Pivot or Jump: Planning Your Next Career Move

For most of us 2020 has felt like the year of the unexpected. There have been many shifts and changes in the way we work and live. Typically, in times when it may feel like the ground is shifting beneath our feet, you often hear people say that they “pivoted.” 

But, personally, I am a fan of the “jump.” A jump feels momentous and intentional, you have to do it with confidence, knowing where and how you will land. A jump takes planning and commitment and sends you flying in a new direction. 

If you are planning your next big move or you find yourself in a season of change, here are a few points to consider as you think about whether a pivot or a jump is the right move for you. 

Assess the Risk

I always say one of the biggest differentiators between a pivot and a jump is the risk factor. Pivots often imply a bit of a safe move, a shift in direction but still generally on the same path. It’s possibly a reaction to a roadblock or a change, and so you adjust course to keep moving forward. 

If you’re jumping, it’s risky. A jump typically implies taking a leap of faith toward a destination you’ve never been to before.

Know Your Goals

In my career, I always made jumps as I worked my way up the corporate ladder. I think the idea of a pivot has become somewhat of a catchphrase. It seems big, especially if you interpret a pivot to be an about-face, but I think if you are chasing a  BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal), a jump is the right move to make. 

Ask yourself this question, “Is there a clear path from where I am to where I want to go?” If the answer is yes – pivot, if it’s no, it’s time to jump! 

If you aren’t sure, consider this scenario. If you are a teacher, and you move from teaching in a classroom to being a school principal, that would be a pivot. This is undoubtedly a big step, and one to celebrate, but it does not represent a major change in your environment or your field, although the move might be scary because the responsibilities have increased.   

However, if you’re a teacher and you decide to join the peace corps and travel to distant lands to help children learn to read English, that would be a career jump. You’d still be working with children, but it’s a scary step that would take a lot of courage because you’re completely changing your environment, your working conditions and a variety of other factors that you may not have experience with.

Another example of a jump would be a teacher who becomes an accountant or a lawyer (like me!). These jumps represent moves to completely different fields, different subject matter, different clientele, and in the end, a totally different career path.  

Be Intentional

I believe all career moves are (or should be) intentional. I also believe all moves are good moves if you are ready for them and willing to invest the time and energy in making them a success. 

Don’t Settle

Don’t settle for a pivot when you really should be making a jump. If we settle early on, we may limit our options in the future because we passed up an earlier risk that might have paid off in a big way.

Alpha Advice for your Next Career Jump

My biggest piece of advice: do your homework. Research as much as you can about what you are considering, take time to talk to other women who have done the same things. 

Above all else – make your own decisions about your jump. it’s yours, and yours alone, and you should decide whether it’s right for you.

Jumps To Inspire You

If you need a little inspiration for your next jump, there are plenty of well-known Alpha Women who have done it with great success. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg made the jump from professor to judge to Justice of the Supreme Court.   

Hillary Rodham Clinton made the jump from lawyer to Presidential political candidate to U.S. Secretary of State.

Michelle Obama made the jump from lawyer to First Lady. 

Lady Gaga started a makeup line.

Drew Barrymore went from being an actress (still is) to hosting a talk show, and also developed her own makeup line.

Kate Hudson went from being an actress (still is)  to a successful leisurewear entrepreneur.

Serena Williams, a world-renowned Tennis player, (arguably the greatest of all time) started a clothing line and then a jewelry line.

Kamala Harris went from being a lawyer/prosecutor to Democratic Vice Presidential nominee.

Gabby Giffords went from being a Congresswoman to being an activist.

Jenna Bush was a teacher, then became an author and is now a talk show host.

Sheryl Sandberg is a successful executive who is also an author and public speaker.

And look at Oprah!!

All of these women show grace, courage, grit, determination, and humility. We can learn these things and so much more from each of them. 

Ready To Jump?

In any move education is key. Continue to prioritize honing your skills and advancing your knowledge base. It’s vitally important to continue learning throughout our lives and our careers in both formal and informal settings. 

If you’re looking for specific action items to lead you as you prepare for your next jump, check out the Alpha Scoring Guide. Assess where you are and use the resources to help you get to where you want to go. If you need more hands-on, personalized advice, let’s connect for a deeper conversation in a coaching session. I’d love to encourage you and cheer you on towards your next big career move!

Posted in

Leave a Comment

READY TO JOIN THE AlphaWoman Community?

News, updates, events and more, directly to your inbox!

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.