I’m proud of Zayn Malik. Sure, I don’t actually know the former boy-bander, but I appreciated his recent announcement that he was moving in a new direction (I had to). I get where he’s coming from.
Because it’s the same for all of us: We will make choices and walk paths that may be right for us for a time—until they’re not anymore. Until we have to pivot. And we—like Zayn—need to be conscious of when it’s time to make that change, and confident enough to do it.
I’ve known that I wanted to be a writer forever. I knew that I wanted to quit my job to write and freelance full-time for years. It took me so long to make the leap because I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted all of the puzzle pieces to be in place. I didn’t want to make a mistake and have to change everything later.
It was only after repeated encouragement from those closest to me to “just start!” that I finally did.
“The one thing I can promise you,” my friend Donna told me at the time, “is that things will change. Your plans will change, your business will change, you will change. But you won’t know the changes you need to make until you start.”
So I did. And she was right. Things have changed.
After almost one year spent working for myself, I’ve figured out who I want to work with and who I don’t. What I want to write and what I don’t. I’ve had to pivot—the one thing I wanted to avoid at all costs. I’ve changed directions. I’ve changed my mind.
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Change is a scary thing. Especially when things are going alright; when nothing is really wrong.
“Why mess with a
good okay thing?” you ask yourself.
For me, it came down to this: I quit my job and chose to work for myself for a reason. A few important reasons, actually:
1. To write more and share my writing with the world
2. To help other people struggling to do the same
3. To dictate where, when, how, and with whom I worked
I soon found, though, that I had fallen back into familiar patterns: I answered emails upon waking and I worked late into the night. I worked with clients just for the money and allowed them to dictate my schedule. I wasn’t writing for myself, so I had nothing to share—and I was helping only a few, instead of the many I wanted to reach. And I was doing it all for less money and no health insurance.
Six months in, I didn’t want to admit that my business needed to change, but it did. I did. It was time to pivot.
Here’s how I did it:
1. I revisited my “why”.
For any of us—those who work for ourselves or for someone else—it’s easy to fall into a routine. To get up every morning, grab your coffee, sit at your desk, and do the work just as you’ve always done. Without regularly revisiting why we do what we do, we may find ourselves stuck in work (or activities or relationships) that no longer serve us—or worse, we might find that we’re no longer really serving anyone else.
I had to remind myself of why I had quit my job, why I had taken a significant pay cut, why it was worth it to me to do this on my own—and when I did, I realized that I wasn’t always doing the work that I wanted to with the people who needed it.
2. I re-envisioned my audience.
Here’s the reality of the situation: “living your passion” aside, I needed to make money. And when I first began working for myself, that was admittedly my biggest focus. I thought constantly about how I could make more. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But eventually, it meant that I was serving an audience simply because they had the money to pay me—and not because they were the people I wanted (or needed) to serve.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with getting paid—and I 100% advocate marketing to an audience that can afford to pay you what you’re worth—but I had to reconsider who I wanted to serve, not just based on whether they had money to spend, but also based upon whether they had a need that I wanted to fill.
3. I shared my new direction with the world.
Nothing would change in my business unless people knew that it had changed. So I let people know that I was pivoting; that I was trying something new. It was a sort of public accountability—and it was incredibly refreshing to see that no one was alarmed. Change is natural and expected, and a big change in your own life or business is usually only scary to you.
4. I sought new opportunities.
Change doesn’t happen overnight and most of my inbound client inquiries remained the same—I didn’t have editors clamoring over me, begging me to write for them. I still had businesses coming to me for their copywriting needs. And that makes sense! Just because you’ve decided to do something different doesn’t mean the new opportunities will automatically come rolling in.
I had to be proactive about the work that I wanted to do–researching publications, introducing myself to editors, and writing and pitching my own work.
5. I embraced the change.
I usually have a really hard time with change. I like stability and I like routine (I know, I know—why do I work for myself again?). But I’ve learned to embrace it more now that I’ve realized it’s both inevitable and it’s healthy. It’s integral to the growth of my business and my personal growth, too.
* * *
Here’s the thing: I’m sure I’ll pivot again—and again and again. And I’m learning to be okay with that—because I don’t want to become stagnant. I want to continue to write and do my work with passion and purpose…and pivots. In my business and in my life, I always want to be moving, growing, and changing for the better.
Do you need to pivot—in your business or in life? What changes can you make in the next month to get you back on track?