Ballet to Business: 4 Tips for Successful Career Transitions

Whether it’s ballet or business — or in my case, both — many of us reach a point in our careers, where we realize that what once made us happy has changed and often with it our definition of success. While this type of evolution is accepted in other areas of our life, namely relationships and wellness, the idea of changing careers is anxiety inducing because we all too often identify ourselves by what we do, not who we are.

Firstly, a successful career transition involves stepping into yourself, not a role: 
 
 There’s freedom in agency and irrespective of length of your previous career or the role, itself, as long as what you choose to do aligns with who you are, any transitions will seem natural. Like pivoting a company, a life pivot happens when you’ve reached a point where your return on the investment of your time can be better spent in a different area.

Second, be honest with yourself about your Needs, Wants, and Goals.

It’s imperative to be honest with yourself about what you need, what you want and ultimately how you’re going to reach your goals, taking these items into account — this must include financial and emotional health, so that you have the energy and confidence to move forward with the career change. 
 
 Create a diagram or spreadsheet that lists these items, so you can visualize any overlap and ensure you get where you want to go career-wise.

Thirdly, spend the time necessary developing new skills.

More often than not, new goals and a career change come with the necessary development of a new skillset. You must understand and embrace the notion that competency is not synonymous with capability and if you want to change careers, there will likely be work you need to do before actually being able to interview for a new position. Often these skills can be attained through traditional or experiential learning, such as a return to school or incremental employment.

Finally, your past career has value; learn how to frame your narrative and highlight your experiences as you move into a new field. 
 
 
You are the thread in your own life and it is likely that even the most seemingly drastic career changes hold some similar values — find them and be able to communicate your story in a clear, concise manner. The overlap can range from emotional, cognitive, and communication skills to an interest in a nuanced aspect of a traditional field.

For me, I found that whether it was ballet or business that I had always possessed a penchant for entrepreneurship and would choose to work with companies that were early on, where I could take on a great deal of responsibility and have a role that would impact the initial development of the organization.