Project Upgrade: 7 ways to reinvent yourself

Sometimes you just need an all-around life change. This is a change that applies to all aspects of your current situation such as your career, health, relationships, finances, etc. Like a snowball effect, one affects the other and eventually you’re looking at a whole new you.  While you’ll obviously always be YOU, I like to think of it as the NEW edition. The platinum upgraded version if you will. Literally to drive this metaphor home and because I’m a superhero fanatic, picture yourself in a workshop building a suit of armor (like Iron Man or Batman or Wonder Woman) and replacing the damaged war-torn pieces for brand new polished ones. Each damaged piece a former version of yourself, insecurity, or area of your life you’d like to improve upon and fix.

In the past year, I’ve gone through a drastic change regarding various areas of my life. I found a new job, focused on my health, took action in making my life as well as the lives of others better, explored the avenues of creativity I’d been neglecting (like writing and designing), and removed people or left negative situations where I felt like I was being brought down or judged. In short, I’ve got a whole new suit of armor. I’ve learned a lot of things and the most important is not to be fearful of change, to embrace creativity, and to work tirelessly at what you want. With that, here are 7 ways to reinvent yourself and become a brand new upgraded YOU.

Quit your job and find a better one

If you feel stifled or you’ve got a boss who doesn’t respect or appreciate your work, then go somewhere else. Whatever or whoever it may be that’s making you unhappy, leave and go somewhere where you will enjoy coming into work everyday. You’re not tied to your job and at no point are you stuck forever. You can change your situation at any time. Follow your gut when it comes to those questionable “should I leave” moments. Like the time you got kicked out of your annual review. Remember that? No? Just me? Okay great, moving on.

The best course of action for this life change is to have your options lined up prior to parting ways with your current employer. In fact, act like a super-secret undercover agent or a ninja secretly talking to recruiters and going on interviews afterhours or during your lunch break. Ask friends or co-workers for references for ‘future opportunities’ should they come up. Just don’t parade around the office telling everyone you’re looking elsewhere or your leisurely job pursuit will become a forced one really quick. For me, I quit my old job with a soul sucking micromanager to go to a new company that appreciates me, encourages me to be myself, and celebrates me for my talents and abilities. If that wasn’t enough, they are a company that’s making a difference towards the climate change crisis the world is currently dealing with. They focus on renewable energy resources (solar energy), so knowing that I’m working for a company that is making a difference in the world completely redefines how I view my job and its importance.

Pump it up

Start a new workout routine or…just start working out altogether. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re happy with the way you look physically and, more importantly, how you feel mentally. Working out is a great stress reducer. It does WONDERS for a pain in the ass stressful day.  If the stressors of the day have you up in arms, you might as well have dumbbells in your hands. You’re going to feel better once you start a routine where you’re regularly going to the gym.

If you need workout inspiration, there are a plethora of resources online for free from fitness videos, exercise tutorials, routines, supplement guides, to workout playlists available. You can find a video for every body part you want to work on. Just don’t watch the ‘how to tone your butt’ videos while you’re sitting at work. Sometimes watching a video of somebody in peak physical shape is all the motivation you need to get your arm out of the chips bag.

Furthermore, as time goes by and you see the progress you’ve made with your own two eyes, it’s going to be a very rewarding experience. If you don’t have a gym membership yet, go in and start comparing rates at local gyms. Focus on what you want and need vs what the gym is trying to sell you. Too often gyms will try to sign you up for every amenity under the sun and then you end up paying for incentives you didn’t even want in the first place. Write down what you want and be honest and realistic. For example, “I’d like to lose 5lbs within the next 2 months” vs “I need to lose 20lbs by tomorrow.”

Eat right or…better

How do you feel? Groggy? Tired? Change the way you’ve been eating and the garbage you’ve been shoveling into your mouth at 2:30am like a slumlord. Climb down from your pizza castle and have a salad. Trade in the poptarts for oatmeal. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Shop organic and start to replace the chips and dips for fruits and vegetables. Ditch the soda and pour yourself a glass of water. Honestly, smoothies are great and if you’re not drinking them you’re missing out big time. You don’t need to go nuts and dive head first into a strict no carb no calories diet (if that even exists), but instead a conscious effort to eat a little better.

Give yourself a cheat day or cheat meal here and there as a physical and mental reward for your hard work each week. It would be overwhelming to think you can’t have the foods you love so don’t eliminate them completely. Instead, start to manage them and think about the fact you’ve had pizza three times this week. Ugh, pizza is go good. If you are going to indulge then make sure you’re making up for it in the gym.

