I’ve been working on a project that just is not working. There are so many reasons, some of which are my fault, many of which are out of my control. But let’s move on. I need to pivot. It’s time to do something differently. Pivoting with this means to end that project, change the people involved, 10x my behavior with obsessive focus or something entirely different. There are probably a hundred other possibilities of ways to pivot out of the current trajectory. I am emotionally and financially in the middle of it so I can’t see all the options. I also don’t have an outside mentor or family member or consultant to provide that outsider perspective.
Everyone has stuff they get stuck in. Sometimes it’s really important to suck it up, dial-up your grit and just get through it. We are often pretty whiny and complain about how hard stuff is.
But when is it the right time to quit? When is it time to pivot? This is what I’ve been looking for since so many clients I work with (eg. parents, college kids, entrepreneurs) really struggle with this. I struggle with this.
Here are some observations. There are other times in life when pivoting is important, essential or just part of the game. People pivot playing basketball looking to pass or avoid defense. People pivot when mountain biking – an unexpected downed-tree or squirrel in the way dramatically changes things. People pivot when driving – I’m thinking of all the shredded truck tires I used to dodge when driving on I-40 around Raleigh-Durham. No time to think, just move or risk the car, bike or losing the ball.
What’s the take-home? In those instances, pivoting is reactive, requiring instinct rather than careful planning.
Pivoting in larger life issues maybe requires long-range thinking like how will this impact my family, finances, etc. I think it also requires an outside perspective (new information into the system). Pivot is moving in a different direction based off this new information (…or perspective or paradigm or assumption).
But, research is here to challenge the assumption we need to think through all big pivots.
Researchers, studying choices and life satisfaction found that people were often more satisfied and happier if they committed to making a big decision based on a coin flip.
Yes, a coin flip. A coin flip for quiting a job, ending a relationship, getting married, having kids, etc. Heads….or…..tails.
What? How the…? A coin flip takes the thinking, second-guessing, planning, sleepless nights and hands all of it over to chance. It becomes externalized, kind of like believing that God controls mudslides, getting a promotion, and whether a kid gets into Harvard. It’s no longer mine (internalized) and within my control. It’s up to something or someone else (coin or God).
So, if you need to make a hard decision, flip a coin.
If you need to pivot out of a messy situation or something complicated, get outside information from a counselor, consultant or super smart family friend.
Tomorrow – I’m finally meeting with someone to give me perspective on my pivot. Better late than never.