Reinventing Your Life: Discover Yourself through Transformational Projects
How an Experiment to Make a Little Extra Money Can Help You Discover Yourself
To discover yourself often means to step outside of your comfort zone and explore new opportunities, breaking free from the limitations you may have imposed on yourself. The good news is that the self-discovery journey might start with something as simple as an experiment to make a little extra money.
In 2007, I wanted to find another part-time job to make the same amount of money as parking cars at night. Two years of operating on little sleep were starting to take their toll on me. I had an idea to tutor math and knew how much I needed to make in order to get close to or match what I was making on average in tips for parking cars. I arrived at an hourly rate of thirty-five dollars. If I could book ten to twelve hours a week of tutoring then I could quit parking cars. I decided to pursue this tutoring project and I posted some flyers at universities in the area. A few days later, someone got back to me—Patricio.
Patricio was a student at Washington University in St. Louis. He needed help with his course on game theory. He replied to an ad I posted and asked if I could help and I said, “Yes, of course!” Problem was, I never took a course in game theory. My intention was to work with students who needed help with more basic math. However, this person called, and he was willing to pay thirty-five dollars an hour. This was your typical scenario in which you could either allow your limiting beliefs to discourage you or you could choose to move past them and embrace the opportunity to discover yourself and your true potential. I asked him what textbook he was using and I found a used older edition for thirty dollars online. If I stayed ahead of him, maybe this project could work.
I read up on game theory, followed his syllabus, and focused extra hard on the topics he wanted help with. For every one hour of tutoring, I spent three hours preparing. I was still parking cars those days, so my spare time was limited. Long story short, I was able to help him get through that course. The problem was I didn’t think it was sustainable to have to prep so much for a few paid hours per week. Once I finished up with Patricio, I didn’t look for any more tutoring projects and continued to park cars.
Little did I know that this short project with tutoring set up another opportunity.
Discovering Yourself: The Journey from Experiment to Passion
Later that year, I thought about tutoring again. Just because it didn’t work out with Patricio didn’t mean it was a bad idea. I applied for a part-time job at a local learning center teaching math. It didn’t pay as much as I made in tips from parking cars. However I didn’t need as much extra income since I had paid off my credit cards. This part-time job was significantly easier on me since it was five minutes away from my apartment and I didn’t have to leave the office early to get there. This was the perfect part-time project because it paid and allowed me to do something I enjoyed.
During your journey to discover yourself, the presence of authentic happiness acts as a powerful confirmation that you’re on to something valuable in your life. In my case, it wasn’t long before the extra eight hours at the learning center felt like the best hours of my week! What I loved most about the job was the chance to help these young people break through limiting beliefs and unleash their confidence on math. I discovered what stood in their way more than any misunderstandings in math was a limiting belief they could not be good at the subject. Most of my time was spent breaking through their limiting beliefs because then they would often be able to handle the math without my help. I absolutely loved this job! If only they had full-time positions for the same salary I was making, I would have switched in a minute!
That Christmas holiday I went back to New Jersey to celebrate with my family for a couple of weeks. I told them all about my new part-time job and couldn’t stop talking about the learning center and all of the students I helped. I went on and on about everything I was learning and that I was unleashing a part of me I didn’t even know was there. Through this work, I was challenged, happy, and fulfilled in those eight hours per week. Just like me, you will see how the profound passion you’re finding in your quest to discover yourself radiates through every aspect of your life and you just want to share everything about it with your loved ones and your friends.
The strange thing was that my day job was pretty awesome too, just in a different way. Around the same time, I was promoted to national account manager for the Anheuser-Busch account and traveled all around the country to places like New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Diego, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, and many other cities. Everywhere we went with Anheuser-Busch, you could count on an epic party.
But even with all that excitement in my day job, something was different about teaching math. Helping students break through and do something they did not believe they could do produced an incredible feeling! It’s hard to describe what it felt like to stretch my skills in ways I didn’t even know I could and to do so in service of helping someone in such a profound way. This job was becoming my passion.
To Truly Discover Yourself Is to Reevaluate and Transform Your Career
My holiday visit was coming to an end, and it was time to head to the airport for my flight back to St. Louis just after the new year. My parents drove me to the airport, and on the ride, they noticed I was uncharacteristically quiet. Since I was a child, they knew that if I wasn’t talking, it was either because I was sick or something was on my mind.
They asked, “What’s wrong?”
I said, “I don’t want to go back to St. Louis. I mean, I don’t want to go back to my day job. It’s fun but I really love what I’m doing at the learning center. A lot!”
While I could be good, even very good at my day job, I believed I could be outstanding at working with students. I didn’t know if I wanted to teach math or help all people break through limiting beliefs to do something they really want to do. Whatever it was, I knew it wasn’t what I was doing at my day job.
That was the moment I realized it was time to reinvent my career.
Why Reinvent after You Discover Yourself?
- When I realized I was unhappy with my body and wanted to have more energy and strength, it was time to reinvent my health.
- When I summed up all of my debt and arrived at a number close to $150K, it was time to reinvent my finances.
- When I finally accepted I was in a relationship that was no longer right for me, it was time to reinvent my personal life.
- When I discovered my mental health was not strong enough for what I was going through, it was time to reinvent the way I took care of my mind.
- When my job, which was a dream in many ways for a person my age, was no longer fulfilling me as much as a part-time job, it was time to reinvent my career.
- When I was blindsided by a layoff during the worst moment in the COVID-19 pandemic, it was time to reinvent my career again.
- When COVID-19 significantly complicated and delayed the immigration process for my wife to move to the US so we could finally live together, I knew it was time to reinvent my work and where I lived.
Everything I have done to reinvent myself was about becoming more closely aligned with who I really am and what mattered most to me. Every time I found myself out of alignment in any area of my life, it was time for reinvention.
Reinvention has nothing to do with becoming someone new and everything to do with becoming who you really are and engineering the life you want.
When you fall out of alignment in life, as you should periodically since you are always growing and evolving, reinvention can help you get back into alignment. You can continuously work to discover yourself as you transform throughout your life and to reinvent different areas of your life so they are in alignment with the person you are today and the person you want to become tomorrow.
So why reinvent yourself?
More simply put, because there’s an area in your life that is not aligned with your current values, passions, or purpose. Because life is not on your terms. Your schedule, your income, your time is not on your terms. Because what matters most to you cannot be a priority in your current situation. This is why you reinvent yourself.
Reinvention most likely won’t be a smooth ride. However, it is the path to becoming your best self and living your best life—a life that is aligned with your values, passion, and purpose. Quitting your job is just one of many steps along the path.
Before your quit, consider attending one of my upcoming Reinvention Project Design sessions so that you can take the first step to evaluating whether quitting is right for you. You can register here.