Planning to pivot? Author Jenny Blake says you first have to ‘plant’

“If change is the only constant,” says author Jenny Blake, “then let’s get better at it.”

This is how Blake concludes the introduction to her second book, Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One (Penguin Portfolio). This line is also a microcosm of how the entire book takes form: motivation to accept life’s challenges and become a better, more fulfilled person because of them.

“Pivot” is a four-step method that Blake developed for people (and organizations) to navigate change. To make big personal decisions—changing careers, moving to a new city, changing careers and moving to a new city, or launching a business—Pivot is a manual to do so as successfully as possible.

Jenny Blake
“If change is the only constant,” says author Jenny Blake, “then let’s get better at it.”

One of Blake’s first jobs was in the People Operations department at Google; Blake eventually worked in a career development capacity, coaching Google employees around their career goals. Blake made a major life pivot when she left Google HQ in California to move to New York City and start her own career development coaching practice.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, and Blake has an “open kimono” approach to talking about the experience—the anxiety, the income insecurity, the money. But once she was able to align her life, she uncovered another calling: developing the “Pivot” method and teaching it to her clients.

Blake’s “Pivot” method is made up of four parts: Plant, Scan, Pilot, and Launch. Blake makes an apt sports analogy to describe how she named these stages:

“In basketball, a pivot refers to a player keeping one foot firmly in place while moving the other in any direction to explore passing options. Much like a basketball player, successful pivots start by planting your feet—setting a strong foundation—then scanning the court for opportunities, staying rooted while exploring options. Scanning alone will not put points on the board, so eventually you start passing the ball around the court—testing ideas and getting feedback, or piloting—generating perspectives and opportunities to make a shot—eventually launching in a new direction.”

What I found most powerful about Pivot was the amount of time Blake devoted to the “Plant” stage. She explained her reasoning to devote so much real estate in her book to planting: when you’re about to make big changes in your life, first you need to anchor into what’s currently working. The constants in your routine, and your physical and emotional well-being, will be your bedrock when you need comfort.

Additionally, Blake makes the case that most new career skills and opportunities aren’t “out there.” You probably have a lot of information that you need already inside of you, as you’re planning your next move. She provides exercises to explore your values, skills, and “happiness formula”—all things that can change your life, before you actually change anything.

Pivot made me slap my forehead. After reading Blake’s thorough instructions for a successful Pivot, I could so clearly see why I fell flat on my face during a Pivot I tried to execute in my mid-twenties. I am currently in the middle of another pivot, and now the pages of my copy of Pivot are inked with underlines.

Overall, Pivot is a fun book. Blake has an engaging, high-energy voice. She’s candid about how scary it can be to go after your dreams, and she’s emphatic that it’s vital to do so anyway, if you want to live a full life.

She writes, “Our impulse is to tuck our tail between our legs and turn away. Or stuff the dreams down and pretend we never had them in the first place. But the fears that ride in on the coattails of an invigorating vision are a good sign. They signal that you are approaching something meaty enough to challenge you, and that you are squarely in your stretch zone.”

If it feels like the time to make a change, but you’re feeling some agita—don’t let panic stop you from doing what you love. Instead, let Pivot hold your hand through the process.

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