Pivoting Positively: Taking Risks and Kicking Ass! Part 1


Making the decision to leave something, whether it is a job, a company, a bad relationship or an entire industry, can be stressful. “Is it even worth it?” you ask. In fact, most times this is the main reason people don’t leave a situation. Those who are re-evaluating their own well-being and deciding they need to change, for one reason or another, seek ways to minimize risk, or make change with no, or little-to-no, pain. Transition just isn’t that easy, though, and some are swept away through the indecision path. “It’s out of my control,” you tell yourself. Instead, using positive coping mechanisms and approaches to change can be a good way to handle a pivot. Timing, planning, and knowing what you want at the gut level allows you to prepare for any pivot you think might be coming and even those unexpected ones, too. Because there are always unexpected ones.


Knowing what is in your gut vs. annoying anxiety (or the negative voice in your head) can be hard. Using this SMART Risk technique may be helpful to you in developing a stronger idea of your next steps. Taking a SMART risk allows you to have a better perspective, even if the change wasn’t exactly the perfect pivot. The risks you may want to avoid involve jumping blindly (such as acting or reacting quickly or making a decision that doesn’t feel right or others warn you against) into a new thing. Most people need to take a series of smaller pivots in order to make a large pivot. This allows for evaluation and time for you to create a proper response.

But, what do I mean by a SMART risk? Try this on for size: these are risks that involve your skills motivated to hit the right target. One that you “feel” good about… you weigh the options, you look over the cliff and see what the outcome might look like, you ask your two best advisors and then you… Leap.

Jumping with a Net…

“Leap and the Net will appear” is one of my favorite quotes! Following your instincts can be easy to say but hard to do. First, let’s make sure you know the difference between your gut feeling, or instinct, and other feelings. Anxiety can come from the gut, too. Before making a big decision, make sure your anxiety is in check. Each stressful situation will bring some stress (and some anxiety), but breathing through it, meditating on it, or talking though it with a therapist or doctor can provide you an anxiety-free, decision-making process.

GUT Check

Next, try some easy decisions, and check your instincts to see if they work for you. But eventually, you have to listen to yourself and take a chance. Learn to identify how you feel, so when you are in a stressful situation, you can sort out the feelings running through your brain. Now, identify the steps needed to attain your latest goal. Run through the list and perform a gut check. Stop and listen. But also identify anxiety, fear of the unknown, and excitement. And don’t forget that some tasks are just hard, that doesn’t mean they are wrong.

And then….

Leap… just do it! In fact, none of the pivots really include a completely safe journey; you MUST leap. If it’s more comfortable for you, take a series of small steps to get to the end game. You will need to actually move to that new city. You will agree to take a risk and try a new position and build new skills at the same time. You need to actually trust people and accept love into your life again after being hurt. Leap. It must happen for a pivot to occur.

Practice Pivoting

Here’s a small exercise for you to try:

Let’s practice leaping so it doesn’t feel foreign. First, imagine that most perfect acrobatic leap in your head—the beginning, how straight your legs are while you are in the air, and, most importantly, how you are going to land. Imagining a perfect landing is key! Because when you land you want firm footing, not a rolled ankle. Imagine success and prepare your brain for change.

And let’s talk about that net. Having faith that it’s there is key—that net may come in the form of friendships, financial savings, commitment from your spouse to support you, or even the internal confidence you need to boldly follow a new path (so when you’re ready, you don’t fake out and fall; you don’t stop and start because you don’t know how; you feel the support you need in order to take the risk). Leaping, in all honesty, is the single most difficult part. So make a list of what your “net” needs to be and work towards building a net that allows you to jump and pivot up onto your next step in your path of success. Share your success with others to encourage others to take the Leap when it’s time for them.

Stay tuned until next time for Part 2 on this topic!

Kim Kleeman