Two magazines on my coffee table insist on coaching me to career reinvention — even on the weekend.
The latest issue of Fortune tells its always-ambitious readers how to pull off the ultimate career makeover.
MORE, geared for women of my generation (that’d be those 40 and up, and I’m not telling you how hard I have to squint see that threshold) loves to showcase ‘career reinventions’ that involve lawyers monetizing inner peace as yoga instructors and exhausted hedge fund manager channeling Gaia through organic farming. Money, MORE likes to posit, shouldn’t get in the way of a good reinvention.
The overarching theme: you have to abandon who you were to become who you need to be to stay solvent — and to have a prayer of saving enough for retirement. Take the case of former trial lawyer and mystery novelist Paul Levine. His minor celebrity wasn’t sufficient to tide him over from print to Kindle. Now he’s coaching would-be authors in how to navigate the choppy waters of getting their books published electronically and sold through the likes of Amazon — the precise transition that he barely survived. “I didn’t have a grand plan,” Levine told Fortune. “I was fueled by fear and desperation.”
What a waste of energy, talent, and experience.
Reinvention is a false hope. As Levine’s own career illustrates, there’s no point in reinventing yourself from one dead end career to another.
Reinvention sounds great – fresh start and all that. But it’s a reaction, not a plan.
What is a plan is the model of the career lattice — continual, incremental change. Always adding skills that complement those you already use every day; cycling into assignments that give you new experiences related to those you already handle every day; finding new uses for skills you’ve mastered.
Reinvention is reactive: it demands that a new opportunity exist before you make a wholesale jump from your old, dying career to a new career that may or may not have greater potential. Latticing positions you to prepare today for careers of tomorrow that aren’t quite invented yet. But through latticing, you can move into those careers as soon as they emerge.