Whether in love or your career, whether you control it or not, you’ll probably pivot at least once in your life.

At some point during my third year of college, I started to suspect something wasn’t right. The path I set out for myself for the prior six years wasn’t quite satisfying me. A young man of many interests, the prospect of spending a lifetime focusing on being the best I could possibly be at one calling — teaching music — became unappealing.

Sure, teaching music is a wonderful path. The lasting impact teachers have on hundreds of lives is incomparable to most other roles and careers. I, however, felt strongly at that time that by following that typical career path and by putting as much of my life into my job as I expected would be necessary, I wouldn’t have the kind of fulfillment I was looking for.

My first major pivot.

While in college, I pivoted my approach. After several attempts to fit a minor course of study into my schedule, I settled on a minor focused on nonprofit. It was a pivot that I now see as a good move because it helped shape the projects I take on today and gave me more paths towards living a life of doing important things.

The pivot is the key to not just success but survival. If you’re a professional athlete, focus on sharpening your broadcast skills so you have an opportunity for a “second act” once you can no longer compete — especially if you aren’t one of the few superstar athletes who could publish a memoir people would buy.

If you run a business, a pivot could be revolutionary. It’s a fundamental change in the nature or strategy of the company. Nintendo is known for video games and gaming technology, but the company launched in the 19th century making vacuum cleaners and playing cards. The executives saw the birth of a trend very early on, and in 1966, turned to video games and never looked back.

It was a massively successful pivot.

There’s nothing more pivotal than the life of a serial entrepreneur. Take one business to a certain point, exit that business through a sale or merger, and move onto the next project. In the same vein, I’ve seen people develop successful businesses, and once they’ve gone as far as they’d like to go, they’ve begun their next business selling other entrepreneurs on the ideas that led them to their initial success. “You, too, can be a success, just like me! I’ll tell you how. Buy my e-book and take my online course!”

Adaptability is the key to a successful pivot.

Pivot Your Way to a Better Life

Adaptability is one of the most important adult skills. If you’re too set in your ways and not amenable to change, you can be guaranteed that life will pass you by, and if you’re after happiness, it may prove to be elusive. You’ve got to be paying attention to today’s trends, predicting the future, and have a keen awareness of your skills.

Tim Tebow’s now a baseball player. A podcast company called Odeo became Twitter. Jessica Alba went from actor to entrepreneur — and if that’s not a complete pivot, at least it’s diversification.

Pivots in your personal life can be even more monumental. Moving out of a toxic relationship could be the best pivot for your long-term health and happiness. The list of famous relationship pivots is too long to include here.

Pivot successfully with five steps.

Here’s how you can prepare for a successful pivot, and you can expect to have at least one major pivot in your life — more if you want to be as agile as possible, increasing your changes for success and happiness.

Are you ready to make a pivot in your life or career? These are five important steps.

Pivot Your Way to a Better Life

1. Focus on being a generalist with as much enthusiasm as a specialist.

Take the time to explore your interests and learn about related areas. Although people no longer tend to work for the same company from the moment they can work to the moment they retire (or die), there still is a strong trend to stay in the same field. Often, a strong career requires a highly specialized degree, and that education takes a long time.

But a great education prepares students for adapting to the world, whatever it might bring. Use time in college to experiment with different paths, especially if you are talented in or passionate about a variety of fields. Gain experience working in areas you wouldn’t normally consider. Practice solving problems of all types.

There’s a danger when people become experts or become immersed in a narrow field. So many mortgage brokers — trained to be nothing more and without other marketable skills — found themselves out of work during the credit crunch period of the last recession.

Multi-faceted experience gives you a level of employability first of all, and beyond that, the potential to take your income into your own hands through building your own business, consulting, freelancing, or otherwise honing in on entrepreneurship.

2. Open your mind to new ideas.

It’s possible you discover an important pivot by saying yes to interesting opportunities. While it’s important not to distract yourself from the job you are doing, closing yourself off to signs that the world is changing around you will be disastrous.

Find interesting people — or anyone doing work in something that interests you — and ask questions. Get acquainted. Learn from them.

3. Guide yourself by a broad vision.

Corporate mission statements are often specific, and direct a company towards the type of work they do. Sometimes these mission statements change, but the overall vision remains the same.

Your vision should be broad. What kind of world do you want to live in? The answer to that can be your vision. And when you pivot, even if it’s from one career path to another, it can still fit in with your vision of the future.

But don’t feel bad if it doesn’t. You’re allowed to change your mind. You’re allowed to follow a path that has no relation to the journey you started. That’s an inherent benefit of being an adult.

4. Predict the future.

Easy right? It’s not impossible. You don’t have to be a fortune teller to get it right. You just have to pay attention to the little details, and have a good grasp on human behavior, using history as a guide.

