5 tips on how to pivot successfully
Almost everyone has been there at least once in their lives: you wake up and the vision of going to work makes you wish the alarm had never gone off. Doing your job feels painfully futile. You literally hate it and don’t have any hope for a brighter future in your company. Coming back home the only thing you can think of is how miserable you are. And you won’t shut up about it too. If you continue this way you risk a mental breakdown and losing all your friends (if there are still any survivors of your constant lamenting).
You could apply to be moved to a different department or look for a similar job elsewhere. But sometimes this is simply not enough. You need a real change.
Don’t despair. Many have been there before you and proven that it’s doable*. Buckle up, here’s what you need to do it right:
1. Make a decision and commit to it.
Many people say they want to change something in their lives. The thing is that most of them never do anything about it. Complaining is easier than action, so remember:
If you want to change something in your life, you’ve got to change something in your life.
Before we proceed, you should probably answer yourself these questions:
- Do you want a career pivot?
- Are you ready to work for it?**
If you got at least one “no”, perhaps you can find more relevant articles out there. Like this one for instance, teaching you how to build a coffee maker (practical, huh?). Otherwise, please continue reading.
2. Make a plan. Test it. Adjust. Repeat.
This is where you become a Project Manager of your own career. Congratulations. To be successful in this new role, you need a plan. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to change it along the way — on the contrary. Change is often necessary to obtain the best possible results. There are always factors you can’t foresee and so you’re forced to build your plan on (better or worse informed) assumptions.
The process is relatively simple and has its roots in the lean thinking:
As you are likely to know more in the future than you do right now, your plan should always remain open to change. The revision should be a result of a review of what went wrong and what could be improved.
3. Quit your current job.
However reckless this doesn’t sound, quitting your current job — although requires some preparation beforehand — brings on a number of benefits:
- You have more time to really focus on your plan. No more excuses. Just get to work.
- Depending on how worn out your job got you, quitting it might feel revitalizing. So in addition to extra time, you get more energy to tackle the challenge too.
- Unless you have a ton of savings, quitting your job by necessity provides you with a deadline, and it’s no secret that the majority of us works most efficiently under a reasonable amount of pressure.
- No back-up plan makes it harder to go back, which can work to your advantage as an added motivation when things don’t look great. You have to make it happen somehow.
4. Do not give up.
This point might be the hardest of the pack. The day you make up your mind and commit might be glorious and very satisfactory. You finally feel like you found your purpose. But then comes the reality. The course you signed up for turns out to be useless and overpriced. A friend who was supposed to put you in touch with the hiring manager is postponing it endlessly. Nobody replies to your job applications. People who do reply only do so to remind you that you’re not qualified / experienced enough (and let’s face it: they’re mostly right).
Keeping your motivation high is absolutely necessary for your success. There’s a couple of things that might help you though:
- Remember that it’s your own goal. Nobody set it for you, you chose it, so it’s probably something that inspires or attracts you. You just need to remember it.
- Don’t be too harsh on yourself — setting realistic expectations makes your win more accessible.
- Focus. It’s easy to say you spent the whole day sending out CVs, whereas what you rally did for most of the time was pointless scrolling.
- Make an agenda for each day and stick to it as closely as possible. Even if you already quit your job and have plenty of time, stay organized. Make small, achievable to-do lists and try to clear them before the end of day.
5. Keep the right people around you.
When things get rough and you fail to find motivation within yourself, the right people around you might just save your plan.
Firstly, avoid people who question the integrity of what you’re trying to do. Believe me, you’ll question it yourself enough. Also those who are negative by nature won’t do you any good.
It doesn’t mean that you need a group of cheerleaders. One will do. Whether it be your partner, mom, best friend or a colleague you met on that overpriced course. You need someone who will cut you some slack and provide a bit of objectivity to your evaluation of current events. Things are often not as gloomy as they appear from the inside of your head. And if they are, a bit of detachment might just let your cheerleader help you with your plan revision.
Have you gone through a career change yourself and have some tips to share?
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*Do not confuse with “easy”.
**Are you sure?