Repurposing Your Life
Good friend and author Sara Wiseman once explained to me that, in the literary field, there is a term called ‘repurposing.’ This one word altered the way I have looked at the world ever since. Repurposing is essentially the process of reworking a piece that you (or someone else) have written and released, and then resubmitting it as a “new” work or sending it to another publisher. Writers do this all the time– with articles, blog posts, even entire books!
I can hear what you’re probably thinking:
Well, that’s all fine and dandy . . . if you’re a writer. But what does that mean to you? You’re a drummer.
BINGO! I’m a drummer. Okay, stay with me. We’re headed off on a bit of a tangent but, I promise, we’ll get back to repurposing shortly!
I have followed a career path similar to that of millions of drummers who have come before me. Performing gigs; teaching lessons; living the musician dream; out late; up early; overworked; underpaid. I’m not knocking the choice to pursue that lifestyle; I’m actually in love with much of it. But many musicians follow the very same path everyone else has, thinking that they are going to be more successful than the next guy. This is a universal practice: people fall into this trap in every profession known to man. A few certainly will beat the odds and become rockstars in their fields. But the majority will simply do what they believe they are “supposed” to do, work really hard, and then- at some point- reach a seemingly impassable plateau. Exhausted and out of ideas, they eventually become complacent, “settle for” something less than what they had initially set out to achieve, and always dream of those would-a, could-a, should-a’s. Musicians, bankers, plumbers, painters, realtors, web designers . . . it’s happens to the best of us. Myself included.
Don’t get me wrong. I love making music, and wouldn’t trade it for flipping burgers if my life depended on it. But I’m still not doing everything I’d like to be doing. Not reaching all of the other life goals I’ve set for myself. Why? Because I’ve always been doing exactly the same thing that those countless others have done- somehow believing that I was going to be different. I’ll show the world! I was going to be the one that could “make it happen.” But alas, I was wrong. A smart little guy named Albert Einstein once said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Huh . . . guess I’m certifiably nuts.
Enter the concept of repurposing.
The day that Sara told me about it, I left thinking about how I could repurpose the drumming articles I had previously published and re-submit them to other magazines. But over the next few days, a lightbulb gradually appeared and illuminated over my head. Why repurpose my WORDS? Much more impactful on my life would be repurposing other people’s IDEAS!
From that moment forward, I have been fascinated to hear about new, creative ideas people have successfully implemented into their lives and careers, no matter the profession. I immediately try to think of a way that that approach or concept might be repurposed and applied directly to my life or career. It’s amazing what you’ll come up with when you start viewing the world through this kind of lens! Everyone you meet is another possible collaborator. Every social and business encounter inspires another brainchild. Every great idea breeds several more!
My challenge to you is to steal this notion of “repurposing,” keep it at the forefront of your mind while you go about your day, and jot down each idea that pops up. They might be mind-blowingly huge, or just simple thoughts. Perhaps how that insurance agent’s cool plastic business cards would be sweet for your tattoo parlor. Or how you could utilize that guitar player’s idea of mini YouTube lessons and promote your travel agency with a video series that reviews the world’s hottest destinations. The ideas are endless, people- get repurposing!