Keep an eye on the world around you, because that’s how you can learn to spot minute changes that signal the shape of the future. For example, not many people accurately predicted the latest economic recession with significant advance warning, but once the recession was apparent, it was relatively easy to figure out what some of the world’s biggest concerns and trends were going to be in the coming years.

5. Plan your pivot as much as possible.

Pivot Your Way to a Better Life

If you want to jump into the pool’s deep end, you should probably know how to swim first. If you don’t know how, you may struggle, and your basic need for survival may be the only force preventing you from drowning. Maybe.

Prepare with knowledge and practice, and your chance for survival increases. Reduce the risk of the pivot by doing research, talking to others who have made similar moves, and setting up your personal support system.

Your support system includes friends and family who want to see you succeed with the changes in your life. There will always be doubters, though. You may want to ignore them and remove negativity from your life, but that’s not always the best idea. Even critics might have a perspective worth considering — not all, but some.

But you do need people who will cheer you on and provide moral support.

Create a timeline. And depending on whether you like the sink-or-swim challenge, either you give yourself no option but to keep trying until you succeed, or give yourself a back-up plan. Build that into your timeline, but don’t be afraid to adjust or adapt — or pivot — as the needs arise.

Whether it’s part of your plan or appearing by surprise, your life will include at least one pivot. Take control of your pivot with preparation and planning, and be ready to pivot at any moment. Look for the opportunities.
You never know what kind of success or happiness is out there if you move only in one direction and ignore your peripheral vision.

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Is the solopreneur lifestyle right for you?

Earlier this year, Adulting.tv LIVE! presented live sessions on Blab. Stay tuned for future live events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Adulting.tv LIVE! welcomes special guest Zina Kumok, contributor to Adulting and founder of Debt Free After Three. Zina and Miranda discuss what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and freelancer with their own businesses..

Is the solopreneur lifestyle right for you?

Watch the video above, or listen to just the audio by using the player below.

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The things you learn from your first crappy job will help you be a better adult the rest of your life.

A bad job will crush your soul.

It will leave you feeling stressed out, worn down, and ready to throw in the towel. It will make you re-think your career, sabotage your relationships, and generally make you question whether or not being an adult is even worth it.

What if bad jobs aren’t always a bad thing?

Much like a near-death experience, a really bad job can give a needed dose of perspective. It can tamper unrealistic expectations, and set you up to be happier and more successful in the long run. It can even teach you a thing or two about yourself.

A bad job makes you humble.

I worked as a newspaper reporter on my first job straight out of college, where I quickly learned a harsh truth: cub reporters have to pay their dues. We all had to work holidays, and those with the most seniority got to choose which holiday they worked. Because I was the newest, I had to take what was usually left: Thanksgiving.

That first year, I worked Thanksgiving and Black Friday while my co-workers spent those days with their families. I was also the one to fill in for our night cops reporter when he left, so I worked 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. my last few months on the job.

I was miserable, but I soon came to understand why I was in that position. It wasn’t malicious. No one took joy in the fact that I ate McDonald’s on Thanksgiving. In fact, every single person above me on the totem pole had gone through exactly the same situation.

It’s easy to feel like you deserve a better gig, especially if you worked hard in college. I spent most of my time in school working at the daily student newspaper and my summers interning at various media companies. I thought I deserved more after college than covering school board meetings in some Podunk town.

In reality, that was precisely what I deserved. Having a crappy first job experience brought me down a peg, and taught me the dangers of unrealistic expectations. I realized that a comfortable, satisfying job right out of the gate wasn’t just unusual; it was practically unheard of.

A bad job makes you grateful.

Having that job made me more thankful for my next opportunity at a nonprofit, where I didn’t work nights, weekends, or holidays. I was so happy to be somewhere else that I didn’t even care I was still earning less than my friends.

The feeling of gratitude lasted until I left three years later. It sustained me when I did have to work long nights or the occasional weekend. That perspective has stuck with me through every crappy job experience I’ve had in my career. I can be grateful that it will never be as crappy as that first job.

A crappy job teaches you to create your own happiness.

During my newspaper gig, I started a blog chronicling how I was trying to save money and pay off my student loans. My bosses loved the blog, and it was the one thing I really enjoyed writing. Covering car crashes and house fires was not exactly fulfilling.

Six months of blogging about frugal living for the paper led to me starting my own blog. That has now morphed into a freelance writing career covering personal finance, where I make twice as much money with half the stress. But I had to take charge of what really made me happy in order to find that path.

If you’re in a job you hate, take on new opportunities to see what really gets you fired up. It may take some experimenting, but you’ll come out the other side with a clearer view of what truly makes you happy.

And you may never have to take a crappy job again.

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Authority issues and people issues. It’s a good thing I work from home.

I never lasted more than a year or two in a traditional job. Even in high school, I got tired of working for “the man” when it interfered too much with my swim practices and social calendar.

Rather than stick it out, I quit and “worked for myself” teaching piano lessons. I made more per hour, and arranged matters so I only had to “work” one day a week – the day I picked.

Through college and even after, it was obvious I wasn’t going to be able to stick with anything approaching a real job. I went to grad school, got my master’s degree in journalism, and haven’t had a real job in years. Even now that I’ve accepted a salaried position with an online publisher, I still work from home and enjoy a freelance lifestyle.

Working from home is clearly the right choice for me, and maybe you, too. Here’s why:

I hate people.

Okay, I don’t actually hate people. But I struggle when I have to be around them for hours at a time. Even my son, whom I love, gets on my nerves. I need alone time to recharge. As an introvert, working around others can be extremely draining.

I prefer to work at home, in my own space. No one demands my undivided attention when I’m at home. I can ignore emails and texts in a way that I can’t ignore a coworker walking up to make small talk (which I hate and am awkward at).

Working at home allows me to go at my own pace, interact with those I want to talk to, and avoid actually having to deal with people on a regular basis. Do I sometimes have a video meeting or phone call? Sure. But at least it’s not Every. Single. Day.

I have authority issues.

I’ve never enjoyed having people tell me what to do. I can take direction, and I try to provide what my clients ask for. However, I don’t do well with a traditional “boss” in my life. I naturally rebel against authority. Not great when you have to see a supervisor each day.

Turns out, working from home is great if you are a self-starter. It’s even better for those who can problem solve on their own, and don’t need someone to tell them what to do all the time. Working from home is the ultimate adult experience. For the most part, no one is going to make you do anything – especially if you don’t have a boss. You have to be in charge of the situation on your own.

Of course, when you have authority issues, you can’t blame anyone else for your failures. If you don’t get out of bed and get your work done, it’s on you. If you can’t figure out a solution to your problem, that’s on you, too. It’s great when you don’t have to worry about a boss walking by at any time. But you still have to perform.

I value freedom and flexibility.

The two most important things in my life are freedom and flexibility. I care about freedom more than I care about money. I prefer flexibility to security. Working from home is great for me because it offers the ultimate in freedom and flexibility.

I set my own hours. If I want a spa day on Wednesday afternoon, I take a spa day on Wednesday afternoon. Ready for a nap around 11 am? It’s sleepy time! Feel like eating chocolate for lunch? No coworkers to judge me.

My dad recently retired, and that means that I am available to go to lunch with him. If my sister needs emergency childcare help, I can provide that.

Because I set my own schedule while working from home, I can be involved in my community and help my family. Sometimes it means I work on the weekend or at night, but the truth is that a “traditional” week holds no real meaning for me. The only reason I know what day of the week it is nine months out of the year is because I need to make sure my son gets to school.

Staying on top of everything.

The downside to working from home is that sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of everything. I can’t just leave my work at work. I get distracted by other things and sometimes struggle. And sometimes my family and friends, God love ‘em, don’t respect the fact that I have to work and I can’t always take care of things. Or they get upset because I have to work right now or check my email because I’m expecting something vital to my career. They get annoyed at how there are times I really don’t stop working.

Working from home isn’t for everyone. It works for me because I like the time to recharge by myself and I like the freedom and flexibility involved. To me, it outweighs a time-intensive job that might pay more. And there really is no substitute for avoiding people most of the day.

Do you work from home? Would you like to? Why or why not?

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Make work a better place. If you are concerned about bullying in the workplace, here’s what you need to do.

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Have you been bullied at work?

You might be surprised to learn that almost everyone has experienced bullying in the workplace. Bullies aren’t always overt in their efforts. Some just sabotage efforts, while others are more interested in browbeating or threats. Only a very few people actually experience physical assault in the workplace. Most bullying at work is more subtle.

You don’t have to be bullied at work, though. It’s possible for you to stand up against a culture that allows bullying and become an advocate for yourself. Once you understand yourself and your abilities, and learn to respect yourself, you can help create a culture of wider respect in your workplace.

Here’s how you can learn to be an advocate for yourself and for others.

Concepts

  • A look at a culture of bullying, and how it comes to pass.
  • Different ways you might be bullied at work, and how bullying manifests itself in a workplace environment.
  • Realities of workplace bullying.
  • How to understand your own best qualities, and how to leverage them to reduce how you are bullied at work.
  • Tips for dealing with a bully at work.
  • How to work toward changing the culture at your company so that others don’t have to be subject to bullying as well.
  • What to do when your supervisor is the bully.
  • When it’s time consider leaving your job if the situation is too toxic.
  • Tips for talking to HR.
  • Ideas for creating a workplace policy related to bullying.

