Can you Pivot? – Part 1

Maybe you’re dissatisfied with your current position and are looking to start a new company. Maybe you want to transfer to a new position within your firm or even change industries. Perhaps you’re a manager who wants your employees to be satisfied and productive. Regardless of which of these might apply to you, you probably know that making a major shift in your career direction can take time, and – if done badly – can be very expensive. In the book, Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, Jenny Blake tells us how to make that shift.

We all know the feeling: you’re stuck in a rut in your job, but you’re too scared to switch things up and get out. After all, it might well put your finances at risk. Perhaps your family and friends have expressed concern at your desire to change tracks. They might even say it’s some sort of age-related crisis. But guess what? It’s perfectly normal for you to feel that way.

These days, it’s quite normal to have multiple careers. Few people stay at the same company for their entire working lives before retiring – things just don’t work that way anymore. In fact, the average American employee stays in one position for just four to five years.

A recent Gallup poll showed that up to 90 percent of employees are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from their jobs. It’s no great surprise, then, that people are on the lookout for new opportunities.

Crises that make you look elsewhere are in no way voluntary. But you can use that same outward-looking mentality to make a deliberate career shift in a new direction. It’s known as a career pivot, and to do it, you don’t even have to leave your current employer.

Pivoting isn’t something you do without planning though. Let’s look now at all the stages along the way. It makes no difference whether you want to found a company or if you want to take on a new role at your current firm – change can be overwhelming. However, you can make things easier by zooming out to get the big picture and thinking about how you want to plant your pivot.

There’s no need to get tangled up in the hows and whens of your pivot just yet. First of all, establish your vision: think carefully about what your broader values are. The author once had a client, Justin, who was sick of working for his family’s real estate business. Instead of delving into the issues of what Justin should do, the author’s first step was to identify Justin’s values and status.

Through their discussions, they determined that the most important factors for Justin were his health, financial security, environment and relationships with like-minded people. Based on this information, they were able to discuss Justin’s career options together.

Within a few months, Justin had been accepted to a business school in San Diego on a scholarship. There, he was able to meet new and inspiring friends, in a place that offered an inspiring and healthy environment.

The trick is to keep the focus of your dreams tight. Don’t start thinking long-term and in generalities; instead, define a pivot vision based on your values for the next couple of years.

Consider the author’s sister-in-law, Gillian. One day, while on the conveyor-belt career path that would make her a lawyer, she realized she wanted to get off. She didn’t want to spend the year after law school writing legal documents  – she wanted to become more engaged. She needed an environment in which she could be flexible and physically active, and in which she could interact with like-minded peers. Perhaps most of all, she wanted to start a business and a family with her husband.

Gillian had been taking a CorePower Yoga Teacher Training course at the time. Soon after starting, yoga had become central to her happiness. Even though she passed the bar, she decided to quit her position at the law firm to teach at a yoga studio and get involved in the yoga business. She was able to utilize her unique background to her advantage, and soon had a managerial position at the studio. This work left her feeling far more fulfilled than she would ever have been as a lawyer.

The lesson here is clear: if you clearly define your values and your vision, you’ll be more equipped for large-scale changes. You’ll know just what to do when those daunting decisions inevitably come up.

Check out my related post: Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want – Business Book Review 6

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