Reinventing or Maintaining Yourself for Long-Term Success

woman and butterfly

Create clarity on exactly what you want to change to reach your new goals

By Connie Cheung, DPT

Do you ever find yourself questioning who you truly are? Or find your life or your work so mundane that you want to change things up a bit? Do you daydream about a different career and life? Or perhaps you struggle with motivation to do the things you no longer want to do?

Curiosity is very natural; we all experience times in our lives where everything feels mundane. The truth is, many of us live our lives fulfilling the expectations of others because, from a very young age, we were shaped and conditioned by our caregivers to be who we are expected to be, rather than who we truly are. Therefore, reinventing yourself can be a very empowering experience.

Reinventing yourself is identifying patterns, values, or activities that no longer serve you and changing them for better opportunities. While many reinventions can affect external things, such as your job, location, appearance, and relationships, true reinvention happens on the inside in how you think, feel, and act.

Some examples of reinvention can be a career shift, breaking bad habits or creating good ones, or learning a new skill. Reinvention is self-discovery and awareness.


There are many reasons you might feel inspired to reinvent yourself. It may be that you’re in a rut — you feel as though everything in your life is mundane, and you can’t muster the motivation to improve things. It’s possible that running your practice feels like a chore and the spark of career satisfaction is missing from your life. It could be that you’re going through a life-changing crisis, such as a divorce, the death of a close one, or health challenges. Or maybe when you look around, you feel that you are not in alignment with who you want to be or were meant to, and you feel a desire to find your purpose in your life. Perhaps, though, it’s none of these reasons, or several of them, or you simply feel restless. That’s perfectly fine — you don’t need a reason to reinvent yourself. If you feel the urge to do so, for any reason, I recommend that you consider it.


1. Begin with self-reflection and awareness. It’s important to have clarity around what you want without any influence from anyone or anything. Ask yourself who you are, what you enjoy, and what you hate. It’s important to avoid considering others who have expectations of you; this is exclusively about your own wants and desires.

2. Write down your core values. Many of us live our lives not considering what we truly value in life. We may say we value family but find ourselves overworking and doing things that don’t serve our family. This is because we are not consciously making decisions; instead, we are making decisions based on what we subconsciously believe. Such beliefs are typically limiting beliefs that we’ve adapted from a young age, so it’s important to get clarity so that you can live your values.

3. Determine what you want to change. In reinventing ourselves, we must clarify exactly what we want to change in order to achieve transformation. What are some habits in your thoughts, feelings, and behavior that you want to change to better suit your new identity? This can include altering the trajectory of your practice; introducing meditation into your schedule; adjusting your eating habits, sleep cycle, or exercise routine; correcting negative thought patterns; and anything else that would bring you closer to living your core values.

4. Set goals.1 Setting goals is essential for success. A ship without a rudder is destined to go nowhere, so you must get clarity on what the end result is. Do you want to change your career focus to a different area of physical therapy? Are you considering growing your practice, or perhaps selling it? Would you prefer to spend more time with your family than you currently do? Do you have any hobbies you would like to explore more deeply? As Steven Covey said, in order to accomplish exactly what you want, “Begin with the end in mind.”2

5. Create better habits at home and at work. As Charles Duhigg wrote of the Golden Rule of habit change, “You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.”3 This means that, as with anything, we must be clear on what habit we want to change and then replace it with a better one.

6. Begin a journal. Journaling has many benefits, and there’s scientific evidence to prove this case. Journaling can be a powerful way to “change” thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. The benefits include helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns about your work and your personal life and providing opportunities for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors.4

7. Seek guidance. We are social beings, and as such, we need support and accountability, especially when trying to reinvent ourselves. Our mind will resist the change, as it’s conditioned to prefer to stay the same despite the negative consequences. So enlisting different perspectives from those who are close to you, while still prioritizing your own, is key to success.5

8. Surround yourself with those who support you. According to research, support from friends and family dramatically improves health behavior goals.6 Also, emotional support when trying to change how you show up in your life and at your practice is essential to beat self-sabotage and “resilience.” Make sure to enlist those who you trust as you plan your reinvention.

