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The 6 Stages of Reinvention: Mapping Your Own Personal Growth

identity women's circle Jan 20, 2021

By Sierra Melcher

As of this month I have been alive for 42 years, and in that time I have learned a thing or two. I took a moment to see if I could capture some of the most important lessons I have learned; sort of a 42 lessons in 42 years. I was pleased with what the practice offered me but I think I got something even more important out of it; that I am a true master of reinvention. Since my mid-20s, I have been exercising my capacity to shape and direct my own life. I've had several careers, lived in several countries, had several lovers. I have been a traveler, a teacher, a writer, a public speaker, a community leader, a coach, a mom. 


What I've discerned reflecting back on all the various life lessons is a pattern. A pattern of my own reinvention. It is not just true in my own life, but in the hundreds of women I have had the honor of working with over the years. This pattern echoes The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock and the Hero's Journey, which you may be familiar from Joseph Campbell's work, and you may be familiar with because it is the journey all of your favorite characters have ever taken. 

Over the years, I’ve mapped out my own Heroine’s Journey; my personal growth moving through the cycle below.



I want to share the steps of this pattern with you rather than my 42 life lessons. I work with women going through the same cycle. I support them to become aware of what step of reinvention they are in and how to explore it. When you understand this whole process, you understand that reinvention comes with a necessary uncomfortable, unknown stage. We often turn around at that point when we should be going forward. Understanding this process keeps us on the right track to accelerating our own personal growth. The Heroine’s Journey and six stages of reinvention that I describe below, shows me and my clients that we are on the right track towards our personal growth when things get uncomfortable. When you can identify the various stages and think, oh this is where I am and this is where I'm going, of course I feel this way because of the part of the process I'm in. When you can identify and label it, you become more accepting of where you are in your journey and more open to being in the discomfort.


So without further ado - the stages of reinvention are as follows:

  • Stage One: The Nudge. The nudge is that moment when you recognize that something is off. You don't have to know what it is that no longer fits. Nothing else happens in this stage; you just observe an internal whisper that something needs to change.

  • Stage Two: The Borderland. As the name suggests this is the place in between. You have recognized something as off and no longer fits but you resist change. When I am in the borderland, I find myself asking, can I stay without making any big shifts? Can I stay in the familiar I know? The space is like a purgatory.

  • Stage Three: The Unknown. Going into the unknown, where you take the plunge. This is where the pain of the unknown outweighs the pain of staying as you are. And so you take a risk.

  • Stage Four. Expectations. Whether you are excited or terrified about this next step of the journey, you inevitably come up against what you thought would happen. This can be exhilarating or disappointing. This is the beginning of what I call the messy middle. The becoming - the undoing - the transition.

  • Stage Five: The Breakdown. In this stage are the trials, the tests, and the losses. This is where you are out of your depth. This is where you feel like everything is falling apart. This stage can be known as the breakdown. Sometimes the breakdown comes between the borderland and the plunge, but if it didn't, then it surely will come now. This is where you let go of what has been, of who you have been. This is a very raw stage and this is the depth of the unknown. This is the stage many of us want to avoid, which is the reason people spend as much time in the borderland as they do. Some people choose to never leave the borderland, but this trial and error is also vital and rich. It's particularly essential because being at the end of the messy middle is where something that you could never have anticipated finds you. This is where what had been nudging you before becomes so clear the path opens up; the light shines bright and everything is in alignment. Everyone wants to be in at the end of the mess immediately. Most people don't want to go through the messy middle to get here but that's the only way.

  • Stage Six. The Integration. In the final stage of this reinvention process is integration. Adapting to your new self, reintegrating into your environment, and getting to know your new you. This can be fun but it can also be challenging, especially if those around you are also resistant to change. Be aware that while you have made the circuit of reinvention and arrived at your so-called destination, it won't always be easy breezy. The final thought for this pattern of reinvention is to remember that it is a circle and not a straight line. As you are adapting to your new self, know that someday you are likely to outgrow that expression as well and a new nudge may find you again, initiating yet another change launching you on yet another reinvention cycle. Safe travels!


To understand the process better, read Sierra Melcher’s book, “How Change Really Happens”.  Let me read you a chapter of my book. Click here to access my Resource Library

We are continuing to reinvent ourselves, which can be scary and energizing all at the same time. Through my own experiences and through working alongside women going through such transitions, I can tell you that it gets easier. And when you have the tools, the awareness and a community of women who are ready to make the most out of their journey, the process can feel more empowering than isolating.


What is Women’s Circle? Integral Women is offering you the opportunity to check in with yourself and where you’re at with a pose of strong, supportive women and a mentor to guide you through the stages. Join us on Monday, January 25th (& Feb 8/ 22) at 7 PM EST. Click here to sign up- 

Questions? Email us at [email protected]



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