Summer is the cocoon of reinvention.

For many, this time of year is the capstone of one journey and the beginning of a new one.

Freshmen are getting ready to be sophomores.
Juniors are getting ready to be seniors.
Seniors are getting ready for college.
College graduates are saying, oh $#!t I have to get a job!

And those of us who have been in the workforce for many years have a chance to contemplate our own reinvention. I just met with a group of women on the subject of career and purpose.  The kinds of questions that emerged were:

Am I making the right decisions?
Do I have the courage to make the right decisions?
Am I living a balanced life?
Does my job define me?
Am I making a meaningful contribution?
What’s my exit strategy?

Many of us think through questions like this. I was one of them five years ago when I took my first daughter on college visits. After the third campus tour, my appetite for learning was stoked and I told her, “I love this place. If you don’t go to school here, I will.” I enrolled in graduate school that fall. One things led to another, one job led to another and here I am in my reinvention, one year into a new business that gives wings to my questions, traction to my “meaningful life” and my ongoing reinvention. Judith Glaser says it well in Creating We:

“Change is about choices, and knowing you have choices in the first place. It’s about people wanting to do something great and wanting to be a part of something greater than they can accomplish alone (323).”

(More on Creating We here.)

When we are focused on the collective we then we live in a state of constant, dynamic change. Glaser calls it a state of “ongoing reinvention.” In the course of a lifetime, we will enter the cocoon multiple times, reinventing career, marriage, parenthood…and then the empty nest. These don’t even account for mid-life insanity, abandonment and relationships hijacked by narcissism.

The key to answering these questions is not answering these questions. Giving up certainty is more than one of the gifts of imperfection (a la Brene Brown), it helps us develop the instincts to know how to navigate decisions, balance and purpose in every facet of life. Maybe the right questions to ask are

Am I serving a greater purpose?
Am I hanging around with people with minds and dreams bigger than mine?
What legacy am I leaving in the world?

Tell us about your metamorphosis. Are you in the cocoon or ready to bust out?