What’s a Pivot Point and What Can It Tell You?

Today on the “find yourself” journey we examine pivot points. What are pivot points exactly?

A point in your life when you made a big decision. Where you pivoted into something different. 

You can listen to this podcast episode for more info on the inspiration behind this exercise.


  1. Tell your life story to someone. Bonus points if that someone is me. Have I mentioned I am bored, love talking with people and have a lot of time to kill? #FosterParentInWaiting
  2. Then identify the pivot points where you actually made a decision, took a stand, etc.
  3. Name what the pivot point says about you/your values. Why did you do that thing? Make that choice?
  4. Use those nuggets of wisdom to identify what’s important to you and leverage them in making future decisions.

Now for the example done backwards–

My “Nuggets of Wisdom”I want to continue choosing life experiences that tie back to 7 themes I uncovered in no particular order:

  • KINDNESS: I am an injustice fighter and love to help others. If this isn’t a part of my life in some way (even small) I just don’t feel whole.
  • MEANINGFUL CONNECTION: I am fiercely loyal to people over places or things. I relish in opportunities to connect truly & deeply with other human beings and maybe even lead them someplace good & meaningful.
  • STRATEGY: I like to think big and strategize way far ahead in my life, career, for other businesses, etc. I’m down right calculated. If I don’t have a future vision, goals and a long-range plan to get myself or someone else there I feel lost. Kind of like right now… Eek.
  • LEARNING: I like newness and variety. I love to learn. Any day I learn something new is a freaking. awesome. day. I get bored easily otherwise. Enough said.
  • FINANCIAL SECURITY: This is crazy important to me and I was denying just how much until I did this exercise. Some of my siblings don’t understand why I am so cray cray about money. We all had the same parents, right? But I grew up at a very volatile time in my parent’s business (and subsequently, their marriage) that shaped the rest of my life’s choices enormously. More on that in the full life story if you’re in for the long haul.
  • “ALL IN” MENTALITY: I am in or I’m out. I believe or I don’t. I can’t do things halfway. I literally don’t. know. how. I also like to do things the absolute hardest way possible because it feels way more meaningful and like I’m really growing that way. Otherwise I get bored and/or quit to find a different way to grow & push myself.
  • ART & SCIENCE BALANCE: I am at my best when I have people and numbers problems to solve. If I am lacking the challenge professionally I admittedly tend to create a problem personally so I have something to solve. For example, right now I don’t have enough number problems to chew on. So I spent an impromptu hour on the phone with my financial planner asking a billion questions about our investment portfolio. Sweet Jesus. I need a numbers problem to solve in my professional life before I look at our investment allocations for the billionth time. I think she wanted to punch me in the face (we had met for 2 hours just a month ago), but instead just politely asked “So…when are you going back to work full time again?” LOL.



Oh! You wanted to see how I actually got to these 6 juicy tidbit conclusions of insight from my whole life story? Well, aren’t you a glutton for punishment! Here you go….


My Life Story in 24 Pivot Points 

K – 8th Grade: Let’s be real. No big decisions were made here with any of my own personality shining through.

9 – 12th Grade Pivot Points:

  • Overall, balanced engagement in academics, sports, music, volunteering and other extracurricular.
    • I like variety and change. Need it desperately to hold my attention & interest. I also value being “multi-lingual” engaging people regardless of their interests. We can geek on music, sports, 4H, forensics, etc.
  • Created “Move the Music” benefit concert for my high school’s music program!
    • I am big on fighting against injustices and giving voice to the voiceless. Our athletic department was getting all the funding and the music program was getting cut short. So I got creative, rallied a team of students to create a solution for it.
  • Went to Latvia to teach English 2x in the summer months.
    • I am strategic (some might even say calculated). I saw how much my older siblings were struggling to pay for college and I didn’t want this to be my experience. I wanted to “differentiate myself” 3 years later when I would start applying to college. I knew international experience would do that. But I also was hugely excited (and nervous) to learn by seeing the world at the young age of 14.
  • Joined the golf team and played all 4 years.
    • Never played golf a day in my life before this. It was a new sport to our school. And I love to learn! But I also knew it would be a good “business skill” (strategic/calculated thing coming out again) to have down the road. Or at least that’s what my brother-in-law told me. 🙂
  • Started teaching piano 3 nights a week after school grades 9 – 12. I even  dropped out of basketball to take on more students in 10th grade.
    • Financial Security. Learning by teaching others. You’ll keep noticing these themes. I’m highly motivated by both and I can’t deny it. From a young age my decisions have been based on opportunities to have both.
  • Worked in St. Paul every Saturday cleaning penthouses as soon as I could drive until age 22.
    •  It paid really, really well for a kid my age. In my middle & high school years I witnessed my parents fight about money daily. My dad was in the “growth” phase of their company pouring all kinds of money into buying more farm land remortgaging all the land they had just paid off. It stressed my mom out to no end. Fights and threats of divorce near daily as he bought Simon’s Farm, Doberstein’s Farm, Pribnow’s Farm…the list goes on. He wanted to achieve economic scale and continue building a larger legacy for his kids. My mom wanted to stop having to figure out what bill could wait to be paid for the first time in her life. Dad won. But more importantly, I won a valuable lesson. I didn’t want that stress to be my future so I started seeking out financial security (and a crazy high level of it) very young.
  • Choosing St. Kate’s for college.
    • The scholarships (ie: financial security). Straight up honest. Thank God I ended up loving it too!


