How do you determine what to do next?

Goodness — this has been a challenging season of life! Which is why as we emerge from months of COVID-induced work and life, there seem to be more questions than answers.

As I coach people who range from executives to moms, IT programmers to broadcasters, government officials and anywhere in between — I’m witnessing more upheaval in what each person is pondering about life and work through this newly defined post-pandemic era.

You might be launching a search for a new job because you lost your position through the pandemic. You may be asked to return to the workplace and you’re not sure that’s something you want to do anymore. You may have the option to continue working remotely, but you desperately want to connect with people in an office. Or you might be giving up on the work you’ve done for years, maybe decades, but aren’t sure what to do next.

Whether your situation involves an unexpected loss in position or life, or whether you have decided now’s the time to make a substantial change, you are at a crossroads.

Even when you feel like pretty much everything is out of your control, there is something you can control. Your perspective. Which defines how you respond. When you examine your options with a fresh perspective, you are ready for a pivot. I’m going to share a few ideas with you on how your values can influence what you do next. But first…

What’s A Pivot?

My three grown sons play basketball — and for more than a decade, I spent hours watching them compete on teams in middle school, high school and college gyms throughout the country. Playing basketball requires that you pivot, which is when a player keeps one foot on the ground and uses their other foot to rotate their body while in possession of the basketball.

Credit: www.rookieroad.com/basketball/101/pivoting

Part of the reason a pivot is so powerful is because one foot stays on the ground. There’s something about rotating with the loose foot, so to speak, that offers a sense of connection even when you change direction.

My sons’ ability to physically pivot on the court translates to the way one of my clients, “Tina,” used a layoff after 30 years in one job to train for a position she knew would secure her career for 10 more years. Or the way “Jim” recognized that the company he founded was heading for disaster so he updated a technical certification and landed a high level consulting position. Throughout the pandemic, “Lisa” found herself driving for hours to be near her aging parents, so when her lease was up on her apartment, she chose to move closer to them and start over in a new home with a new job.

As their coach, I get it. When my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s some ten years ago, I pivoted from a career in broadcasting. It took several years to find my footing, and when I emerged I did so with a new path as a life coach. This shift allows me to still express that ‘people are my passion’ because I have the privilege of asking questions, actively listening and partnering with someone who wants more out of life and work. The pivot I made was filled with trial and error, lots of uncertainty and required me to decide how I wanted to thrive in this season of my life.

Pivot in 3 Steps

You are not alone in wondering how you want to spend the next few years or decades. And if you’re considering a pivot, here are three steps to get you started.

1. Check in with your values.

When you’re aligned with what means most to you, it’s easier to determine what to do next. One of the best ways I’ve discovered to accomplish that is with a values inventory. There are a number of free assessments that will give you a sense of which values resonate most to you. The results may help you confirm whether your current position offers you the ability to work with integrity. Or you may determine that it’s time to pivot with fresh options that align more strongly with who you are.

2. Consider how you enjoy working.

Let’s say you’ve been in your career for some time. How does it resonate with the way you want to live five years from now? Maybe you’re thrilled with where you are and can see yourself doing this for the foreseeable future. Or maybe this is the time to think about doing something that aligns more with how you want to work. Do you thrive in your home office or are you longing to be in an office surrounded by colleagues? What makes you the most productive? These are good questions to help you pivot.

3. What skills can you bring to a new position?

You may have skills that you simply aren’t using in the profession you now hold. That’s the beauty of the pivot. After taking a character strengths assessment, you might discover how you love to create things, possess amazing resilience, communicate without fear and have an ability to determine the motives and feelings of others. If they show up in what you’re doing right now, terrific. If not, lean into these strengths, you might have just what you need to jumpstart a pivot in your life or career.

Embrace the Pivot

When you begin to step into how you want to live, using your values and strengths as your guide, you will hit obstacles. Believe me, people you thought supported you will remind you that you’ve always done things a certain way, so why mess it up now? Hearing that may give you pause. But if you’re still ready to make a shift, remember: their opinion is their opinion. Thank you. What will work for you?

You may have a position or be in a profession that you launched years ago — and you’ve decided to examine whether your values are lining up with the way you live and work. You’re a morning person and realize that working the overnight shift has restricted your most creative and productive time. You find you have an appreciation of beauty and excellence and you’ve never considered tapping into that strength — until now.

That shift in perspective is your clue: you are taking charge of what you thought was out of your control, and finding what is within your realm of possibility. You are beginning a journey that will open up new ways of thinking, working and living. And because you’re pivoting, you get to stay loose and connected at the same time — whatever direction you choose.

Originally posted on loismelkonian.medium.com