When, in 2020, our old way of doing things was disrupted, big brands, small business, personal lives, all creatively adapted to the new reality by transforming how we did things by, in effect, “pivoting” our thinking, and our doing.
Not all of us may have done – or even needed to – pivot or adjust our lives radically in the past year, but most likely you’ve seen it in action. That popular restaurant where once you used to enjoy a brunch with friends, today its windows may be filled with wine for sale, and assorted “grocery goods”.
Your favorite yoga teacher: now you are cobra-ing together on Zoom. That artist you like? Busy making smaller works for sale on Etsy - a pivot that involved a creative twist and an entrepreneurial instinct.
Pivots aren’t dreamy “Plan B’s” but a conscious change in the way we live, work or even play. To pivot is to take ownership of an incoming situation and turn it around. Their urgency comes from a need, but the fuel to make them happen comes from our resilience, creative spirit and calm consideration of the need to make changes. Which is why approaching them consciously, fearlessly, with positive attitude, and good intent and, most likely, some reaching out, provides the framework for success.
Last year was the year that spurred many a pivot. Some big, some small, some temporary and some that may change the landscape of our lives for good — for ever! A little tongue in cheek, perhaps, but here’s a look at some of the most ubiquitous of our pivots.
Home is where the (fill in the gap) is.
Space can’t pivot. But its purpose can, and in 2020 your residence once may have become home/workplace/ daycare/ schoolroom/yoga studio – its utility tailored to your immediate and changing needs. Supplied with light, heat, and comfy chairs, garages and even sheds found themselves to be the new “outdoor room” for small, socially distanced gatherings.
Given the license to work “wherever”, many took the opportunity to do a pivot away from urban life and the office altogether – Bay Street careerists finding that given ample Wi-Fi, dock of the bay suited them – and work – just fine.
From dropping the kids off at school, many found themselves in the role of supporting online learning by teaching the kids at home - only to find their knowledge of algebra/French/physics no longer up to snuff. Meanwhile work at home dads also found themselves tasked with more domestic roles. The sight of pops with strollers in the park at 11.00 am on a weekday happily predicting a new normal where family life wasn’t reduced to seeing the kids for an hour before bedtime.
Going from workday tailored chic to the ease manifested by joggers and sweatpants - however fancy or expensive - became addictive for the work-at-homers and reflected a sartorial pivot towards comfort that many may, given the relaxed sensibility of the elastic waist and baggy bottom, find hard to give up.
Breadwinner to Loaf Makers
In the early days when making sourdough, along with pickling, offered the productive way to make use of your time while honing our pioneer skills, others decided that simply supporting their local artisan baker and their sourdough “mother” was equally rewarding.
Dye-hard to dye-not.
In the wake of our hairdressers being shuttered for months on end, growing out one’s natural hair (or unnatural) colour into its true shade of white, silver, or ashy blonde, proved itself to be a necessary pivot, and nobody was scandalized. Indeed, newborn silver foxes, tired of doing their roots, breathed a sigh of relief: “done”.
Self Care to Community Care
Self-care continued - online meditation, yoga and mindfulness and DIY mani-pedi - playing their part, but in a sweet “pivot” away from the intense “me-time” of “stay at home” many found that “doing good” within the community – whether making soup for community larders or sewing up masks for social agencies and front line workers - was equally empowering and nourishing.
Living in a confined space 24x7 with neighbours you share a wall with, you may have found yourself pivoting from annoyance to patience, i.e. suddenly you could listen to you neighbour’s 12 year old son rehearse trumpet without ever suggesting he find a park to practice in. (A tip: conscious breathing helps, as well a being mindful that they can probably hear your morning “Oms”.)
As living became more local, and all of us became strangers under our masks, being friendlier became an imperative. The pivot: Saying a cheery “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening” or nodding to someone familiar (or anyone!) we passed on our local streets invoked a traditional yet often forgotten grace appreciated by all while creating a sense of “we’re in this together” solidarity.
From Smiles to Smiling Eyes
Our smiles hidden by masks, the pivot to showing joy, was to have smiling eyes. Unavailable at any beauty counter, one option was to raise your eyebrows (one at a time if you could do it).
From Dining Out to Ordering In
Not perhaps a pivot, but a good and welcome gesture. When no longer able to dine in at your Friday night go-to bistro, “take out” and “order in” kept our bellies purring, and our favorite chefs working.
Malls to Nature Studies
Where malls may once have been your Saturday walkabout, once boarded up you pivoted to the mall of nature. Woods, forests and even that urban park, offering something more naturally nice. When walks in nature not available, floral bouquets – often dried (the hipster’s choice) – and indoor plants – particularly snake plants, became the thing.
Life in Pieces
With social life curtailed, and relief from an overabundance of screen time (aka “scream time”) being required, we pivoted to games. Since most needed players and people were often alone, joy and frustration was often found in the exotic landscapes and puppies of 1000+ piece jigsaws. Some were even finished.
Solitude not being an option, people pivoted from hanging out with their bestie to hanging out with their petsie - cats, rabbits, but mainly dogs - possibly for the reason that if it ever came to curfews, humans + pup had the license to stroll. However, since dogs come woof their own kind of love, any such excuse quickly became overshadowed by the joys of finding yourself with the perfect walking/hiking/sleeping/ companion. The benefit: hundred of pups that had been lost or abandoned suddenly found loving homes – while shelters found themselves emptied.
With more time to consider the impact of things, and the availability of plant-based goods increasing in our retail stores, it became easier for our diets to deepen our pivot towards alternatives. One simple switch – say from cow milk to oat milk or even from almond to oat - marking an awareness of options that were more sustainable, environmental and humane.
City Life to Country Life
The “move out of town” pivot that that traded convenience for early morning cheeps. But since life had become rapidly remote here was a pivot in which you discovered nothing was lost – except perhaps the late night convenience of the corner store.
I agree I have had to Pivot more than once, in the last year, but how I approach and deal with a setback has been a learning experience, an open mind and asking questions has helped. The struggle I face is the not knowing or uncertainty of what the future holds is a challenge for me.
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