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Learning how to make decisions quickly and effectively, after researching the options, is essential to thriving in all areas of our lives. Why does speed matter? And why is speedy decision making even more important after a loss?

The question comes down to whether or not you trust your own judgement on the decisions you have made. Sucessful business owners plan out the direction of their businesses, making decisions about who their best clients might be, how to market to them, how to price products and services, and how to deliver them – high touch, medium touch, low touch or products.   


Each decision takes the business down a particular path and will either work or not. It matters to make the best possible choice , based on available data, and then pivot, if necessary, based on results. The difference between pivot and hot mess is how long the business owner waits to change direction if the outcomes are undesirable. Sometimes, we stick with the original decision for too long, creating a hot mess because, if we don’t, it means we failed or we’re stupid. Sometimes, we’re trying to prove we were right to a person we admire, against all odds.   

I did this in 2007, right before the real estate market crashed down.  I bought three properties, one in Philadelphia and two in Syracuse because I had heard that real estate investing was a good way to make money quickly and wanted to prove to my father that I could be financially successful. I was a newbie investor and the properties were priced low. It should have worked in theory BUT I bought high, then  the market crashed. I was an absentee investor, relying on a property manager who ripped me off, not even doing the work, so I wound up with thousands of dollars in code violations. It was a hot mess yet I stubbornly hung in there. I just didn’t want to be wrong. By the time I was ready to get rid of the properties, desperate to be free of them, I was stressed out, scared and had lost money and sleep, on every single one. It didn’t have to be that way. Earlier action on my part would have created a different and better outcome.  After any loss, especially after a decision goes wrong, it’s hard to trust yourself and feel confident again.


When my husband died of pancreatic cancer in 2016, after I fought so hard to keep him alive for as long as possible, I felt like I failed, guilty about surviving him. Health issues like a terminal or temporary illness, financial crises or relationship breakups are all losses which lead us not to trust ourselves. What does it mean if our bodies let us down (health), we make a poor money decision (finances) or we judge who a person is badly (relationship)? It means nothing, except a single bad decision, unless that judgment colors future decisions and stops us from trusting ourselves.  If we silo that decision as an isolated incident, it’s a pivot to a new direction. If we give that decision meaning about our competence to make good choices, it becomes a much bigger problem, a hot mess. 


Right now, the pandemic has upended the economy and lots of people are unemployed, scared about how they and their families will survive. We are divided about masking, washing hands and keeping at a distance from each other so we don’t spread COVID-19 and endanger ourselves or other people. There’s disagreement whether racial justice protests are legitimate protests or illegal riots. That’s a loss too, that the United States of America don’t seem to be very united these days. We are grieving as a country  because, whatever reason is most true for us, our lives have been turned upside down by circumstances beyond our control. It’s a pivot if we can look at the decisions made on each side for what’s underneath them. It’s a hot mess if we begin to question who we are as Americans, whether we still share the same values, what determines a ‘good’ person. The longer communication is broken down, the harder it becomes to cross the divide. A hot mess situation is almost always marked by an entrenched, judgmental perspective.  


If you are not getting the outcome you want, how do you know whether you just need to pivot or do a major course correction?

  • Identify the decision and its timing which sent you down this path
  • Find the place where things started going wrong, looking at results
  • Determine if you need to pivot (issue caught fast) or deal with a hot mess (significant action needed to recalibrate path)
  • Set a new course of action (tweak decision or make a new one)
  • Park judgment, self-doubt, guilt, regrets, shame or the temptation to assign meaning to the change in direction


When I decided to date again, two years after my husband, David, died, I got on the dating app, Bumble, and wrote my profile to describe who I am as clearly as possible so a man who was looking for someone like me could find me, such as “I prefer rocky beaches to sandy ones.” Then I watched the results to see the kind of men who showed up. If they weren’t who I was seeking, I tweaked my profile or photos to attract a different person. By the time I stopped texting and started meeting in person, I only dated interesting,fun, appealing men. I found love in six months when I hadn’t dated since 1992, by pivoting to get better results.

Share below what resonates for you about this topic. If you would like to talk with me about a pivot or hot mess situation you are experiencing, schedule a call with me to brainstorm solutions: