8 Ways to Pivot During Times of Change

Mar 31, 2020

Change is inevitable, but it can catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it. Big changes at work or in the bigger world can wreak havoc on even the best laid plans. When everything around you begins to shift, you may find yourself having to pivot in a new direction.

These shifts can be stressful and intimidating, especially if you’re moving into uncharted territory. Learning to manage change effectively can help you thrive in a transforming landscape.

Lean into new ways of addressing and working through change with the following practices:

Understand Change is Part of the Journey: We live in a dynamic, ever-evolving world. Change is part of the landscape, but when it directly impacts your life it can feel like you’re the only one in the world who’s stressing. Know you are not alone and that everyone experiences both good and challenging change along the way.

Stay Positive: Change brings uncertainty, and uncertainty can lead to fear if that energy isn’t channeled to a positive space. Find ways to bring positive perspectives into your day. Listen to uplifting music, find a good podcast, find some comedy on TV and laugh out loud.  

Increase communication: The best times call for solid communication skills. When you’re amid change, it’s important to increase both the frequency and depth of communication, especially when you’re in a fast-moving, ever-changing environment. Reach out with questions, provide frequent updates, check in with others and ask for feedback to ensure you’re in the loop and have the latest information.

Evaluate the new landscape: As things change the landscape around you also shifts to reveal new ways of working and being. As you assess the situation around you, keep a lookout for:

  • Opportunities: Change often reveals new opportunities and new ways of viewing old opportunities. Has the new situation created new needs for your audience? Is the current way of creating or delivering your product becoming obsolete in the new normal? Has this change created an entirely new market or audience that needs what you have?
  • What to Pause and What to Stop: As things around you change, you may have projects that no longer make sense. Some of these may not make sense for ‘right now’ but will get back on track later. Some projects may become completely irrelevant and need to be reevaluated. Before investing further time and effort into unnecessary work, make a list of the things you should pause on during the transition, as well as a list of projects and goals that need to be permanently shelved. Drop what is no longer relevant to make room for the new opportunities that are cropping up.
  • New players: Change can also mean a shift in resources and business models. Get to know new people who are coming into your environment as a result of change. For example, when departments consolidate you gain new coworkers, or new people are hired to take on increasing workloads. Be sure to also keep a lookout for new competitors. Change breeds creativity and you may notice new businesses rising to meet a new need or increased market demand.

Accept What You Can’t Control | Focus on What You Can: There are aspects of change that are beyond your control and you can drive yourself and those around you crazy trying to control the uncontrollable. This route often descends into negativity and complaining while precious time ticks by and nothing gets done. Take a moment to come to terms with the uncontrollable and make a choice to focus on areas where you can make a difference. Focusing on what is within your control pivots you into a positive space where meaningful work, productivity and progress can happen.

Maintain human connection: Stay connected to family, friends and coworkers during times of change. A network of support for yourself and others who are going through the same experience can help reduce stress. Having a community of like-minded people also allows you to lift each other when you’re down and needing encouragement – and it reminds you that you are not alone.

Have a Plan: Instead of reacting to change with fear, panic or useless action, focus on creating a plan to deal with the situation. The process of planning helps focus energy and effort. It puts you in a position to address the issue head-on instead of blindly reacting. When you create your plan, consider the following:

  • Be a Possibility Thinker: Instead of focusing on the things that are ending, focus on the possibilities and potential for new ways of working and connecting.
  • Connect with New People: Seek out people with diverse opinions and backgrounds. They may see potential where you never thought to look. Bring new people into the conversation and connect to the creative energy of others.
  • Get Outside Your Comfort Zone: Embrace new ideas and new ways of doing things. The unfamiliar is often outside of what you’re used to and can feel awkward at first. Learn to get uncomfortable and start exploring new ideas. Remember, big progress and growth happens outside your comfort zone.

Practice Self-care: Change, even when it’s good change, is stressful. Counter stress and burnout by practicing self-care. If you’re not able to help yourself and end up burnt out and sick, you won’t be able to help anyone else.

  • Be Kind to Yourself: Change means that a lot of new things are coming your way. Don’t put the added pressure on yourself to be perfect during this time. Practice self-compassion and be forgiving of mistakes and stumbles. Keep in mind you are learning and growing along the way. It’s okay to treat yourself with kindness in the process.
  • Address Your Physical Needs: The added stress of change means that instead of skipping meals, you need to double-down on eating healthy, nutritious food. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night and carve out time for some type of exercise every day.
  • Set Boundaries: The added workload of addressing a changing environment, means you are going to have to say ‘no’ to some things. Set firm boundaries around what you can and cannot do during this time. Decline tasks and projects that don’t move the needle, steer clear of busywork and other people’s emergencies. Focus on what you need to accomplish to be successful during times of change.

Remember that all things will eventually settle, and a new landscape will emerge from change. Ride the wave and stay on top of your change experience with the ideas listed above. You will come out the other side of your experience stronger, wiser, and more resilient than you started.

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