Whether fired or inspired: 5 tips to reinvent yourself

In an age of much change in the business world, more people are reinventing themselves. That could mean learning new skills to fit a new job, landing in a new industry or starting a new business.

Sometimes, the change is forced upon someone (fired); other times they force it upon themselves (inspired). The person might even be comfortable in a job, but a new opportunity or goal motivates them to try something much different — to reinvent.

Nigel Parker, for example, left a long career as a high-level engineer and manager in aerospace and other high-tech industries so he could reinvent himself. He became an inventor and started a company.

“Change often means reinvention,” said Parker, founder and CEO of RashEndZ Inc. and inventor of REZair, a skin-aeration liner that can be inserted inside a diaper, incontinence garment or wound dressing, helping to keep the skin dry and speed healing. “When a seismic shift happens in our lives, like leaving a job, moving, losing someone close to us, we have to choose who we want to become or else feel like we never reached our potential.”

Parker was inspired to help find a solution to a problem, suffered by many, that hit close to home. His cousin, Colleen John, a neonatal ICU nurse, told him of the severe diaper rashes she was treating in premature babies, and how those can develop into pressure ulcers or bedsores. Also a major concern for nursing homes and hospitals, bedsores lead to the deaths of about 60,000 patients each year.

John started using oxygen at the babies’ beds to direct air on the rashes to mitigate the problem. Parker invented the technology to more efficiently deliver oxygen to the diaper and skin.

“It put me on a mission,” Parker said. “The chance to help others is a gift. We have to keep growing, and when you find a new passion, you reinvent.”

Parker gives five ways to help you reinvent yourself:

1. Put your vision on paper.

Parker said it’s a matter of visualizing and verbalizing what you want. “Imagine what it will be like, outline it, energize yourself with happy details that counter the expected valleys you’ll encounter,” he said.

2. Find the right people.

Networking is vital, Parker said, and easier with the Internet and all forms of social media. “You can connect with people who encourage your change and make it for the better,” he said.

3. Learn all you can.

“Some people make the big mistake of thinking they don’t want to learn anymore,” Parker said. “Reinventing is about growing, and in some ways like you never have before.”

4. Organize your tasks.

It can get overwhelming, so stay on top of things by prioritizing daily and weekly. “You need to create to-do lists and have great time management geared to the goals in mind all the time,” Parker said.

5. Experiment.

“Much of pursuing a dream or new vision is trial and error, learning from mistakes,” Parker said. “Your mind has to be free to explore all the possibilities of your new endeavor.”

“Sometimes, you can’t wait for your future to find you; you find it,” Parker said. “That’s much of what reinventing is about. It’s a twist in the road on the long journey.”

Nigel Parker, founder and CEO of RashEndZ Inc., is a senior management and systems engineer professional with more than 25 years experience in aerospace, medical simulation and other high-tech industries. While working at Honeywell from 1984 to 2001, he worked on the space shuttle, military aircraft and commercial aircraft, among other projects.

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