If you woke up today bored and restless before you even managed to pull yourself out of bed, you might need a shot of reinvention. Lucky you. Jane Pauley has a jolt for your imagination.
In Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life, Ms. Pauley has combined a self-effacing personal memoir (her second) with a collection of stories and insights around the subject of personal reinvention. It’s a quick and enjoyable read, a little heavy on the personal memoir part for my liking, but only because I found the many other reinvention stories more interesting than her own. Still, her personal experience is the thread she uses to tie everything together, and it works.
Ms. Pauley’s immersion in this topic of personal change is significant, including a collaboration with AARP to produce a series of video interviews which have been aired over time on NBC. I’ve reviewed several of them. They’re quite good.
The many stories in the book cover almost the entire spectrum I’ve defined here at The Rest of Your Life. There are Lane Changers making significant job changes, Benefactors whose reinvention finds them focused on serving others, Ramblers who live “on the road,” and Expatriates living permanently in another country. There are CEOwners starting their own businesses, Adventurers striking out on some challenging quest and Seekers specifically searching for deeper meaning. Actually, there’s a little bit of Seeker in all of them. The only re-inventors missing here are Postgraduates pursuing new learning for its own sake and Competitors discovering the thrill of pitting themselves against some competitive challenge.
In reading reviews on Amazon, I’ve noticed some reader complaints that the book doesn’t provide more guidance to people who don’t feel sufficiently secure financially to make major “follow your passion” changes in their lives. These readers miss the point.
This is not a how-to book. Ms. Pauley isn’t offering a step by step process for transforming your life. Such books are already out there, and I think we will be seeing many more. They can be helpful, but I think they often miss a fundamental truth about personal reinvention that Ms. Pauley understands.
Reinventing yourself doesn’t lend itself to a roadmap and almost never proceeds on a schedule or in a straight line. It’s not something you can precisely prepare for. It kind of just happens. Sometimes you make a change, and sometimes a changes makes you.
But changing something is the unavoidable first step.
How do you discover the change you need?
Pauley quotes a poet who talks about “purposeful wandering…being actively available to connections.” She profiles a man who has rediscovered himself through a skill at creating elaborate constructions out of a sand — a sand carver — who advises people who are dissatisfied with their life to move slowly, to “just find something that is therapy…something that feeds your soul, that gets you excited [and] just try to make that a bigger part of your life.”
Is that the same as “follow your passion?” Ms. Pauley thinks not, and her most interesting insight cautions against that cliche.
“It’s not always good advice to just ‘follow your passion.’ There may be something more.”
You might be surprised to discover your passion is greater and different than you knew. In re-imagining your life, it’s important not to fall victim to a lack of imagination.
With that in mind, I recommend you grab a copy of this book and set your imagination free.