How to pivot in your career

September 28, 2018

Making a change in your career for more challenges or responsibilities should be a deliberate choice. But how do you go about doing it? Read on...

When people talk about millennials hopping jobs, they mean young adults who try different jobs to find work that ticks numerous checklists. Millennials are the “young” generation everyone loves to hate even when the oldest millennial today is nearing 40. The truth is that those born in the late 70s or after, look at the world differently - they are well-networked, tech savvy and are more often than not chasing purpose or impact, not just a pay cheque. The desire for more brings with itself a go-getter mind-set and a need to pivot - or make a change when you feel that you’ve reached a point in your career when you are ready for more impact, challenges, or responsibilities.

For me, work is about purpose and I believe that, sometimes, it’s the pivoting that takes you closer to your purpose.

Take Twitter, for example. Before it became the beast that changed world politics, it was imagined as a podcasting app, Odeo. But when Apple iTunes moved into podcasting, Odeo’s team bowed out. It pivoted to fully embrace the 140-character side project. Numerous investors backed out and missed out on one of the biggest opportunities of the past decade. Twitter’s example adds renewed relevance to one of my favourite adages: If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.

Pivoting in your career could be the best thing you do to yourself.  The question is how do you do it?

Change Mind-set: The Never Good Enough Problem

I have worked with numerous millennials who are unsure about not just their work but also about their feelings around it. They think that their dissatisfaction stems from their unmatchable expectations. It’s a double-edged sword: They think they aren’t good enough and that they will never find something good enough. This attitude is problematic. Each of us must evaluate what we are and where we want to be. If then, you have a nagging feeling that you’re not where you should be, listen. What others say can inform you, it shouldn’t influence you. Use your intuition to know if it’s time for change.

Have a defined action plan before you pivot your career

Pivot early

When you’re young, you have more time to make mistakes. Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran, for example, says she worked 22 jobs before she was 23. She was a babysitter, a waitress, a receptionist before finding real estate. She is now a millionaire. The message of fail fast never gets old. But this doesn’t mean that you cannot pivot later in your career.

Use self-awareness

Even if you’ve been working for some years, there must be a significant reason that is making you think about pivoting. Explore that thought. But aimlessly changing jobs might not be the answer.

Are you seeking mentorship, work-life harmony or increased responsibility? Do you want to develop a new expertise or a life of thrill? You’re not accountable to your boss or your family, but yourself. Develop a clear idea, a map of sorts, of what you want to do and chase that with resilience, perseverance and grit.

Go back to mentors and seek mentors

The pressure of finding a purpose or the world’s best job (if there’s anything like that) often scares it away. Sometimes, it’s in unlikely places, in unexpected situations and perhaps even in the job you’ve doing all along. But if you’re thinking of starting afresh and are not quite sure about what, go back to a school teacher who knew you as a child. Ask him/her to tell you how you were and what your core strengths and skills were. Use their advice to reconnect with yourself and what you should do. Additionally, seek new mentors. Reach out to people and request for their time. Often when we’re thinking of pivoting, we’re thinking of looking at life in a new way, like those we admire do. Why not ask for help and find inspiration along the way?

Ask yourself: Will you learn?  

Of course, you need a defined action plan before you pivot but I don’t mean long-term or short-term plans, instead, a plan to learn and grow. A short-term plan could be to work to get promoted but maybe that lost its charm along the way. Instead, ask yourself: will I learn? Grow? Contribute? Will I acquire new skills that help me and those around me? Plan and observe your learning curve and use that to pivot, to enter a playground that would be fulfilling at an intellectual level.

Finally, ACT

I know that pivoting can fill you with great dread but if you’ve honestly reflected upon what you do, used self-awareness, advice of mentors, and feel sure that you want a different, more fulfilling career, there’s nothing left to do except taking the plunge. There will never be a perfect time. If you’re close to change, don’t deny it. Remember that pivoting, like other job changes, isn’t about finding the best career but about exploring, about living and allowing yourself the opportunity to explore.

(This content is from Thrive Global)

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