Knowing When To "Pivot" Your Career: My 90-Day Rule
February 7, 2013 @ 8:57 AM
In sports, “pivoting” is one of the most important staples of an athlete’s game. In basketball, it allows the player, once he/she has picked up their dribble, to still maneuver and see all the angles.
In your career, knowing when to pivot is equally important — but arguably more complicated. Off the court, how do you see all the angles? What’s the single factor that will lead you to change your life and your career? Over the years, I’ve developed my own process for knowing when it’s time to make a big change, which I call the “The 90-Day Rule.” And I apply this working theory to my life every day.
Simply put, the 90-day rule says that if you are unhappy or miserable for more than 90 consecutive days, then it’s time to make a move (i.e., pivot).
That’s three full months of being unhappy. Or if you think about it in business terms, like me, that’s one-fourth of the year — or one entire quarter that you’ve been stressed and unhappy. It makes no sense to go another 90 days; it’s time to pivot, see all the angles and assess your next move.
Once you’ve hit that 90-day mark, here are a few key next steps you’ll need to execute:
- Must your courage — the time is now. Ninety days have passed. Why waste another minute, hour, day in the situation that’s making you unhappy? Muster up the courage or faith you need, and begin to plot your next move ASAP. For example, I realized it was time to pivot when I no longer cared about a job that was paying me good money. And the disdain I had for going to work everyday made me sick…literally. Stress and unhappiness do indeed kill the mind, body and soul.
- Put bills and money aside. You must determine what makes you truly happy. Ask yourself, “If I had no monetary responsibilities, what would I do for FREE?” It might be a cliche, but this is the most honest way to figure out your true passion. Once you have determined what that is, settle on the path you need to take to get there and pull the trigger (i.e, execute). Remember, there’s never a “perfect” time to take (or create) a great opportunity. The chance to pivot and change your life and the lives of others could be standing right in front of you for only a small window of time.
- It’s OK to be the underdog. Once you’ve made your choice, don’t expect the heavens to open up so that amazing opportunities just drop into your lap without the groundwork being laid first. Be persistent, but exercise patience — and never lose faith. The world may seem against you; people from afar and people closest to you may discourage or even doubt you. However, this generally means that your next move is not just good, but great. People often fear what they won’t do or do not understand.
- Trust your body, mind and heart. Much like those wilderness guys you see on TV in extreme situations, you too must use your survival instincts in this new environment. Trust in yourself, trust your heart as you maneuver, and enjoy the ride.
- Teamwork makes your dream work. Yes, it is a cliché, but the simplicity of it holds much power. Build your network of support. Put people around you (mentors, mentees and colleagues) and create a “mastermind” group or support network. This group will be integral to your survival and success as you pivot.
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