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Resources

ForbesHow workplace bullying looks
ForbesHow not to be bullied
ASHA: American Speech-Language Hearing AssociationHow to be your own advocate
TimesUnionWorkplace advocacy

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Are you tired of dealing with your jerk boss? Life’s too short for this nonsense.

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Research indicates that you don’t quit your job. You are far more likely to quit your boss.

A great boss can make almost any job, no matter how menial, worth doing. On the flip side, a jerk boss can make what should be an awesome job a dreadful chore. You don’t want to be stuck with a crappy boss. That’s years of your life — and it can even have an impact on your overall health.

Life’s too short to spend one-third (or more!) of it in a toxic environment, catering to the whims of a jerk boss. Plus, with these bosses, there’s a good chance your hard work won’t even be acknowledged. It’s all guts and no glory in these situations.

Part of being a good leader is learning how to create a work environment that brings out the best in employees. If you have a jerk boss that doesn’t seem to get it, you need to start weighing your options, whether it’s learning how to handle your boss (try treating him/her like a toddler), or walking out.

If you can’t just pick up and leave, you can make your workplace more bearable. In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with preparing yourself for a new job — with a better boss.

Concepts

  • What are some of the signs you’re dealing with a jerk boss?
  • Red flags that indicate you might not see the results you want.
  • Reasons that your work is about more than just money.
  • Tips for handling a jerk boss, including how to manage other bullies.
  • Considerations for quitting your job.
  • Strategies for advancing in your career, despite your jerk boss.

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Resources

BBCHow bosses drive employees away
ForbesPeople leave managers, not jobs
Business InsiderMoney isn’t always the best motivator
EntrepreneurTypes of bad bosses
CNBCHow to treat a bad boss

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Is it time to bail? Here’s how to tell if you should move on right now.

You’ve stressed about doing a great job so you can stay employed. It seems like a terrible idea to ditch your job when you worked so hard to get where you are.

But sometimes you need to move on, no matter how much time and energy you’ve invested in your job. Here are a few signs your current position has run its course:

1. The environment is toxic.

One of the biggest reasons to ditch your job is due to a toxic environment. If you are dealing with harassment, bullying, or you are concerned about the legality of some of the company’s practices, it’s time to bail. Don’t stick around if there are serious problems.

2. You aren’t growing.

Many of us like meaning in our work. In fact, one of the hallmarks of today’s young job-seekers is that they expect a job to offer meaning. While it’s possible to find meaning in practically any job, no matter how crappy, it can become wearing if you don’t feel that your work leads to personal growth and feelings that you are impacting the world for good. If you feel like you could progress and make a positive contribution elsewhere, start looking.

3. The company doesn’t match your values.

Maybe the company isn’t doing something illegal, but you aren’t sure that the mission and values align with yours. It’s hard to feel good about working at a place that doesn’t mesh with your personal mission. Ditch your job if you feel the cognitive dissonance is becoming too great to manage.

4. Your skills aren’t utilized.

Are you proud of your skills and abilities and wish your company would use them? Perhaps your boss doesn’t recognize your skills, or maybe you are in a position that isn’t compatible with your abilities. The struggle to continue may drain you emotionally. Start looking for a job that offers you a chance to use what you know.

5. You’re at a dead end.

Trying to climb that career ladder, but there’s no place to go? It’s time to ditch your job. If you want a position that allows for the possibility of advancement and you’re stuck going nowhere, a shift to a company with room for progress might make more sense.

6. The job isn’t secure.

These days no job is secure. However, there are times that might be less secure than others. If you think layoffs are coming, now might be the time to update your resume and brush up on your interview skills. Don’t wait until the ax falls to get ready.

7. You’re want something different for your life.

Sometimes you just want a new challenge. Maybe you’re ready for the freedom and flexibility that comes with being self-employed. Perhaps you’ve changed your expectations for your life. We’re all on a journey, and when you’re ready for a new direction, your current job might not fit.

Before you leave your job.

Don’t get fired up to ditch your job and give noticed tomorrow, though. Once you realize it’s time to move on, you need to have a plan in place. Are you in a financial position to leave? What are some of the challenges you will face if you no longer have a job?

Whenever possible, build up an emergency fund and think about how you will handle benefits. You need to be ready for what’s next before you take that leap. While it’s not always possible to be completely ready, do what you can to get ahead of the curve.

There’s no reason to stay in a job that doesn’t fit with your life. Start preparing now so you are ready in the event you decide to ditch your job.

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