TIB #7: Pivot or Persevere – a way to course correct life

Written by Arno Jansen

It is a familiar feeling, I am sure. Like an itch in your brain, or a knot in your stomach. Something is not right and you know it. Maybe you are bored at work, maybe you have an issue with the love of your life. Maybe you are facing illness. What do you do when you face situations like that? 

Don’t worry, I am not going to tell you to “get after it” or “never quit”. Nor am I trying to convince you to “change it up” as soon as you have one bad day. 

What I am saying is: Do you know yourself? Are you aware of the way YOU deal with obstacles and resilience in life? Do you know when to pivot or persevere?

Simply put: If your life, or an aspect of it, is on the wrong track, it may be time to pivot. If you are confident you are on the right track: persevere. 

Do you know what track you are on? 

Let’s look at work as an example

The internet is filled advise that tells you to simply quit your job if it does not make you smile every day. Work should be amazing, you should be changing lives, making an impact. 

Nonsense.

The truth is, there are other ways to look at work. For most of us, work is a way to make money. Money is to life, what fuel is to a car. It keeps you going. The money enables you to live the rest of your life the way you see fit. Spend time with the family, enjoy friends, whatever you like. 

Some would say that you are accepting mediocrity; I say you found a nice way to live your life. Everything in life ebs and flows, so does work. So there are times you have to put in more effort. There may be projects that do not light you up. You may want to persevere in those moments. 

If you are in a 6-figure job that is eating away at your soul, requires you to work 16 hour days, 7 days a week, it is a different story. If this is you, you know it. Take a moment now to realise how you know this is you. Where do you feel it? Headache? Back pain? Knot in your stomach? Insomnia? Stress eating? 

If you are wearing golden handcuffs, it is very hard to get them off. Especially if you know deep down, that what you really want to do will bring in (a lot) less money. 

Making such a change may have a big impact on your lifestyle, relationships, etc. So you keep things the way they are. The itch can be suppressed temporarily but it will probably not go away and you will slowly start to hate your job more and more, despite the money you make. You may want to consider a pivot.

If only it were that simple

These are very clear cut examples of course. Most of the time, resistance manifests itself as uneasy, murky feelings inside you. It may not even be clear to you now, what is causing that feeling. 

Work, relationships, finances, health, can all be sources of unrest. First step is to figure out what is the cause of that unrest. You have to know what you are fighting against. Only then can you figure out if you should pivot or persevere. The final step is to figure out what pivotting or persevering actually looks like in your situation.

Help yourself: A small reflection routine

Change is a process, not an event. To start the process of unraveling, start doing this small 30-day reflection routine: 

  • Find a moment in your day to write one or two sentences to reflect
  • You can reflect at the end of the day looking back
  • Or at the start of the day ahead
  • Name at least 1 thing (but no more than 3) you enjoyed or are looking forward to. 
  • Name at least 1 thing (but no more than 3) you disliked or are dreading. 
  • Keep this up every day for 30 days. Try not to skip a day
  • If you do miss one day, don’t miss 2. Otherwise you greatly increase the chances that you will abandon the practice altogether.

Do not force yourself into writing whole pages every day, but if you feel the urge to put an insight into words, please do so. The act of writing it down alone, will provide mental clarity. In my experience, reading back what you have written, is usually optional. Although it can help to spot pattern.

By writing down only a few things, you ensure that you are limiting the effort you are putting in. Limiting the effort, increases the likeliness that you will continue doing it. 

How to make this reflection routine stick?

Best way to make this stick, is to “attach” this exercise to an existing, reliable step in your daily routine. For example: Do this reflection routine, right after you finish brushing your teeth. That way, you a solid prompt to keep doing this.

After a few days or weeks, you will start to see patterns. Keep going though, to add more detail and clarity. 

Once you see the pattern clearly, you know what you are up against. Once you know what you are up against, you can find ways to deal with it.

An example outcome

Looking at work again, you may find that you enjoy your work in general, but certain people, projects or procedures are causing your unrest. What started as an “I don’t like my job, maybe I should quit” feeling, may actually be fixed by you changing the way you deal with the specific issue at work. If you you discover you are getting bored , but the company is awesome, it is time to step into a new job role.

If you find you enjoy the perks, but can no longer align with the company’s mission and vision, no amount of bean bags will make you feel better.

Do you know what to do?

Do you know if you should pivot or persevere? Did you discover a pattern, a source of unrest? Please be open and share your experience in the comments! It helps motivate others to address their gremlins. You might change a life that way.

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