Considering a Career Change? DON'T!
How to Pivot Your Career - Be More Fulfilled
Without Having to Start From Scratch
I once attended a workshop where the speaker said something that really stuck with me – high performers will generally have high turnover in your organization.
At first that made no sense to me, but after thinking it through it made absolute sense. To those who despise mediocrity and continually seek to conquer the next challenge and the next challenge, turnover makes sense.
This type of individual will not tolerate poor leadership or false promises of advancement; they actively seek opportunities either inside, or outside the organization if needed, to meet their ultimate career goals.
This might sound like you – frequently reaching a ‘boredom plateau’ in your role, always seeking the next challenge and newest opportunity. Someone who is not satisfied with the status quo, but looking to build their skillset and challenging their perceived ceilings.
You are not alone!
But rather than changing careers or changing jobs as many usually do, I would encourage you to simply make a pivot. Pivot seems to be the newest buzz word these days, but unpacking this concept just might be exactly what you are looking for.
And you don’t have to wait or use a long drawn-out process like you would with changing careers or jobs. You can start today!
Why a career pivot?
Changing careers can be a drastic move, generally requiring you to completely start from scratch.
Although that might sound exciting to some, it might not be the best strategy. The investment in skills you’ve worked toward might not easily translate to your next career; and your network might not either.
Alternatively - changing jobs might simply be a result of poor leadership, the desire of more money, or a better title. It may not be enough of a change, or the right change to help with your ultimate career goals and happiness.
Somewhere in between changing careers and changing jobs is the concept of a pivot; a slight tweak to double down on your strongest skills. A pivot can leverage your career momentum and the skills you’ve already developed toward a more fulfilling role.
You might even consider this like job crafting, where you break down your role and align it to propel you toward your personal goals.
Of course, none of this comes easily. But if you truly do the work, you might be surprised at the results and how your employer will also see the benefits of a more engaged employee.
I am not claiming to be an expert on any of these topics.
My goal when writing this article was to simply share some lessons learned from my personal experience and make you aware of the challenges I’ve seen my friends and colleagues encounter.
Ultimately, I want you to consider some questions you may not have considered. Doing so will help you determine the best next steps in your career journey.
First, some homework...
Before you can pivot, you need to understand why you’ve reached this point of conflict.
It’s important that you always understand and embrace your personal values, if you wish to achieve authentic and lasting change.
Not sure what your values are?
Alyse Kalish put together a fantastic list of personality tests for the Muse you might want to checkout, and The PEAK Fleet offers their thought-provoking PEAK Values® card deck that can be used to discover what you value most.
Of course, simply asking your friends and co-works is another great place to start.
In challenging and stressful times your values are the qualities and characteristics that guide your decision making and define your focus.
There are a variety of triggers that can change circumstances where you are happy in your role originally, and now you aren’t.
The first step is to try and understand the root cause for that unhappiness. Defining what is missing now will help you identify what you are looking for in the future.
You’ll want to ask yourself…
What are your favorite things about your current role?
What do you wish you could do more of?
What would you be thrilled to no longer have to do or deal with?
Is there theme that emerge when you ask yourself these questions?
Maybe you love variety with projects, but get frustrated with mundane routine tasks.
Consider using The 5 Whys Problem-Solving Method and simply ask yourself ‘Why?’ five times to really get to the root of your joy or frustration in your current situation.
Define your pivot.
Your pivot should focus on responsibilities and job tasks you enjoy because you will be more motivated to spend resources - time, money, and energy - developing the required skills.
Think of career pivoting as a passion project of sorts.
I’m a visual person and have found it helpful to use a few tools in addition to just allowing myself to have dedicated time to daydream.
Consider a simple graph where time is your vertical axis and value is the horizontal axis. Plot all of the key tasks you perform on this graph to help you identify where you are spending your time and if it is on high-value activities.
Maybe you’d prefer to use the Eisenhower Matrix and the concept of job crafting to make immediate changes to your role by delegating or removing tasks from your plate entirely.
What’s already working?
Interview your boss, peers, and even direct reports. Remember that just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have passion for it – and that’s okay.
One year from now, what does success look like with your pivot?
What does this look like in real life?
When I first learned about the concept of career pivoting early last year (thanks to a Google Talk from Jenny Blake), I gave it some serious thought.
I wasn’t necessarily unhappy with my role but I did feel that something was missing; I had hit the boredom plateau after a year in my new role.
I was still challenged with certain technical aspects of my job, but a routine had developed. I already knew a passion of mine was learning and growth. So I started exploring options outside of work to teach as a side hustle when it dawned on me: Why wait?
In my current role, I had two direct reports. Why not double-down on what I was already successful at and dedicate more time toward teaching them?
Of course this would have many benefits in addition to fueling my passion – empowering my employees, the ability to delegate more complex tasks to them, etc.
And I’m proud to say that even with all of the impacts and changes from the COVID-19 pandemic, I still dedicate time and energy every week - even if it’s only an hour - toward this aspect of my career pivot.
I can confidently say this change has improved my team, my passion and fulfillment at work, and even my work/life balance since I’m no longer looking outside of my day job for this satisfaction.
And my next pivot, you ask?
Well as an ex-journalism major turned accountant, I’m pursuing writing again.
I hope this will be the first of many opportunities to continue to expand my skillset.
What about you – how are you going to pivot?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marissa Graves is the Director of Accounting & Finance at Sportiqe Apparel Co. a global, lifestyle apparel company, that is committed to delivering elevated basics using high-quality fabrics, innovative designs and on-trend fit that not only look and feel good, but provide superior comfort no matter the occasion.