The power of pivots and checkpoints

Not every plan we set is going to wield 100% amazing results, so sometimes we need to evaluate the current situation and determine whether or not to change course.

I find that when I plan, sometimes I find it doesn’t execute quite the way I expected. We’ve all had seen our plans work out differently than intended; pivoting from one direction to another in a plan can not only save yourself in a critical moment, but also save the long-term sustainability of a project.

The sooner you can execute your pivot, the better your chances for making the change you need for success. For me, pivoting is hard because it feels like giving up on the old plan. The longer I’ve been working at that plan, the harder it is for me to change direction. I think we all experience that to an extent; you can look at it as inertia (object in motion tends to stay in motion) or maybe a poor sunk cost analysis (time we’ve spent is gone, so we shouldn’t figure it in to our future decisions). That’s why the best way to increase your odds for successful pivoting is to establish checkpoints: specific times set in advance where you stop and evaluate your progress.

Imagine you’re working on a project that’s going to take you 12 months, and over the course of the project you hit a few snags. Six months in to the project, you sit down and evaluate your progress: turns out you’re about a month and a half behind where you needed to be, and you’re running out of money. What do you do in that situation? Is it different than what you’d do if you were three months in and running out of money? How about one month? Which timeline gives you the biggest potential for future success?

Checkpoint timing is critical, and it’s most effective when it’s frequent and consistent. Checking your happiness with a project, job, or even a relationship provides you the opportunity to set yourself up for success in the future, but you also have to commit to acting based on your checkpoint results; evaluating your actions doesn’t do much good if you’re not willing to act on your findings. Also, keep in mind the “Why Not Both” rule when deciding on a course of action: if you’re making an either/or choice, widen your viewpoint by considering how you could obtain both goals before making a choice.

Pivots, when used with checkpoints, can save you time, energy, money, and add to overall happiness. Can you think of a situation in your life where you could gain from a checkpoint or pivot?

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