life long experiences. I have realized that I don’t need to separate myself from who I used to be, but that I need to welcome and integrate my past self into my present self so that we can be a unified force on our journey into the future.

All to say, I believe that anyone can do anything at any age. It’s also not a bad thing to reinvent or transform yourself provided that you don’t abandon your core values and your authenticity. I can say the word retire now because I am no longer afraid that when the time comes for me to retire that I will be irrelevant. My life will always have meaning and purpose regardless of what I do. I am also not afraid to say the word failure because my exposure to failure is what helped me to get back up and keep on going.

If my message resonates with you and you need help to transition, transform, reinvent or reintegrate, call Jennifer Grant International.

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