F*&k the haters

If you have people in your life that you constantly get into it with or you feel like they talk down to you, get rid of them. That sounds harsh, but we’re talking about your personal wellbeing and happiness here. At no point should you feel like you’re stuck with people that keep you down or compete with you. Their gripes with you are all in the effort to make themselves feel better. If separating yourself from them completely doesn’t feel like the best option than perhaps a conversation with them informing them of your issues and concerns might be the better route. However, the majority of the time, if those people were a pain in the ass to deal with before, you can bet they’re going to be even bigger pain in the ass defending themselves later. There’s no time for any of this nonsense. Don’t try to convince them to like you or force your way into their hearts. Just move on and surround yourself with people who do enjoy your company.

Give back to others

Volunteer. Start doing for others more than for yourself. If you’ve got some spare change in your pocket than give it to someone in need. If you see someone sitting there who doesn’t have shoes and you’ve got the money in your account to help them out than go ahead and buy them a pair of shoes. Imagine being in their situation. You don’t know their story nor do you probably want to know their story, but you can help the current chapter their living get a whole hell of a lot better. Raid your wardrobe and get rid of the clothes you don’t wear by donating them to goodwill. Also, don’t tell anybody you’re doing these things because that’s not why you’re doing it. It’s not about getting a pat on the back or for someone to say, “Hey you’re really nice.” People who brag about how they donated or volunteered aren’t doing those things for others but instead for recognition.

Do things because in this little world, we’re all in this together and we need to help one another. If you were in an unfortunate situation or down on your luck, you would want people to help you if they could. Do the same for others without the expectation of anything in return.

Take a break

If you’ve been really pursuing a hobby or passion full force and you start to feel like that thing you love doing (painting or singing or dancing or comedy or YOU FILL IN THE BLANK) is becoming like a job than take a break. Don’t force yourself into doing an activity or being a part of something that makes you upset or stressed. If you start to feel like you’re going through the motions than you need to step back and take a little vacation. These vacations allow you to come back revitalized and refreshed. They allow you to come back excited because the time off reminds you what you loved about doing that thing in the first place. Even more so, it may help you to explore other areas of your life that haven’t been looking into. For example, I took a break from performing improv  to fully focus on areas I’d been neglecting and that interest me such as writing. In the time since my break, I’ve written over 10+ satirical articles for Second City (3 for the Redeye) and 4 articles for TimeOut Chicago.

Take as much time as you need to. If you need a week or a month or a year, take it. The only person who can decide how much time is the correct amount is you.

Quality time

Spend quality time with your loved ones. Not just hanging out, but actually being there, talking, and listening to them. This is the decision to make a conscious effort to help and listen to them with their problems or issues should they have any. Just BE with someone. Put your phone away and have a conversation where you’re actively listening and you’re not distracted. Look into their eyes and engage with them. Life is short and sometimes you don’t really know how much time you have with people. Today, we tend to focus on our social networks and online presence more so than real relationships. Make an effort to go and see family multiple times a month if they’re local or a year if they’re a little farther away. Even then, you can always pick up the phone and call them.

Down the road, you’ll remember those moments more so than you will remember scrolling through your newsfeed like a zombie. Although, pug pictures on Instagram are a national treasure.

Voyage out to the unexplored

Travel to places you’ve never been before. Look up the top 10 surrounding states or cities, best areas to visit, or just beautiful places to go and schedule time to visit them. Hell, go on a hike or go camping with some friends. Go out and connect with nature and see the marvelous world that we live in. Whatever it is, just go out and go on an adventure to new land with your loved ones. Take your girlfriend or boyfriend to a beautiful place that you didn’t even know existed. Then watch the ridiculous amount of geese in that area hiss at them while you laugh hysterically. These are the spontaneous moments that you’ll remember forever.

Visualize your dreams coming true 

When it comes down to it all, it’s important to actively visualize what you want in life in great detail. Picture it in your head and see it coming to fruition. If you want to be an astronaut than think of yourself flying through space or landing on the moon and dancing. That might have been a ridiculous example, but you know what I mean. If you want to be a famous singer, close your eyes and see yourself on a stage belting it out in front of thousands. If you want to be an actor (like I do), picture yourself at the Academy Awards giving your acceptance speech thanking your family and friends. Whatever it is, envision it coming to life. Dream it then do it. These visualizations help you to make the changes and adjustments necessary to making your dreams become a reality.  Also, picturing yourself accomplishing your goal is also going to take you down the road of training relentlessly to get there. That training or preparation can then become a reality as soon as you open your eyes.

In addition, write it down and be specific. Buy a whiteboard or use a note taking app on your phone and update it every day with short-term and long-term goals you’d like to accomplish for the day, week, month or year. Personally, I use OneNote to track my notes, goals, ideas, and pretty much everything (Christmas list) and it syncs continuously between my phone and computers. Write what you want here (I want to be an actor in film and television) and look at it every single day.

Just remember, no matter what your goal is, if you put it out into the universe, the universe will work with you to make it happen. When it comes down to it, look at your life and decide whether it’s time for an upgrade or personal reinvention. Are you ready to shed the old armor and upgrade to the new or have you hung up the mantle and it’s now collecting dust? It all starts with the decision to change and the courage to go through with it.


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