Preparing to Pivot: Steps for When You Restart 🔄

Earlier last month in the beautiful auditorium of the Grand Rapids Ballet, a crowd of creators stood up, put our heels together, and pointed our toes, struggling to maintain balance. A few Elevator Up team members were amongst the crowd at this local Creative Mornings meeting. If you’re not familiar with Creative Mornings, they are “a breakfast lecture series for the creative community.” With gatherings all over the country and world, they bring in experts on a variety of topics and engage creatives in conversation on a theme. Last month’s theme was Restart. At our local meeting, we heard from James Sofranko, the new Artistic Director of the Grand Rapids Ballet. It was a fascinating keynote. He shared the details of his career and engaged our imaginations about what is possible when you let yourself dream beyond your present situation.

Restarting seemed like an odd theme for November. I thought perhaps it is more apt for the new year? But as I returned from the event and mulled over the conversation, I reflected on how timely it actually is. Sofranko also noted how cyclical our lives are and reassured us it’s okay to restart often. He shared, “Restarting and trying again is just part of the evolution of an artist.” My own life and career have been full of those restarts recently and I think there are some takeaways for us all.

EU designer, Jen, took beautiful notes during Sofranko’s talk.

Personally, my 2018 was full of restarting. When my partner finished graduate school early this last summer, the world was our oyster. We sent job applications to Maine, California, Texas, Washington, and about 25 other states. “Let’s dream big and make the most of this opportunity to restart!” we told ourselves. We loved our lives in New Jersey, but we wanted our next season to be an upgrade.

Isn’t this a common motivator for restarting: moving on to bigger and better things? Maybe you’re pushing for a career move that is a new rung on the success ladder. Maybe it’s a change in location in an effort to be healthier. We are motivated by the promise of new. While this type of restarting brings fresh perspectives, it also introduces loss, stress, and inevitably some loneliness.

In late summer, my partner and I realized the dewy-eyed hopes for our next season were too broad. After months of discernment, we moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan and marked a major step in our restart. When I reflect on Sofranko’s session at Creative Mornings, I’m struck by how he viewed each pivot in his dance career with such positivity. Professionally he worked hard and was rewarded for it, working for the San Francisco Ballet for 18 years. Yet, to discuss restarting without acknowledging what is left behind is a missed opportunity. Let alone what to do when your initial restart effort doesn’t go as planned!

In light of these reflections, I would like to outline three expectations for those hoping to restart:

  1. Make a plan and hold it loosely 📝 Don’t leave it up to chance. Go in with a detailed plan, knowing there will definitely be unexpected twists and turns. If you roll with the punches, you’ll come out on top.
  2. Prepare for the feeling of loss 🚧 The big promotion, the new house, the career change; these amazing things come with the loss of old colleagues, the loss of familiarity of home, and the loss of feeling like an expert in your field. Some of these are temporary, but it’s important to prepare for them. Mourning those losses will allow you to be authentically grateful for the best parts of your restart.
  3. Dream bigger than you think you should 🌟 Ask yourself: if I had one year of paid time off and could do anything in the world, what would it be? Your next career pivot should move toward your heart’s true passions. Get up every morning excited for the work of the day!

Whether you are restarting from a place of security and positivity or from a place of unknown and fear, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Newness is an opportunity and the growth that can come from surviving a restart is incredible!

I’m grateful my restart led me here, to develop new teams and grow our coworking venture at The Factory. As I let myself acknowledge the loss I experienced, I make way for authentic relationships to form. Cheers to your next restart!

~Mackenzie, Community Manager