STEP NO. 4 | Thinking Forward

Welcome to Step No. 4 of the Guide to Career Pivoting For Entrepreneurial Types.

At this point, you’ve got clarity on your entrepreneurial career pivot. And you’re committed to making it happen. 

Now, it’s time to take action.

What micro action can you take to move forward on your pivot?
What can you learn? Who can you reach out to exchange expertise and support? What can you participate in? What experiment can you run to test your pivot? What real-world data can you collect?

While it's a micro step, it’s challenging. In fact, this is where most entrepreneurial types get stuck.

We visualize our ideal careers. We do endless research. We take in tons of information. But we don’t take the steps to move forward.

If you’ve been around the personal development world, you know there’s a lot of emphasis on action.

In the rational camp, there’s the idea of ‘taking massive action.’ This is the concept of taking action until you get the results you want. It’s about trying again and again until you hit your goal. It’s about grit and resilience. This works for some, and for others, it leads to burnout with minimal results.

And in the woo-woo camp, there’s ‘alignment before action.’ This is the idea of taking action only when you’re inspired to do so. Instead of forcing yourself to take action, this philosophy encourages you to boost your mood doing things you enjoy first, and then take action from a positive, energetic state. Again, this works for some, and leads to procrastination for others.

The thing is before you take either of these approaches, you have to step back and understand why you’re not taking action in the first place.

If you’re here, it’s likely because you feel stuck in a career you don’t love.

So how did you come to feel stuck?

It started with a circumstance - an objective, neutral condition.

1. Your circumstance then triggered a thought - a subjective, emotional response.
2. Your thought then created a feeling - a physical, visceral reaction.
3. Your feeling then determined an action - you either took it or did not take it.
4. And finally, your action (or lack thereof) determined your result.

Here’s an example that demonstrates two ways you could interpret your circumstance...

Circumstance: You’re in the career you’re in.

Initial thought: I hate what I’m doing but I don’t know what to do next.
Feeling: Confused.
Action: None.
Result: Stuck doing the status quo.

Better thought: I want to make a change so I am going to figure out what I want to do next.
Feeling: Motivated.
Action: Proactively researching and testing out ways to get unstuck.
Result: Clarity to move forward.

See, thoughts are powerful. A subtle shift in thought could take you from stuck to having the clarity to move forward.

But, thoughts are also pervasive. In an instant, a new thought could get you stuck once again.

To get unstuck, become aware of thinking traps that may be preventing you from pivoting your career...

What If-ing
Thought: What if I make the wrong decision. What if I change my mind. What if ‘they’ think this. What if I suck at it. What if it doesn’t work out. What if {insert worry}.
Feeling: Worry.
Action: None.
Result: Stuck.

Thought: I’m not sure if this pivot is the perfect path for me.
Feeling: Doubt.
Action: None.
Result: Stuck.

Too Busy-ing
Thought: I don’t have time. I have too much going on right now to make a pivot.
Feeling: Overwhelmed.
Action: None.
Result: Stuck.

Sunk Cost-ing
Thought: If I pivot, everything I’ve done so far will be a waste. I will have to start all over again. I’m probably going to make less money.
Feeling: Loss-aversion.  
Action: None.
Result: Stuck.

Thought: I’m known as a {insert title}. If I make a change, I’ll lose my identity. People might think I’m “flaky,” “a job hopper,” or “a quitter.”
Feeling: Attached.
Action: None.
Result: Stuck.

Thought: My current situation is not that bad. Maybe I can put up with it for a little longer.
Feeling: Resigned.
Action: None.
Result: Stuck.

Thought: I can’t do this because I wasn’t born with this {insert trait, talent, privilege}. If only I wasn’t {insert disadvantage}, then I could do it. No one understands my situation. My situation is so hard.  
Feeling: Helpless.
Action: None.
Result: Stuck.

Thought: It’s not worth pursuing because I’ll never be as good as so-and-so. Wow, so-and-so has made so much more progress than me, maybe I’m not cut out for this.
Feeling: Not enough.
Action: None.
Result: Stuck.

Wait Until-ing
Thought: Once I {insert excuse...take this course, get validation etc.}, then I’ll be ready.
Feeling: Not ready.
Action: None.
Result: Stuck.

Thought: Making this change is too hard. It’s too much effort. I have to do this, and this, and that.
Feeling: Dread.
Action: None.
Result: Stuck.

The thoughts that hold you back are excuses.

The longer you hold on to your excuses, the harder they are to shift. Without even being aware of it, you unconsciously become attached to your excuses. Observe yourself, how are you conditioning your life around your excuses?

Observe your thoughts, list out all the excuses that are keeping you stuck.

Give each of your excuses a name like ‘What If-ing.’

Did you catch yourself making tons of excuses? Don’t be too hard on yourself, we all do it.

Observe anyone who wants to make a change. You’ll notice how tightly they hang onto their excuses. It’s often not evident to them but it’ll be so obvious to you.

This is where you have a choice. You can fight for your excuses, or you can ‘think forward.’

Thinking forward is the practice of creating space to observe and reframe your thoughts in order to propel you forward.

Thinking forward isn’t just about creating positive thoughts. In fact, sometimes you can use anger or frustration to thrust yourself into forward action.

Likewise, thinking forward is not about getting rid of your thoughts. For one, it’s not possible. And for two, you need thoughts to create action.

Alright, it’s your turn to think forward.

Reframe all the thoughts that are keeping you stuck.

Take action.

Repeat over and over again.

Now, let’s move onto Step No. 5…