“I didn’t see that coming, and now my life is forever changed!” Those were the words I wrote in my journal sitting on a plane and reflecting over the weekend I had just experienced.
An old song by Haddaway came to my mind, so I put my headphones on and begin listening to the lyrics:
“Life will never be the same! Life is changing.
Life will never be the same! Life is changing.”
We all experience these kinds of “shift” or “twist
moments. The difference between those who turn it into something awesome, and those who crater, is one thing:
Will you pivot with the shift or twist in your life? Or will you resist and get tangled up in knots?
I am in the midst of taking a course at Advance Your Reach, led by Pete Vargas iii, called “Pivot Planning.”
Sitting on that plane, gazing out the window, and asking myself: “What on earth is happening here?” …I realized that many of the steps that were critical for my business in Pivot Planning were also applicable to my life pivot.
I wanted to share some of the keys to pivoting when there has been an unexpected twist to the plan of your life.
I am aware that some of those twists seem awesome, as mine did. But some of them are not necessarily welcome events or moments. However, these same steps apply to both. I hope you will keep them close, as most of us are pivoting during this time of a global pandemic.
1. Make a decision to evaluate what is before you with an open heart, and an open mind. When something unexpected, like a life twist occurs, we tend to evaluate from a negative position first.
Recently I worked with a male client whose relationship had progressed to a delightful, yet stressful, new level. Upon arrival, he began to immediately speak of the challenges. (I don’t like her mother, we are not on the same page about budgeting, etc).
I invited him to join me in assessing the situation with an open heart and open mind. By the end of the session, he was excited about moving their relationship forward, and actually looking forward to tackling some of the challenges together with his new fiancé.
2. Do a thorough assessment of the areas of your life that will be affected. I divide our lives into seven basic categories, and use the word RESPECT as an acronym for those seven areas:
Purposeful Living with Priority
Energy and Health
Career and Finances
Teaching/Touching Others (Making a Difference)
Determine which of those areas will be impacted by the situation that has just twisted before you. For the man who had recently become engaged, he circled all seven areas. Rightfully so!
3. Take the time to bullet point what was occurring (prior to the twist) in each of these areas you selected in step two. Here are a few of the things we outlined in the situation with the newly engaged man.
• Dinner with his children without girlfriend every Thursday night (she was doing the same thing with her children on Thursday evenings).
• His anger over how her ex husband was using her kids to manipulate.
• They were attending different churches.
Purposeful Living with Priority
• Spending too much time binging on Netflix.
It is very important to assess where are you currently. Without judgment. Just like when you get in your car to find directions to a new restaurant … before you can get directions to the new place, the map must know your current location.
Don’t judge what you see, just assess it.
4. After assessing where you are, make a plan on how to embrace the twist. When we face a flip or a twist, we need to design a plan. Here is the process for design. Review your assessment and ask yourself these questions.
What do I need to add?
What do I need to delete?
What do I need to modify?
What do I need to “double down” on?
In the example above, here’s a snipet of how the newly engaged man used the questions to begin designing his plan:
Add – Begin a conversation about the church situation, and begin to visit churches together to select one.
Delete – Binging on Netflix, unless it’s something they both enjoy and agree to spend time on together.
Modify – Begin to have one “blended family” meal together one Thursday evening each month.
Double down – Resolving his anger with her ex-husband.
5. Write out your plan and commit to it. Of course, in this situation, we began designing the plan together, but it’s something that he needed to continue (now that he understood the process) with his fiancé.
If your plan involves anyone other than yourself, this needs to be a “together“ exercise.
Once your plan is written, make a commitment to it. Of course I refer to that commitment as “burning your plows” (like the ancient story of Elisha) or “burning the boats.”
If you have a dream to go to an island and “live off the land” while you develop it, you MUST burn the boats!
When we are committing to a new plan of any sort, unless we “burn the boats“… We are likely to jump back in them when challenges arise, and row back to what is familiar. (Probably one of the reasons that research shows that couples who decide to live together before marriage have a significantly greater chance of break up than those who marry first. Without the commitment, when you take someone for a “test drive” without “burning the boats,” it is much easier to jump back in the boat when challenges arise).
When discussing “burning his boats” to embrace this new journey as an engaged man, I asked him what that might look like for him. He looked at me, rolled his eyes and said, “I know exactly what you’re going to make me do.” I laughed out loud because I don’t make people do anything! So I asked him what he thought I was going to “make him” do.
I laughed hysterically when he told me that he was sure I was going to “make him” change his relationship status on Facebook. After I recovered from laughing, I told him, “Well … I hadn’t even thought of that, but the guilty dog normally barks first! So why do you need to do that?”
I asked why he rolled his eyes and why, if I had suggested doing that, it would be a problem? To his credit, he acknowledged that he enjoyed the image of looking single. And admitted he needed to burn that boat. The reason I always ask the question about burning the boats is because people reveal where they really are in answering that question!
I told him to talk that over with his fiancée and for them to come to an agreement that worked for both of them in that regard.
What boat do you need to burn in order to embrace the twist in your life?
As I said earlier, this works in both directions. Whether it’s something new and exciting, or whether it is something less fortunate.
I am writing this in a very exciting time in my life. But I thought of my dear friend, Becky, who lost her husband unexpectedly last week. She’s having to embrace a twist in her life. The twists are not always fun.
I would imagine that Becky would say that all seven areas of her life have been affected. If I were to do the assessment with her, I’m sure that breakfast with her beloved Larry would be on her list of what normally occurred before the his death. It’s one of the things that she will need to modify. As far as purposeful living with priority, taking care of him has been a great focus for her for many years. Now that one must be modified. I know my dear Becky, and she’ll be taking care of someone else, once she heals from her deep grief. It’s just who she is.
Here’s what I know about my dear Becky. She will embrace this twist. Of course she will grieve! But she will pivot, and her life will be meaningful and joyful again!
In dancing, a pivot turn for a female is when you place your right foot in front of you and turn toward your left on the ball of your feet until you have made an about face. As long as you turn in the correct direction, it is a very simple move, and is quite easy to keep your balance. But if you turn in the wrong direction, not only will your legs end up all tangled, but you will also lose your balance.
As I move forward into an exciting new time in life, I have placed my right foot out front, I am rising up on the balls of my feet, and I will pivot smoothly, gracefully, with perfect balance, by following these steps.
What about you? Life is always bringing twists and turns. Put your foot out front, and embrace the pivot!