A colleague of mine recently celebrated her thirty-fifth year of employment to the same organization.  This is no small feat.  Even assuming that an organization survives for thirty-five years, a number of both personal and professional factors have to align in order to achieve such a claim.  I applaud my colleague for her achievement and dedication, and I know that her employer appreciates her decades of work and experience.

On the other end of the spectrum, I meanwhile once went through three different employers in just as many years.

While I may not be achieving the same milestone as my colleague any time soon, research carried out by LinkedIn found that scenarios such as mine are actually common.  Their findings showed that individuals who graduated college between 2006 and 2010 (I finished my undergrad in 2009) held an average of 2.85 jobs over the following five years.  Statistically speaking, I’m average.  And while there has always been a stigma that baby boomers generally held lifelong jobs, a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that baby boomers actually averaged 11.7 different jobs between ages 18 and 48 (note that in the Bureau study, changing positions within the same organization counted as a job change).

There can be benefits that come from changing jobs or careers.  This Forbes article, for example, points out that individuals who remain at one organization for a number of years can become complacent, whereas those who have moved around can gain valuable new insights and make important professional connections that could lead to greater opportunities.  It can also be a chance to learn new skills and knowledge that could later result in promotions.  And for those leaving established organizations in order to start their own business, it can radically transform your life.

For clarification, the intent of this post is not to suggest that it is time for you to “pull up stakes and seek greener pastures”.  Rather, it is to simply make clear that it is okay to branch out and pursue something new, to reinvent yourself when necessary.  While this need may come about from negative factors such as burnout or other challenges, at other times it may simply come from recognizing a need or opportunity and deciding to act upon it.  This is what led Jim McKelvey to create Square, having seen a need for an easier method for accepting credit card payments for his glass blowing company.  When you see an opportunity or a need that you believe you can fill, don’t be afraid to take a chance and step into that void.  In Jim’s case, doing so radically transformed how countless businesses around the world are operating.

Reinventing yourself has been common in many highly successful individuals:

  • Megyn Kelly worked for years as a lawyer before moving into journalism and television.
  • Colonel Sanders worked as a steam engine stoker, insurance salesman, and filling station operator before inventing his signature chicken recipe.
  • Ray Kroc sold paper cups, worked real estate, and played piano in bands before crossing paths with the McDonald brothers.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger started as a bodybuilder before moving on to acting and then to serving as the Governor of California.
  • And closer to home, VIPSeen Live co-host Morgan King has worked in fields ranging from steel mill work, barbering, harness making, and radio.

And it isn’t just individuals who reinvent themselves; reinvention is a necessity for businesses as well.  Cell phone giant Nokia began as a company selling rubber boots, Shell gasoline began as an importer of actual sea shells, and Nintendo was founded in 1889 as a maker of playing cards.

On a word of caution, “reinvention” should never be used as an excuse for failing to try.  Giving up on something after only a few attempts, or changing jobs for reasons that aren’t benefiting you in the long-term, are never intelligent moves.  Success will always take effort.  Looking again at Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example, being successful in three distinct fields (bodybuilding, acting, and politics) required massive amounts of commitment and hard work.  Succeeding in bodybuilding did not guarantee that he would succeed as an actor, but he committed the time, effort, and energy to make it happen.  Whatever you are trying to achieve, always remember that it will require effort.

The bottom line is this: you are allowed to try and do whatever you imagine and envision yourself doing.  And don’t be afraid to experiment and fail.  Try something new, and it may lead you to a path allowing you to profit from your interests and passions in a way you haven’t yet imagined.  As professional development coach and author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Individuals Stephen Covey has stated, “Your power to choose the direction of your life allows you to reinvent yourself, to change your future, and to powerfully influence the rest of creation.”  And to quote C. S. Lewis, “You’re never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”



Jeremiah Clark, M.A., is a healthcare IT consultant with six Epic Systems certifications. He is also
a partner at Appalachian Digital, a local web development agency, and a founding partner of
MHQC LLC Real Estate Development. He and his wife Erin are natives of Kingsport, TN.