The idea seems simple. When something isn’t working, just change. Shift. Adapt. But our brain sabotages the effort. We’re convinced that if we just do better or try harder with our current path or process, we’ll see the result we want. And then we don’t. We need to engage the power of the pivot.
Pivots come in all shapes and sizes. We use these to generate momentum in our careers or business, our personal and family life, our relationships, our community. Pivots help us align and integrate the dimensions of life and work, and support us in progressing to and through a next step. How do you know it’s time for a pivot?
Even really successful people miss the signs.
When I asked for input—what would people most like to know about pivoting—the top responses asked about how to recognize the signs. Signs surface in many ways, unique to an individual’s experience. A few to watch for include:
- Our body often tells us when we need to consider a change. Physical indicators may include a sense of tiredness, fatigue, or brain fog. Sometimes symptoms sneak up gradually. Pay attention to headaches, upset stomach, or pressure felt in the chest that occur with greater frequency and without an underlying medical cause.
- We may feel fractured (that sense of being pulled in too many directions) or inundated (that experience of too many demands). In the past, we’ve always been able to accommodate adding to our plate. We’ve been that “go to” person, who delivers successfully and reliably. Now our plate feels like a platter piled so high that stuff is slipping off the edges (or will soon).
- A gap in meaning occurs when our life and work migrate off our center or core in terms of purpose, values, dreams, or commitments we make to ourselves. We sacrifice serenity for frenetic activity. We trade depth for the superficial.
- We’re putting in effort and not seeing results. We may feel frustrated or discouraged. Some people feel “held back.” Solutions that worked in the past no longer serve to move us forward.
When we struggle to focus or finish. When we hunger for something more, something different. When life and work no longer feel harmonized. These are all signs we’re ripe for a change.
Choose to update.
Not too long ago, Jay Shetty addressed this topic on his Daily Jay audio meditations on the Calm app. If we didn’t update our applications or operating systems on our phones, he noted, eventually these would just stop working. And yet we sometimes forget that our personal “operating system” also needs updating.
Attempting to power through or continue with old methods has limits. In the past, I’ve written about routines that failed when I moved [https://kathrynbingham.com/finding-flow-or-getting-it-back/]. When we’re experiencing a new setting or changes in life and work, we need to respond to prompts from our body, mind, and spirit. Whether we sense niggling suggestions or full-on goading, these internal insights prod us to rebalance, reorient, or shift direction altogether.
Finding your path.
Multiple paths support pivoting objectives. We’ve been primed, however, to seek out the fast fix and get discouraged when something doesn’t work right away. To find lasting success in the pivot, embrace the idea of the sandbox—testing ideas for change. Experimentation helps us refine the approach that works best for our unique set of goals and obstacles.
Address the foundations. Finding the energy to create something new or tap into creativity for change is difficult when we’re depleted. We’re most resilient when we’ve addressed our needs for sleep, exercise, down time, and good nutrition.
Pair with another goal. The holiday season lures plenty of people off track. Social events, enticing foods, and lengthy to do lists interrupt our routines. It’s no wonder the idea of resolutions in the new year surfaced. Unfortunately, data shows we don’t always create resolutions that stick.
One strategy that does work is linking a desired activity to more than one goal. For me, pairing fitness routines with a training calendar for the Cooper River Bridge Run starts my year off well. Each year, I reboot a 13-week workout schedule that ensures I’m ready for the event. I build strength, capacity, and endurance week over week. Keeping the fitness commitment I make to myself over the first three months of the year makes it much easier to stick to that routine the rest of the year.
Align change with your inclinations. Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning helps thousands (millions?) of people craft supportive routines to start each day off right. Adherents who find success adapt the components—SAVERS: silence (meditation), affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, scribing (journaling)—to work for themselves. They change the order and duration. They shift an element to another part of the day. Whatever change you want to incorporate, find a way to make it work for you.
Tools and Techniques. For me, a combination of apps and tools support my health objectives. My iWatch prompts me to get on my feet every hour, tracks my exercise and calories, offers feedback on sleep, and more. A new scale syncs all sorts of data—weight, muscle mass, bone density—to other apps. Calm starts my day with meditations and sends me off to sleep with stories. As you explore what does or doesn’t work, think about timing. One interesting experience for me involves the app My Fitness Pal. I tried this previously and just couldn’t stick with all the logging of food. After a few years’ gap, I restarted. This time, using MFP has “stuck.” The app’s function didn’t change; I did. Consider that something which didn’t work before might support you now because your needs have changed over time.
Backtrack to what worked before. Earlier this year, I published the LeadUP! Conversations interview with best-selling bestselling author, Jeff Goins (watch here, read more here). When our conversation touched on the topic, he shared “When you find yourself heading towards a destination and the road is a dead end … don’t be afraid to turn around, backtrack a few miles, find the latest fork and take the other way.” When we find ourselves at a place where our personal or professional life isn’t working, think about when we last felt in sync, in flow. Assess what we’re doing differently now and how we can return to the actions that created success.
Employ incremental change. Several experts suggest trying the tiny. Seeing out small change (getting 1% better) that sticks over time and continually increasing by adding more small change creates big improvements in the aggregate. An example is making the commitment to write a single page every day. In less than a year, we’ve written 300 pages of content for a book! Two resources include Tiny Habits (B. J. Fogg) and Atomic Habits (James Clear). Find an overview of these here: Embrace the Tiny and Atomic Reboot.
Finally, a successful pivot often demands resilience, an essential for overcoming obstacles to desired change. Resilience supports our ability to bounce back from setbacks and to persevere in the face of challenges. By cultivating resilience, we can develop an integrated agility of body, mind, and spirit needed to achieve our goals.
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