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Thriving in the Jungle: Navigating Career, Business, and Life

Not all journeys follow a straight line. We've all charted a course, meticulously planned our career or business trajectory, only to have life throw us a curveball. Suddenly, the path you envisioned seems more like a dead end. Enter pivoting: that necessary shift in direction that can feel like a desperate scramble or an exciting new adventure, depending on your perspective.

The truth is, pivoting is a crucial skill in today's ever-changing world. Careers don't always follow a linear path, and businesses need to adapt to survive. Here's the key: pivoting doesn't have to be scary, and can be an opportunity for incredible growth and fulfilment.

Perhaps it's because my father served in the air force and life was always on the move. New schools, new homes, new everything every few years – that was my childhood. As a result, I realised early on that change is the only constant. 

Now, don't get me wrong, it hasn't always been smooth sailing. I recall that teenage phase where I was convinced fashion design was my calling. Being young with a lack of information or knowledge, I experimented more than usual. However, it turned out that sketching dresses wasn't quite as glamorous as "Project Runway" made it seem. So, I pivoted – enrolled in culinary school, driven by a lifelong love of food and a burning desire to learn world cuisine.The life of a chef was a whirlwind. Long hours, demanding kitchens, the thrill of plating a perfect dish – it was everything I imagined. However, after a few years, the passion started to simmer down. That's when the entrepreneurial bug bit me. I launched my own catering business, channelling all my creativity and experience into building something from scratch.

But guess what? Life threw a curveball – COVID hit!  We pivoted with every wave that hit us, but unfortunately, the pandemic devastated the entire F&B industry for a few years. So, I pivoted again. This time, I utilised my business knowledge & skills to lead a team of designers all the while leveraging my culinary expertise to build a hospitality consultancy. Our aim? To assist/help restaurants in streamlining their operations and crafting unforgettable dining experiences. My secret sauce: the adaptability honed during my childhood has proven invaluable throughout my career.

The signs of pivot:

Looking back, I can now recognize the signs that prompted each pivot:

  • The entrepreneurial bug: While I appreciated the stability and learning opportunities the kitchen provided, I also felt drained. In 2018, after working tirelessly for 14-16 hours a day, I had an epiphany: why not invest this energy into building my own company? Inspired by my passion for food and culture, my experience in the industry highlighted a collective need for change among both myself and my peers. For the next 4 years, I worked relentlessly and tried to improve in every aspect possible. Unfortunately, the business had to be shut down due to the impact of COVID-19.

  • The "what if" whispers: The persistent “what if” question was haunting. I was questioning if there were better perks out there? Better pay? A field I hadn't even considered yet? However, often pivots don’t arise from a lack of spark or fulfilment, but from a lack of choice - for me this occurred when COVID-19 struck and the hospitality industry came to a standstill

  • Pros and Cons: Creating a pros and cons list is a great guiding source. As a detail oriented person, I meticulously weigh every decision and attempt at making informed decisions. 

  • Every time I find myself at a crossroads, the path ahead seems more uncertain than ever. Yet, I have always approached each pivot with excitement and assurity. To me, it's like embarking on a little experiment, discovering where it leads to and who I become along the way! 

How I Pivot Like a Pro (Well, Mostly):

  • Self-discovery is my compass: Before diving headfirst into the unknown, I take a good look at myself and plan for the way forward. Here are some questions you can ask yourself - :

  • What are your transferable skills? 

  • What are the problems you are passionate about solving & can it compensate for your time? 

  • What industries can you work in or are passionate about?

  • What are your financial requirements & will they be met?

  • Sharpening my skills: There's a good chance your next move requires additional skills. Being well-prepared acts as a shield against the repercussions of change. Consider upskilling through these avenues: 

  • Online courses 

  • Workshops

  • Internships 

  • Building my network: You never know who might hold the key to unlock the next chapter of your journey. While I may be outgoing and social today, I was not this person when I first started my career. I came to realise that  networking and putting myself out there was essential. During my second year of culinary school I made a list of all the European restaurants in Bangalore  and went and met all the chefs and/or owners to inquire about internship opportunities which turned out into a great opportunity for me! Reconnecting with old colleagues, reaching out to people in my desired field, and attending industry events have all played significant roles for me in building a robust network. I also seize opportunities to connect with people and attend events outside my immediate interests, seeing them as chances to learn something new. 

  • Baby steps, big dreams: Starting small helps me avoid feeling overwhelmed. During Covid, when the hospitality sector was struggling and I faced sunk costs from my company, I had to find a new path. Unexpectedly, I connected with someone on a networking app who was hiring for a role. We spoke, things fell into place, and suddenly I became the business head of a design company. Small steps can have a compounding effect; you never know what awaits you.

  • Hustle with heart (and breaks!): Pivoting demands effort and time. While I am typically prepared to work hard, learn new things, and step outside my comfort zone, self-care has been crucial for me.

Coping with the pivot panic attacks:

Let's be honest, pivoting can be nerve-wracking. Fear of the unknown, the feeling of starting from scratch – it's all perfectly normal. Here's how I deal with these jitters:

  • Feel the feels: It's completely normal to feel scared, frustrated, or even a little lost. Denying these emotions does not resolve them. I’m fortunate to have a support circle consisting of friends, professional contacts, my therapist, and my husband. I also journal and seek insights from people who have transitioned or pivoted substantially. I utilise platforms like LinkedIn and various networking groups to connect with them.

  • Focus on the positive: Pivoting can be an opportunity or a risk but both contribute to your growth! It's a chance to explore new passions and build a career/choice that truly aligns with you.

  • Celebrate every milestone: Every step forward, no matter how small, is a victory. Acknowledging my progress keeps me motivated and excited about the possibilities, not all days are rosy but having a support system that celebrates your wins and is integral.

  • Find your support squad: I've surrounded myself with positive, supportive individuals who believe in me and my abilities. Having a cheering section in my corner has truly made all the difference! Find your squad and hold on to them tightly! 

As I stand at another possible pivot in my life, who knows where it will lead to this time? Perhaps it'll be a complete left turn, something I haven't even considered yet. But one thing's for sure: I'm embracing the adventure. After all, life's a jungle, and sometimes the most breathtaking views come from the least expected paths.

This adaptability and the willingness to pivot has allowed me to navigate the twists and turns of my career. It's what's propelled me from fashion design to culinary school, from chef to entrepreneur, and finally from hospitality to consulting.

The point is, pivoting isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of resilience, of a willingness to learn and grow. It's about taking control of your career, business or even life, and steering it in a direction that brings you fulfilment and success. If you're feeling the itch for change, don't be afraid to embrace the pivot. You never know what incredible opportunities might be waiting for you just around the corner!


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