What do you do when you are told you can never walk again? Our Guest Blogger Pooja Arora answered that question nearly two decades ago in a journey that has so far taken her through deep dives in alternative healing and wellness, high peaks of the corporate ladder, even entrepreneurship attempts – and the thread that connects her successes and challenges is the subject of reinvention.
Whether it is a habit, a career, a relationship, or even an attitude – none of us can escape change. But can we own that change? How can we mould ourselves into a new avatar? Read her perspective, and if it resonates with you, see if you want to sign up for her workshop “How to reivent youself?” scheduled for Tuesday, March 15, 2016.
“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -”― Heraclitus
Changes in our lives are ever prevalent. Some changes may be something we look forward to – a major career shift, moving location, getting married or becoming a parent. Some
are forced on us – losing a dear one, losing a job, health issues etc. But whether we realize it or not, each time we go through a major life-change, we re-invent ourselves… We can either choose to do that actively and consciously or we can let circumstance re-define us.
Like most of us, I’ve gone through multiple re-inventions – some I chose consciously and some not so much. Looking back – the ones where I was in the driver’s seat have always helped me out a lot more in moving forward.
My biggest re-invention was when I was age 20. While most of my friends were contemplating what to wear to their next social event, the pressures of university or working life, failing relationships and problematic skin; I found myself contemplating five very bleak words; the words of a medical expert “You will never walk again”. With a broken spine and neck from a freak fall from a balcony in my apartment, I was heartbroken. Ambitious, high spirited, vivacious and rebellious in nature, I was ready for the world until fate stepped in. Somehow, I still don’t know how, I summoned up my stubbornness, took those five words and tried to transform them into a positive “I am alive, I have been given a second chance and I WILL walk again!”. This mindset was the beginning of a transformative yet challenging journey. I had to learn to let go of my ego and ask for help as I could hardly move or carry anything. I had to re-learn how to write and eat (as my fine finger moments were affected), how to walk…so talk about having to literally and figuratively re-invent myself and re-learn who am I as a person.
Over the next five years, I gradually transformed myself from a victim to a victor and managed to scrap the prognosis served to me. And since then, I am not only walking but trekked up Machu Picchu and Mount Kilamanjaro!
“You’re never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis
Though I’ve gone through many ‘mini’ re-inventions, the next big one was when I dropped out of the corporate rat-race to become an entrepreneur. And my hesitation wasn’t the pay-check, but whether I would be successful or not. The biggest hurdle was my self-identity.
Coming from a small middle class business family, I had broken the conventional rules to becoming a ‘high-flying’ corporate executive, an international Brand Director. Even though I was done with the corporate world, I wasn’t done living that image, I wasn’t comfortable cutting that cord!
And yet as my career thrived, I felt a void that could not be filled by anything tangible. And it started taking a toll on my health. It was at this point that a revelation occurred. I had to create a ‘new identity’ for myself, however far it may be from my current one, and fulfill what was my “soul calling”. I needed to detach from the familiar and surrender to what felt right as opposed to what was perceived to be right. What felt ‘right’ was to nurture my alternate healing and wellness passion, which I had discovered after my accident but kept under wraps.
And now, after 15+ years on this wellness journey, I no longer shy away from being called a ‘yoga therapist’ or ‘meditation coach’ and am proud to call myself a ‘Reiki Master’. I started a company Vaidhyam, which means the art of healing and finally embraced healing as an integral part of me and my journey.
Along this path, I realized I was passionate about helping women succeed professionally, especially after they had gone through a major re-invention themselves: be that becoming a mom and taking a career break to focus on it, or moving countries with spouse, or trying their hand at freelance or entrepreneurship, or even early retirement. So I founded FlexTalent to help women get back to work by finding them flexible yet meaningful jobs and projects. My company is also helping women go through this process through a series of training workshops we call ‘Wind Beneath Your Wings’, focused on helping women re-invent and rebrand themselves.
“The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps.” – Bob Black
Learning from my journey, I’d like to share these steps that I believe can help anyone in their transformation:
1) Be very clear on who you want to be next! Take time to reflect. Meditate. Introspect. Talk to people you trust. Talk to experts if you need to. Examine your motivations and be honest with yourself. Challenge your limitations and conjure up what feels good. Conjure up your ‘new you’.
2) Surround yourself with reminders of your vision. Use creative visualization and mental imagery to make that vision come to life in your head. Write it down, talk about it, sense it. Live like it has already happened. Remember, if you don’t build castles in the air, you don’t build castles anywhere.
3) Just hang in there and focus on the ‘new you’. It’s not easy, I will be the first to admit. We don’t want to let go of what we are comfortable with. There’s a fear of the unknown and we have our limiting beliefs that drag us down. But each time we go through that, if we focus on our vision of the new you, we ask this question – what can I do to move a little bit forward? How do I maintain a little bit of momentum? And with that we get one step closer to our new avatar.
4) Create a support system. Reinvention is hard. I was extremely lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who had my back through both my challenges. You too will need to surround yourself with people who support your goal and will even challenge and question you! You need the right people around you to become the new you.
There’s an old adage that says that true courage isn’t about not feeling fear, it’s about feeling fear and acting anyway. Choose courage, choose to be proactive, and choose re-invention instead of letting your fear choose your future for you.
Pooja Arora is currently running wellness company Vaidyham and a boutique recruitment agency FlexTalent, focussing on flexible job options. She’s is an engineer, an MBA and marketing specialist with 12+ years of international marketing experience working with companies like P&G and Unilever. She is also a Reiki master teacher, certified Yoga instructor, Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle counsellor, NLP practitioner and a meditation guide.