My main motivation for the first 24 years of my life was always to prove to others they were wrong for doubting me. For 24 years I didn’t have supporters around me, everyone told me that I wasn’t going to make it. To be honest I could hardly believe that my own power could create the craziest transformation in my life. But somehow the sentence “this is impossible” became my biggest motivator. Every time I heard it I knew I had to prove them wrong. Then 3 years ago everything changed. Success provided me all the support I have ever wanted, all the impossibles became reality, and suddenly I had nothing to motivate me anymore.
I got depressed.
I couldn’t get out of bed. Sometimes for weeks…
I couldn’t find a new motivation.
Sleeping became my drug of choice.
If I wasn’t in the hospital because I wasn’t eating enough, or because my immune system collapsed, I would be sleeping in my Budapest apartment, trying to avoid living my life. To be honest, back then it felt better than living a life that I had never wanted: hundreds of thousands of followers, success, and “overnight” fame. Everything was too much, too big and too fast. Seeing a billboard with my 3 meter-high face on it was one of the scariest moments of my life. It suddenly felt like I was living someone else’s life. I knew that one day I would have to find a new motivator, this time a positive one.
But how? I had no idea what to do, or where to start. After 8 years of active blogging, I had to push the reset button. I took some time off to reflect on what went wrong. Then I did what I normally do: I interviewed a bunch of people I admire and respect to figure out if I was the only one facing this problem. Turns out many of these people had similar stories. A few weeks later I found myself excited again, writing a new book on my research and personal experiences on this topic. That’s how I found Dorie Clark’s book Reinventing You, which I read in a matter of hours. I knew I had to find Dorie, and have a serious conversation about personal reinvention and finding inspiration.
Dorie was refreshingly blunt about the subject. “Even if we become successful it gets boring after a while, when nothing challenges us, what’s the next thing?” And she went on “even if there are still challenges, when someone is focused on a niche that they aren’t truly passionate about, success may drive them to pursue new interests.” Personally I have found many people reaching the stage when they really have no choice but to reinvent themselves.
“What most people don’t see is that maybe it is the third or fourth attempt at reinvention that works out for others. It’s not that they are so brilliant at making choices and you aren’t. It’s that they have experimented with different things, and they tried more things.” That’s why it’s always good to talk to people who you look up to. Asking questions always a good way to see things behind the scenes.
And that’s exactly how Dorie goes on “Always ask questions!” If you have no access to people, you can always read memoirs. “Start reading memoirs, it’s a huge genre, it gives you honest insights into different professions. For example, it might sound good to be a chef, but if you’re reading a memoir you will see that a chef has to stand for over 14 hours a day. You have to answer this question honestly: can you live with that?”
1st Rule: “I think people are usually not as lost as they think they are.”
We all have preferences for certain professions. You might not know what you want to do, but you definitely know what you don’t want to do. If you’re able to narrow it down, it makes your job easier. You’re probably thinking this will be a long list. Don’t worry! I had the same issue, then I tried something I called ‘test month.’ You can always dedicate a month to doing something that excites you. No promises, just testing if you are really into that topic. If you are, you can go on, if not, you can always switch. For me that works all the time.
In my case it got a bit scary when I started to look for a position based on my interests and realized there was nothing quite like it in the marketplace! But don’t worry too much about that. As Dorie said, “You might not necessarily know the job title, or the company. But it’s already a victory that you know what you’re interested in.”
I recently did an exercise where you pick like a hundred position descriptions, and you create a non-existing job you would apply for. I needed to pull features of many different positions and mix them into one, but now I know 100% what I want to do. Trust me, companies appreciate if you know what you want to do even if the position is going to be something you invent. But if you still have no idea, try this: “walk into a book store and pick out one book you are interested in, either an old favorite or one that you think you would like. This is a way getting in touch with your desires.”
But what if you have nobody around you who has the same interests you have? How can you stay motivated? How can you learn? “Well, there’s a few things you can do,” says Dorie. “You don’t have to have personal access to a mentor. Thanks to social media, if that person is alive, you can go on Youtube! They probably have speeches, podcasts. Listen to all of those, and you can immerse yourself in all of their thinking. You can stalk your mentors online.” Many successful people I know do this! If you don’t have the access, find the access!
Last year I did an interview with Tony Conrad, CEO and founder of about.me. At that time he said, “When entrepreneurs come up to me saying, ‘for you it’s easy, but we don’t have access to these big names!’ That’s true, but you have access to someone.” This is the attitude you need! Dorie suggests the same:
“You aren’t going to get Richard Branson on the phone. If you’re interested in people who are not celebrities, they are pretty accessible. I had a coaching client that had a blog. I urged him to make a list of people he admires and reach out to them to do an interview. He said they would never say yes, but 4 out of 5 agreed to do the interview.” That’s pretty much my experience too! Since April I have been conducting many interviews, and only people/companies I was not even that interested in said no! Everyone who I wanted to learn from said yes!
“I advise a lot of people, a really good thing to do is to start out interviewing people you respect… As you get comfortable, you build up your confidence. Once I interviewed a hundred people, I had a better understanding of what people were saying, and I have the perspective.” Interviewing more people helps you learn about the industry and build up your confidence. Here’s the thing: it’s a process, you have to earn it! There will always be someone who knows more than you. Don’t fear them, learn from them!
And even though it can be scary to take the first step, Dorie says, “if you feel that you could do better than others, then guess what, you probably can! If that person can throw out rubbish then it’s just going to be easier for you to stand out!”
What’s next? Faking something until you become it! “There must be an ideal self you are striving toward. It’s a motivating tool that you are able to say that this is who I want to be in this world. We are never a finished product. We are working through self-actualization.” – This process totally recreates you. You might think that you already know yourself. But it’s a huge lie! You have many experiences, you have many interests, and if you are not happy in your current life, it’s time to change. Of course, as Dorie says there’s no such thing as “overcoming your previous life”. She says, “When you say, ‘I am a completely new person,’ that’s not really accurate. Because the truth is, you are the sum total of your experiences, all of your experiences that have been built on each other. It’s not about becoming someone totally new; it’s about adding new elements and adjusting. You need to integrate the parts of your past.”
Can you overcome your past? Or will you have a gap in your resume, just because you don’t want to talk about something from your past? “If something bad happened to you, the truth is you aren’t going to be any more successful by pretending it never happened. You have to show how that integrated,” says Dorie. And the truth is, people change. Just because you may be mentally or financially broke, that doesn’t mean that you can’t change your life.