What comes to your mind when you read the title of this article?  Is it the commonly used term for a basketball fundamental?  Or is it the “Friends” episode with Ross and the sofa? 

Dictionary.com had 14 definitions for the word.  My favorite is #6:  “a change in policy, opinion, product design, etc., that retains some continuity with its previous version, especially as part of a strategy to appeal to a different audience.”  

Over the course of my life so far, I’ve chosen to pivot myself several times. The biggest pivot occurred after the death of my parents and my husband in a 22-month time span. No longer a daughter or a wife, for the first time ever I was just ME. I floundered for a while before pivoting into what’s turned out to be my life’s purpose, to become a Mediator. Yes, I pivoted by reinventing myself. And those of you who have ever had a conversation with me might recall that I have strong opinions about reinvention. I think it’s a privilege, and anyone can do it at any age.

What about you? Are you a parent, a spouse, a partner, an employee, a sibling, a cousin, a team member? Do all those labels comprise your identity? When one label changes, how does it affect the rest? Does your identity begin and end with your occupation? I hope not, because what happens when, either by choice or by default, your occupation changes? Does your identity change as well?

Is the time right for you to pivot?  Now what? Here are some steps to give you an advantage:

Step #1: Ditch the labels. Your identity is much greater than a single label, so it’s probably not a good idea to limit yourself.

Step #2: Find a mentor. Look for someone who’s lived a little so that you can learn from his/her experience.

Step #3: Have some patience. You may not have a passion when you begin to pivot. Or, you may be super-passionate, but the pivot isn’t happening fast enough.

Step #4: Hurry up. I know I just told you to be patient. At the same time, you probably won’t get badly hurt if you get on with it before the world (or the opportunity) passes you by. Visualization is great, and so is action.

Step #5: Read books. I cannot emphasize this enough. Reading makes you smarter. Smarter people are generally more successful. Does it matter what you read? You have to decide for yourself.

Step #6: Make your weaknesses your strengths. If you’re an introvert, remember to be a good listener and a relentless observer.

If and when you pivot, are you messing with your identity? Maybe.  From my own pivoting experience, I know that my life’s actual path has been nowhere close to what I imagined it would be. My identity has evolved and hopefully will continue to evolve as I learn, grow, experience, and change.

Pivoting along the way is not about my identity. It’s about my biography.