  • Decided to major in sales instead of “helping” profession (teaching, social work, etc).
    • My sister once asked me “who do you trust more to do the right things with the money you could make in business? You or the person sitting next to you in your accounting class?” The answer was always me. No offense, ladies! I wanted to make the money that was then used to do good (ie: donating a lot to charities I care about). But I was clearly torn on also being the hands that do the good directly.
  • Pitched General Mills to interview me for an internship.
    • Again, I value newness and doing things the hardest way possible. I also wanted to help my college develop a new and meaningful connection to expand their corporate network. They interviewed me even though I wasn’t from their partner college and offered me a job but…
  • I chose the 3M internship over General Mills.
    • The people. 3M had Jimmiee Gaulden. Enough said. And 3M had the “do it the hardest way possible” factor. Being a woman in industrial sales felt a lot harder (which translates to “more rewarding” for me) than the food industry did.
  • Getting married.
    • Family, relationships, and my desire for meaningful connection long term. Plus, Nate is pretty amazing. Obviously.
  • NOT moving to the East Coast to continue in sales with 3M and take a job with their distributor locally instead.
    • Again, family & relationships ruled out. All of my siblings are less than 45 minutes away from me.

Post-College Life

  • Decided to quit sales after 2 years & work at the family farm (again).
    • When your boss tells you “I don’t want you coming here again by yourself. I don’t know if you’re safe” you know you need to go. I sold into military and other government accounts that were often ruled by grossly inappropriate middle-aged men. I wanted people to buy from me because of my mind & the strategy it craftednot because I was the prettiest young woman that showed up in their building that week. Industrial sales ended up being a bit more than I could chew when one of my best customers began calling my cell phone after hours making inappropriate advances and shutting the door moving in close during each sales call. I also knew I wouldn’t be able to stay in sales long term and grow my career unless I was willing to relocate every 2 – 3 years. I valued my family too much for relocating that often. Plus my parents (ok, really just my dad) were struggling with a major decision—invest $20 million into a new dairy operation or exit that part of their business? Going back to the family business was a good excuse to exit sales and get away from the inappropriate male clients I was calling on.
  • Decided to quit the farm and work at Company T.
    • Working in the family business was (still is) challenging. Sometimes relationships are better when you’re not together all the time. My dad made the decision to exit the Dairy side of the business which cut the employee count 65%. It was time for me to look for a job where I could stay local but grow my career again. I chose merchandising because it was the “center of the universe” and a great place to start , learn and then see where I wanted to go in the company long term.
  • Becoming a runner and going from first 5k to marathon in <1 year.
    • My health is important to me and I felt unhealthy. So I started with a 5k and went for a marathon in a year because I am ALL. IN. I don’t do anything in life halfway. And I really like to do things the hardest way possible.
  • Becoming a triathlete and going from first olympic distance race to full Ironman race in 11 months.
    • I really value challenging myself to the extreme. I had a lot of limiting beliefs (still do) about what I am and am not capable of. For me the best way to break them is to face them. I was not “the kind of girl who…” trained for an Ironman. So I did just to prove myself wrong. And I didn’t know how to swim when I first set out on this goal which brought a fun learning factor.
  • Getting laid off from Company T and decided to work at Company U.
    • I wanted financial security. Finding a job quickly would give me the opportunity to use my severance to pay cash for some remodel projects around our house. So I jumped fast. Plus they were one of my favorite vendors and still a major company that I thought I could grow with long term..maybe even into some international assignments some day.
  • Decided to leave Company U and go back to Company T.
    • I missed leading a team and the meaningful relationships that created. And I did not feel challenged in my role at Company U. On the flip side, there wasn’t a day that went by at Company T where I didn’t feel a new challenge/learning opportunity present itself. I know I could create my own new challenges and I did. But the “strive for more” culture was just a bit deeper at Company T. And I liked that. I’m a glutton for punishment.
  • Decided about a billion times over the last 9 years to NOT actively try to have children.
    • My career was (is?) really important to me and I was scared children would jeopardize that. No woman should have to face that. But the reality was I saw very few women at Company T who chose to have children before Director and still made it to that level.
  • Decided to leave Company T to do…? I’m still figuring that out I guess.
    • Lots of people died around me the 4 months prior to my leaving Company T. When I heard people speak about them I thought “Yikes. No one would say those nice things about me if I died tomorrow. I’ve become a stuck up selfish bitch prioritizing only my career and it’s time to change.” It was time to live a life full of more variety than just my career.
  • Decided to try coaching & entrepreneurship.
    • I missed people, meaningful connection and talking about life’s “BIG” questions. Turns out I AM actually an extrovert.
  • Decided to volunteer at Jeremiah Program in a big way.
    • I missed fighting for injustices and helping others but I wanted to do it in a more strategic way than I had in the past.
  • Decided to become a foster parent.
    • Family and fighting injustices is important to me. I had put off becoming a parent too long and it was time to get started but in a way that resonated more deeply with me than just pulling the goalie. Yeah. I just wrote that. LOL. But seriously—this ties in really well with how much I love to do things “the hardest way possible” just to continue growing and face my limiting beliefs that sometimes tell me I can’t.

So what are your pivot points? And what do they tell you about yourself?

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