It’s no fun when you feel like you’ve hit a roadblock in your career. It’s scary, it’s stressful, and it might even make you wonder if something’s wrong with you.
Jenny Blake—author, entrepreneur, keynote speaker and business strategist—knows the feeling.
“When I was hitting my head against the wall every two years, wondering, “What’s next?”, [I remember feeling like] there was something wrong with me, and I must be destined to be unhappy for the rest of my career,” Blake said.
After spending two years at an online political polling startup, five years at Google, and another five years running her own business, Blake started reflecting on her journey and interviewing famous authors and entrepreneurs to figure out the best practices for changing your career direction. The product of her research is thePivot Method and her second book, Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One.
I recently had the opportunity tointerview Jenny Blakeand discuss her four-step Pivot Method, which will help you decide what new career path to take when you’ve run into a wall.
1. Double Down on What’s Working
“ Once you know your strengths and what’s working, you can shift very naturally and very methodically right from where you already are instead of stretching too far outside of yourself,” Blake said.The first step of Blake’s Pivot Method is “Plant,” which is about determining what your strengths are and what’s already working in your career. Any changes you make should build upon what you’re good at and what has worked well in the past.
Think about how you won clients or customers in the past. What did they want from your business, and how did you fulfill their needs? Blake said this step gets skipped all too often, as people get excited to try something new and forget what brought them success in the first place.
2. Determine What You Want to Change
“People: who do you want to connect with?…Skills: how do you want to learn and grow in the coming year? Projects: what small experiments might you want to tackle?”Step two, “Scan,” is about deciding what you’d like to change. As you work on pinning down a new direction for your career, think about three key categories: people, skills, and projects. Blake recommended some questions to consider during this step:
Determining the people you want to work with, the skills you want to develop, and the projects you want to take on will help you pick the course of action that best fits your interests. Don’t forget about what you learned in the Plant phase, and work those considerations into your decision.
3. Execute Small Experiments
“Piloting is all about small experiments to help you test three E’s,” Blake said. “Do I enjoy this new thing? Can I become an expert at it? And is there room to expand?”The third step, “Pilot,” is your chance to perform the small projects and experiments you brainstormed during the Scan stage. Think of this as dipping your toe into the water instead of diving in head first.
If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions after running a test project, then Pilot was a success, which is a good sign that it might represent the right career move for you. If you can’t confidently answer “yes” to all the questions, you can always run a different Pilot project and see how you feel about those results.
4. Take the Leap
“You can repeat Plant, Scan, Pilot over and over until you get enough momentum that the fourth stage, Launch, is more clear. And you’ve reduced risk enough so that when you pull the trigger on the new direction, it’s a smoother transition,” Blake said.
Whether “pulling the trigger” is quitting your job, selling your business, or taking it in a new direction, you’ll be better prepared and more likely to succeed in your new venture if you’ve completed the three previous steps before moving to Launch. And following Blake’s complete four-step method when pivoting your career will cut down on your anxiety and help you make informed, calculated decisions for your future.