Pivot Points, Coda
As I was thinking this over a few days later, I noticed a few things about my own pivot points – and of course these patterns may or may not apply to anyone else. The high points:
- There is a period of discomfort prior to the pivot, just like Ken Wilber describes in the leap between levels in Spiral Dynamics. I suspect the discomfort creates space for the shift. This unease often takes the form of boredom, spiritual sloth, or mediocrity – lack of my natural passion and/or excellence.
- I feel a great urge to clean, reorganize, and throw things out – clearing the decks.
- The internal shift is pretty much instantaneous, from one day to the next; then I spend a few months second-guessing my inner certainty, and wondering what is around the corner.
- My existing client base winds down for no discernible reason.
- The pivot often includes new surroundings, both physical and social, and always includes a change of focus and/or profession.
Here are some examples: I grew up in New Jersey with my mother, then moved to Vienna to join my father (on three days’ notice) when I was 14, and from there we all moved to England when I was 15 – two major life changes in eight months. After six years at school and working as a chef and in the theatre in Cambridge, I moved north to live in a community for two years. During my time at Lifespan, I learned to weave and to run an offset litho printing press. When I was 21, my mother died, leaving me a little money; I bought a house in Sheffield in 1980 and started a textiles workshop – change of venue and profession. In 1985, everything changed again as I began studying at Hull School of Architecture: new house, new companions, new profession. During this period, I also went to New Zealand – twice – to visit my once-and-future sweetheart, and in 1992/3 suddenly realized that my time in England had come to an end. After 20 years, I no longer wanted to live in a grimy overpopulated industrial city with vile weather. Within four months I sold my house, packed up, and moved to the US.
Five years on, I realized I was unhappy with working in architecture… or, not so much unhappy as bored and frustrated. When I checked in with myself, 90% of my time was spent on the computer rather than actually using my design skills. It took the best part of year to allow myself to look for something else. That’s when I took the road trip that ended up in Arizona; there I met Dorothy, the creator of Geotran. I let go of my apartment in Vermont and moved yet again to work in her office for three years.
By the end of that time, it felt like it was time to start my own practice, which I didn’t want to do in Dorothy’s shadow. I asked (in the field) where I should settle, and to my surprise, I kept hearing ‘California’. So my RV and I moved first to San Luis Obispo and then the Santa Barbara: new location, new social groups, new clients as I focused on practicing Geotran. This was fairly successful for 16 years, but tailed off in the last two years I spent in California… and my living situation was sufficiently uncomfortable that I was ready to detach and live elsewhere, without having any idea where.
My best friend then startled me by offering to buy me a very charming house around the corner from his in central Illinois, and once again, from one day to the next, my direction changed. By this time, I only had long-distance clients to whom my physical location made no difference, and all my household effects were already in a POD, making it relatively easy to move across the country. I packed up everything else, had the POD shipped, painted the new house with the help of local friends, and unpacked the POD… all within two weeks of closing on the house, and only six weeks after my friend made his offer.
I expected that (if I were in the right place) I would naturally attract new clients and friends as soon as I settled in to my new house. That didn’t happen, or not as rapidly as I expected, given all my previous visits to this town. What I do feel is a longing for a chateau in France, for more travel, for new colleagues and fresh endeavors. As Joseph Campbell said, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
The question then becomes:
- What percent am I complete with this new focus or pivot point?
- What do I need to let go of so that this new direction can flow in more easily?
- What do I need to bring in to support this new focus?
- What needs to be integrated, and where (in which areas or bio-computers) so that I can align with this fork in the road?
Are you at a pivot point? Then you might like to ask the same questions…