9. Celebrate the wins. When it comes to setting goals, we all have a tendency to overlook the small wins and only consider the “big” win. Don’t do this! Instead, establish milestones for your progress so that you can learn to celebrate the small wins. According to the Harvard Review, the power of progress is fundamental to human nature.7


Reinventing yourself requires introspection, planning, habit-building, and other forms of personal work. But putting in all that time and effort is worth it for a variety of reasons.

1. It allows you to cultivate self-awareness and self-love.2 Self-love or self-confidence is essential for change.8 Without regard for self, any self-help efforts will be sabotaged by our tendency to self-loath. Reinvention is an act of creating a new, authentic self, which requires you to learn new ways of thinking, feeling, and doing. Cultivating self-awareness and compassion toward yourself is key to having a successful transformation in any aspect of your life, whether work or personal.

2. It realigns you with your authentic self. Your conditioned way of being is how you’ve lived your life. With reinvention, you are about to be aligned with who you truly are. When aligned with your true self, you will be at peace from within, and nothing outside of you can shake the conviction you have from within knowing with certainty that you are on your path. According to Psychology Today, authenticity improves our overall health.9,10

3. It cultivates growth. Change is hard. Learning to do hard things cultivates growth, and reinvention is changing aspects of yourself.11

4. It clarifies your purpose in life. Many people live a complacent life, and that can be mundane. They never take the time to gain clarity on what their purpose is because they believe their current life and career path are what is keeping them from pursuing their wildest dreams. Such limiting beliefs tend to keep them on a hamster wheel of their life and job, keeping them stuck in what’s familiar even if they are miserable. They are unable to see beyond the limits of their lives here and now, so they don’t even try. By taking risks and learning to manifest your dreams you can reach higher levels of purpose, which in turn provides you with a positive ripple effect in all aspects of your life.

5. It boosts your self-confidence. Just as physical exercise can improve your strength and endurance, your confidence can be boosted by learning to stretch yourself to be and do more. Reinventing yourself is doing and being someone you are not used to being, so there will be significant challenges that you face along the way.12


You can reinvent yourself no matter what your limiting beliefs or thoughts may be. All you have to do is to be clear on exactly what you want to change to reach the new goals for yourself.

If you’ve been considering a career change, whether you want to shake things up at your practice, switch your focus to a new area of physical therapy, or make another big shift, think about what the outcome will look like. What will your commute, pay, vacations, and coworkers be? Then consider your personal life and how a career change will alter all aspects of it — for example, relationships, finances, and health. Then carefully think through what changes you must commit in order to accomplish the desired outcome.

The important thing is to get started — and to expect challenges and resistance. But as long as you have all the above in place, such things will be easier to overcome.

The ripple effect in all aspects of your life will expand your mind. 

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1Forbes. “Neuroscience Explains Why You Need to Write Down Your Goals If You Actually Want to Achieve Them.”

2Covey S. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

3Duhigg C. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

4University of Rochester Medical Center. “Journaling for Mental Health.”

5Mayo Clinic. “Social Support: Tap This Tool to Beat Stress.”

6Penn State Extension. “Using Social Support to Help Our Healthy Behavior Goals.” Published June 28, 2018.

7Amabile TM, Kramer SJ. “The Power of Small Wins.” Published May 2011.

8Breines JG, Chen S. Self compassion increases self improvement motivation. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2012;38(9):1133-1143.

9Joseph S. “How Authenticity Enhances Health Outcomes.” Psychology Today. Published March 13, 2018.

10Eurich T. “What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It).” Harvard Business Review. Published January 4, 2018.

11Oregon State University. “Growth Mindset: What It Is, and How to Cultivate One.”

12Warrell M. “Use It Or Lose It: The Science Behind Self-Confidence.” Published February 26, 2015.

Connie Cheung, DPT

Connie Cheung, DPT, founder of Alkaline Method™, reinvented her career into entrepreneurship to have more impact in her clinical practice. She was able to successfully integrate psychology, coaching, nutrition, physical therapy, functional medicine, and Yoga to provide patients and clients with all the pieces of the puzzle to heal and thrive in their lives.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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