Career Pivot, Game Change or Radical Shift

Jade Graham
Sep 3, 2019 · 5 min read
Looking the part for a career pivot can help matters massively

Picture this: you’re waking up to another day at the office, in a job you can no longer stand. You’re faced with hours of meetings that achieve, well, very little. Chunks of time spent hunched over a laptop, editing ‘death by powerpoint’ slides, conference calls with one too many agenda points and a seemingly bottomless inbox that just won’t quit. If this sounds like a typical ‘day in the life of you’, then you’re far from being alone.

Increasing numbers of professionals at all stages of career are looking for a change; from pivots to new roles, through to more radical shifts and the creation of brand new careers altogether. Fancy starting-up a surf shack off the coast of Cornwall anyone?

It transpires though, that of all the top-rated career trends in 2019 — Knowing how to ‘pivot’ and ‘pivot smart’, is ranked up there with flexible working, equal pay and the rise of the digital nomad. But why are so many professionals feeling the need to career pivot anyway?

For many, careers are best described as ‘fallen into’. A recent report by Bloomberg’s work wise, documented how scores of young professionals gravitate towards careers modelled by their parents, adult family members or friends. The chances are, if you’re from a family of lawyers, then it’s highly likely you’ll end up ‘loving the law’ too, ahead of embarking on that line of work. Or at least for a time, whilst you’re figuring out a sense of personal identity.

Although the reality is, that when you’re influenced by the career paths forged by those around you. You’re not fully engaging with your own personal passions, which are as unique to you as your individual fingerprint. It’s no wonder then, that so many working professionals are citing feelings of being stuck and in some cases at a complete loss in their working lives. It’s clear that career decisions made whilst on autopilot are having serious implications on emotional well being and stress levels.

But how do you make the change from a career you can no longer stand, to one where the work is more closely aligned to your personal ambitions and true sense of self? Making the move doesn’t have to be scary, it just takes a little deep work, contemplation, planning and the top five pointers on career pivot success.

What’s behind the desire to move? Does the motivation come from a place of aspiration or desperation? Are you ready to pivot because you’ve simply outgrown where you are? Or are there more challenging motivators, like a terrible boss or crappy team mates at play? Knowing what the desire to pivot is driven by, will help you both emotionally and mentally acknowledge the issues and address by taking affirmative steps to action.

Now it’s time to think about what you do want, what does ‘great’ look like for you? What aspects of your current role, if any, are working for you? It could be the sector you’re currently in or the types of projects you’re getting to work on, it could even come down to the dynamic of your current team or management style that works. Whatever makes the sum total, of ‘great’, by focusing on these aspects, you can begin to map out the design phase of your next role and what this looks like.

A pivot typically continues the career path you’re currently on. But changes up a core aspect, like transforming from an employee to become a freelancer. Or staying in the field of say, marketing, but moving from corporate to working in not for profit. The vehicle remains the same, but the pivot results in a change to trajectory and direction.

A radical shift though usually involves an altogether game change; switching from a career in data science or corporate research, to becoming an artisan cheesemaker or yoga instructor. Radical changes are often, but not always, bought on by a period of self-discovery following a significant life change. Changes that can range redundancy, health scares, relationship changes or even becoming a parent, can all provide great catalysts for making a radical shift.

Wherever the motivation has come from, be it thanks to increased self-awareness or personal discovery. Taking action to harness the momentum is key. Doing the initial work to acknowledge your reasons is step one, but taking action is the real game-changer resulting in the career change outcome you crave.

Everything from reading personal development books, to listening to inspirational podcasts can prompt thoughts into action. There’s no shortage of people, from all walks of life, who have successfully made the switch to a brand new and more fulfilling career path and are openly sharing how they did it. From those who have taken a side hustle — passion project, into a successful full-time company. To those who have altered their working lifestyle, to one more closely aligned to their interests and long-held career dreams.

Never make a decision in a crisis is the adage here. Remember point 1 about getting clear on motivations. If this move is being made out of desperation rather than aspiration, then the risks of jumping from one role to another, that could well work out to be the wrong fit for you, is heightened. There’s a fine balance between harnessing the momentum of extrinsic motivation and rushing the process. Which could, in turn, result in you being back where you started on the itch to switch front.

Asking yourself the following questions will help build a picture of the expected time frame and add clarity to how quickly a move will occur. What additional training will you need? What does your financial cushion need to look like? How long will it take to build a network into the career community you’re looking to move to? Or, do you have everything in place already, and if so, what, if anything, is holding you back?

Bringing It All Together

A move now is likely not to be the last in your career. Our working lives are longer than any generation gone before us and the days of a career for life are long past their prime. The expansive forces of the internet, social media and greater access to knowledge, ideas and options that our parents could only have dreamed of, mean that our personal career horizons are extended to realms we may never have contemplated if we were career-building 10 years ago. As a result, portfolio careers are on the increase, and having multiple strings, roles or career paths to our bow, are increasingly becoming the norm.

The likelihood being, that any pivot, game change, or radical shift today, could well form the blueprint for a future filled with change.

Jade Graham is the founder & Chief Talent Officer of Inspired a people consultancy and career coaching boutique agency in the UK. As a working Mom of one, her passion for making companies more flexible & inspiring places to work is fuelled by a passion for people.

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Jade Graham

Written by

Management Consulting & Coaching — Passionate About People, Women's Empowerment, Women in Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion and Gender Equity.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +800K followers.

Jade Graham

Written by

Management Consulting & Coaching — Passionate About People, Women's Empowerment, Women in Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion and Gender Equity.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +800K followers.

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