It’s no secret most of us are ready for 2020 to end. We’re exhausted from being tested in ways too numerous to count. Drawing up a list of things to be grateful for to share with our family on Thanksgiving seems pointless, and maybe even cruel. But as the days grow shorter and a bit darker, I do believe there are reasons to give thanks.

Millions of Americans have tested positive for COVID-19. We’ve lost more 250,000 loved ones to the virus. But there’s a steady stream of good news about the current vaccine trials. COVID-19 has changed the things we took for granted and the ways we live, learn, and work. We’ve learned to cope with the demands of remote learning and working from home. Senior living communities have adapted and adopted new routines in order to keep residents and employees safe, engaged, and healthy.

Before you shout “Bah, humbug,” I’d like to share why I’m giving thanks this year. As the 11th month draws to a close, it’s the ideal time to reflect on what I see as the biggest gift of 2020: The gift of pivoting.

A Course Correction

Webster-Merriam defines the action of pivoting as stepping with one foot while keeping the other foot on the floor. It’s a conscious movement, turning from one direction to another. It can be a little course correction to avoid something directly in your path, or it can be significant as you change direction entirely. Making the decision to move in any direction requires a conscious choice. A pivot means you choose a new direction. You made a choice. You took action.

Too many people are afraid of change. The most stressful life events involve major changes, both positive and negative, according to the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory. While we can’t control all of the changes life throws at us, we can choose to be proactive and how we respond to change. We can choose which direction to take. Pivoting gives us the ability to shift our momentum into a more productive direction.

Tip Toe Agility

Pivoting requires agility. Like a ballerina, you’ve got to be willing to lift your feet off the ground and use your toes. If you’re standing flat footed on the ground, you’re not going anywhere. You have to let go and commit to the new direction. Pivoting means you’re going to have to trust that the new direction is the right one. That can be scary because there aren’t any guarantees the new direction is THE right one. But there’s also no limit on the number of times you can pivot.

Our senior living clients faced a number of challenges this year. In-person events and tours were shut down in March. Suddenly, their marketing teams lost their strongest assets for meeting their sales goals. That’s when our clients turned to us and asked how our digital omnichannel approach could give them an effective alternative. The solutions varied, but included online events and tours, less direct mail campaigns, and more strategic use of targeted email marketing, display and social marketing campaigns.

Another, less obvious challenge to our senior living clients came in the form of the reports of the higher fatality rates for residents of long-term care facilities. As many have observed, our seniors have been the hardest hit group among all those infected. Sabal Group helped our clients pivot by serving as a sounding board as they sought new ways to tell their story.

Celebrate Change

Back in the day before memes, there were amusing posters telling us to “lead, follow or get out of the way.” Tackling challenges by pivoting reminds me of that axiom. We all have a choice, we can lead, we can follow, or we can get out of the way of others who aren’t afraid to forge a new path. The good news is that no matter what new direction we choose to take, we can always pivot again if our first choice doesn’t work.

As we approach the end of 2020, I hope you’ll take a moment to consider what positive changes and gifts this year has brought your way. I’ll be giving thanks that Sabal Group has helped our clients choose new paths, refine effective campaigns, and develop stronger strategies to meet the unknown.

I’d love to speak with you if you’d like to know more about how Sabal Group approaches the challenges of change and pivoting. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Thanksgiving 2020 by acknowledging all that we have to be grateful for this year.