The concept of a “pivot” has steadily worked its way into our vocabulary since the 2011 introduction of the book, The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries.
A pivot has been used to describe a variety of things – even the change in agenda for a meeting that’s drifted off course.
But this is no willy-nilly switching of a game plan on a whim. A pivot in this context is defined as, “…a structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product or strategy.”
This more rigorous definition of a pivot can be very useful in an approach to a phased retirement.
One key premise of The Lean Startup is to quickly discover how viable a new product or service will be with customers through actual experience. This is in contrast to working for months or years on a new idea and then unveiling it to the market in the hope that it’s successful…without any real customers along the way.
A phased retirement is a similar approach. You have a plan in place for your retirement – and you start to implement it over time. You “test your hypothesis” about your retirement through actual experience. Do you really like part-time consulting work? Do you enjoy that hobby as much as you thought you would?
Given my writing about a gradual retirement, I get some good-natured heat from friends and colleagues when the steps I’m taking in my own career don’t always align with winding down. But with each decision I have more experience and a better understanding of how and where I want to spend my time.
If your career is a 100-mile journey it’s good to have a complete 100-mile map. It’s even better to stop after 10 miles, assess your progress and new learnings, and make a “structured course correction” (aka a pivot) if it makes sense.