STEP FOUR: CHECK YOUR EGO, AND THEN CONQUER YOUR FEAR.
Draper, the former newspaper publisher who is now figuring out how to gut catfish, says one of the questions she and her career coaches often returned to in her reinvention analysis was, can my ego accept this? She was, after all, about to leave a job that she had nearly 20 years of expertise in for one in which she had established only a toehold. And she knew there would be days when she’d have no idea what she was doing. “When you start really thinking about it,” Draper says, “you realize that it is so much easier to stay in a job where you are comfortable.”

That’s why Acevedo warns potential career reinventors to be ready to accept regular blows to the ego. “I have friends who are used to doing six-figure deals and being the boss,” she says. “You’re probably not going to walk into a new industry and start at that level. You have to build your credibility first.”

The bottom line is, career reinvention isn’t for everyone. It can be difficult. It can be expensive. It can be risky. And it can involve working the kind of long, hard, and lightly compensated hours that usually come at the start of a career, not at the midway point. That’s why Draper, a Louisiana native who has been eating mudbugs for as long as she can remember, says having a passion for your new industry is critical. “I love eating fish, I love cooking fish, and I couldn’t have made this move if I didn’t,” she says.

Maybe we should have started with a different step: Reinventor, know thyself. In my case, I have to decide if I really, really want to stop typing this story and start chopping 20 pounds of onions instead. Because if I’m not sure -- if anyone looking to reinvent him- or herself is unsure -- going through all those other steps is a waste of time, money, and effort. As Acevedo puts it, “When you’re making this kind of change, the first person out of the many you have to convince is yourself.”