I’m Entering My Fifth Incarnation (in the Same Lifetime)
I view personal growth as reincarnation. You build on what you experienced before
Prince released 39 albums and left recordings of dozens more. Which blows my mind. Humans are capable of constant reinvention on an almost incomprehensible level. And sometimes that reinvention means changing course in unexpected ways.
I’ve certainly experienced that. But after the last year, we all have. And it was a major learning experience. It’s your choice to take advantage of it.
I’m a Buddhist but I’m not there yet with rebirth and reincarnation after death. My Western brain, trained to respect the scientific method, can’t believe something that cannot be observed or measured. But I do embrace reincarnation within the life we are living. I have observed my own.
How many lives have you lived? Did you ever think about it? If you’re young (my definition is 30 or under), it may be hard to have any perspective on that. I’m older and as I get older, I can see the patterns I’ve followed through this life.
This exercise will tell you a lot about yourself
And it will not always be pleasant.
In my case, there are relationship choices I made that hurt others. But in hindsight, they ended up propelling me forward, albeit unintentionally. That is the way it works. Transitions are almost always painful on some level.
Losing a business because someone you trusted checked out.
Leaving your spouse for someone else.
Discovering a career choice was a bad decision, after the fact.
Those are the negative transitions. Fortunately there are both positive ones and unexpected outcomes. That failed marriage forced me to deal with underestimating my value. I had to sell myself hard after hitting bottom. And I sold myself at a higher rank than I had aspired to. And I did not look back.
A failed business is crushing
I have shut two businesses. It is a form of heartbreak. The first was a recording studio business that was a labor of love after a previous musician life (one of those incarnations). As a business it made no sense. And technology changed so our equipment was about to be worthless. We auctioned it off and during the auction my partners and I took turns having panic attacks.
The second business was a failure of faith. I had a brilliant young cofounder who was essential to our success. We were doing exceptionally well. Top of the world. And he decided to check out. He just stopped doing the work.
I gave him the business, he ran it into the ground, and it cost me my savings. That life was both fantastic and awful. But it led me to years of success as a software executive in revenue-positive later stage startups. I knew a few things by then.
These incarnations take many forms
There were as many maturity incarnations as business or career ones. And emotional growth periods. And, especially, creative growth. The thread through all of this was a steady creative drive. Music. Writing. Strategy. Mentorship. Now I’ve circled back to the core driving force. Creativity, specifically writing.
Reinventing yourself can be a conscious process. That is the core premise of all self-help books and courses. But, in my experience, it is often driven by adversity that drives you to go beyond what your sights were set on. Sometimes fundamental change is not voluntary.
The day you start to manage your life
If you are observant of yourself, there should come a point where you assess these life segments and find a pattern. That pattern should lead you towards a better next life, if you choose to take control. That change takes place when you stop reacting and you start acting.
I should not have to repeat that but I have to.
I had a kind of revelation about my life in this crazy past year. My life is only controlled by my choices and actions, not by those events I let force me into fast decisions. I came out of the year certain about one thing. My work and creative life would be driven by my choices. It was incredibly liberating.
I had made money a thing that forced my choices. Unnecessarily. I enjoyed having senior management titles and salaries. Covid forced that into irrelevance. And released me from that previous incarnation. It liberated me in a strange turn of events.
I’m not a person who is wracked with guilt. I never have been. For me, that has been a survival mechanism, a means to get past my own bad choices without beating myself up over them. I could move on. This, in hindsight, has turned out to be one of my best talents, the ability to put things behind me and move on.
This incarnation seems like the big one. To dedicate myself to creative life that is also sustainable. No more offices or CEOs, though I’ve loved working with every leader I’ve met. A self-directed life.
Isn’t that what we should all aspire to?
The map to your next incarnation
I rarely do this, but here is a potential map to your next life:
- Sit down and break out your life to this point. Break it into turning points and consider what caused you to turn. Was it voluntary or involuntary?
- Write down or tell someone objective what you learned, including all your mistakes. This is important because it helps clear out the lies or excuses you told yourself.
- Give it some time
- Think about where you are now
- Then think about what you want versus what the world wants you to do.
That’s it. You’ll learn something about yourself, if you’re lucky. Maybe your next incarnation will be one you choose because it’s what you really want, not because your previous life pushed you into it. That is called karma, which means intent.
I’ll let you think about that. Your intent in this life determines its course.