Written by Lauren Henry & Candice Henry | Aretios | KNOW Sarasota

So, things didn’t exactly go according to plan, did they?

Well, you’re not alone. Change can be difficult for all of us to handle; there’s a reason humans are called “creatures of habit.” In today’s fast paced society, the hard truth is that change is the only constant, and as leaders, it’s often our responsibility to help teams navigate the process. While some of us may be skilled in handling this at work, when it comes to our personal life, taking blows to our dreams and career aspirations can prove to be a much greater challenge.

When unexpected events come that impact us personally, we need to learn to pivot instead of panic… and who knows? This change in plans just might become the best thing that ever happened.

Here’s three things to help you skillfully make the pivot.

1. Relax your timeline
We envision how things will play out and we create timelines for our work and lives to follow. Leadership and personal growth teaching encourages this…and it should. Plans and goals are not only hallmarks but essential tools of the successful leaders we admire; however, they also have another tool in their kit that we sometimes like to forget: flexibility.

If we’ve learned anything in the recent years, it’s that the best laid plans don’t always come to pass. When this happens, we are faced with two options. We can either abandon the cause altogether or we can relax our timeline and decide to midcourse correct. Just because you aren’t where you thought you would be in this moment doesn’t mean it’s too late or impossible.

Even in our own careers, we’ve faced delays. Lauren experienced a two year postponement to the start of her teaching career when the faculty position suddenly wasn’t available, even though the university had intended to hire her.

An adjustment to her timeline allowed for a foray into fundraising where she obtained invaluable lessons and experience from raising nearly $1 million for charitable causes before returning to her original goal of becoming a professor.

Delays aren’t always dead ends.

Your momentary pause could provide the preparation needed to take on an even better, future opportunity.

2. Reframe your skillset
A friend of ours worked hard to move her way up the corporate ladder proudly securing a recognized management position within the company after several years. Things were going well, and she was in good standing…or so she thought. She never saw it coming.

An unexpected meeting turned a normal workday into her last day on the job. Stunned, and suddenly unemployed, she scrambled to make her next move.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself in this position before. Interruptions to our routine, though sometimes shocking, give us an opportunity to adopt a new perspective on our skillset. This mental shift can actually force the creative process into motion and open a whole new world of possibilities for our plans and potential career paths.

It’s easy for us to follow the traditional patterns of thinking about how our skills can be used without ever giving alternative routes a thought. However, many people’s skills are more transferable than they think. In today’s ever changing business and technological landscape, companies aiming to stay ahead and innovate are looking for people with the proper skillset and an alternative perspective outside the norm of industry thinking.

One of the classic examples of this is Alan Mulally’s surprising transition from Boeing to Ford and how his leadership prowess cultivated in aeronautics transformed the automobile space, turning Ford’s near demise into a soaring success.

In order to reframe your skillset, start by extracting the qualities and contributing factors from the accomplishments on your resume. Instead of only seeing your experience within the framework of the companies you’ve worked for, look for the attributes you exhibited to excel. Was it organizing a team? Analyzing processes? Streamlining communication? Copywriting?

Ask yourself what industries or organizations rely on or could benefit from these skills.

Using this process, our friend reframed her management expertise and customer service experience into the foundation for her entrepreneurial journey. This turned out to be the invigorating challenge she never knew she needed.

Sometimes it takes a forced and uncomfortable change to reveal an alternative way to utilize our skills.

Candice’s entrée into teaching leadership in the academic world came after an athletic leadership and performance coaching opportunity fell through.

3. Revisit your why
At the heart of every decision we make is our core motivation. Though it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, returning to the why never fails to bring the clarity we crave. Here’s a few questions we’ve used in our professional careers and entrepreneurial journey that can help you to realign yourself with what you really want in life.

What is my end goal?
Why do I want this?
What would define success in this situation?
What is my role in achieving this goal (both now and in the future)?

Making time to intentionally self-reflect is one of the most underrated tools for effectively navigating change.

Change doesn’t have to take you out of the game. Instead, it’s an opportunity to relaunch your efforts in a new and powerful way as long as you’re willing to relax your timeline, reframe your skillset, and revisit your why.

dixie brown

Lauren Henry & Candice Henry

Candice & Lauren are top-rated university professors of leadership and co-founders of Aretios, training entrepreneurs and young professionals to lead well and live their best life. Bringing over a decade of study in leadership and personal growth and 13 years of experience as leadership trainers, these success and influence strategists will help you clarify purpose and develop influence to live a life of success, excitement, and meaning.