a year of lessons

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A year ago this month I celebrated 365 days in a new role at a new company. And, considering I was at the company prior for nearly nine years, it was quite a change. If you’ve read any of my blog posts in the last 12 months, you know the change was both its ups and downs but, as with most things in life — if you’ll slow down to pay attention — it’s been a journey full of lessons and learning. Here are a few of mine from the past year:

Old habits are hard to break
I still say “we” in reference to my former company. I’ve been gone for more than a year and I just did it two days ago when explaining something to a friend. This is only partially due to my tenure with the company and probably more so driven by the connection I felt with the business model and our their members. If I said I didn’t miss that part of my former job/company, I’d be a liar. Same for the people, which brings me to my next point . . .

I miss my former coworkers
Working for a company for so many years is bound to result in many friendships and, for me, this was certainly true. I considered myself extremely fortunate in that I spent my working hours with some of my favorite humans. To say this was a perk would be a gross understatement. And, if I were to consider all of the aspects of the job change that have been the most difficult, it would definitely be the absence of these folks in my life at the same frequency. While I have built relationships at my new company — and even a few friendships — I still miss my former coworkers every day.

You can take the girl out of comms, but . . . 
I am weirdly passionate about intranets, which is why my boss tells me he hired me. But, my true obsession lies in communications or, more accurately, writing. Although the last four years or so at my former company hadn’t directly included writing, I did my fair share of editing and lots and lots of communications plans and creative time. While working in HR tech doesn’t provide those opportunities organically, I’ve managed to work it in a bit here and there. Because it’s not part of my day-to-day anymore, it’s all the more reason this blog and my monthly creative writing group as so important to me.

I’ve got skillz
I can say with unwavering certainty that the past year has resulted in exponential growth in my leadership skills. And, how could it not with so many amazing leaders surrounding me from whom to learn? Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate these people and my current company’s commitment to building good leaders.

Where does the time go?
Remember how I said missing my friends/coworkers has been the most difficult aspect of changing jobs? If I were to be completely honest, there’s actually probably a pretty strong tie for first between those folks and my hellish commute. I won’t belabor this point beause I know I complain about it — a lot — but I will say that the silver lining has been with less disretionary time available, I’ve learned how to use it more effiectively. There’s now less TV in my life, more reading (thank god I’m not one of those people who can’t read on a train) and overall I’ve successfully navigated (some weeks) having about two hours less a day in which I could be doing things other than navigating. On this same note, the lightrail is a lifesaver. Even on the days I choose to risk the drive and come out on the losing end, I’m reassured better days lie ahead just knowing next time I can opt for the train.

Beauty routines are for the birds
Okay, so I never was (and will never be) the type of girl who spent hours daily on my beauty routine. Luckily I’ve got pretty manageable hair that looks good without much fuss and, although I am a daily wearer of makeup, I have a pretty simple routine. But, whatever additional morning pampering I did take time for a year ago+ has gone by the wayside. My new norm is leaving the house with wet hair and I’ve grossly simplified my wardrobe and accessories. It’s not that I don’t care about how I look anymore — there are just so many other things I’d rather spend time on than doing my hair (like sleep). And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another upside to a long commute (in addition to more reading time) is that I’ve never arrived at the office with my hair still wet. There’s that silver lining showing up again.

Influence and respect must be earned — and relationships built
When I was obsessing over the decision to accept the job offer a year ago (so many pros-and-cons lists and spreadsheets), something that kept popping up was knowing I would need to start from scratch. Obviously, this didn’t include my knowledge and skills and other reasons I was offered the position, but I knew full well the company and culture I would be entering into were vastly different from what I had known for the previous nine years. Additionally, I had worked very hard to build strong relationships and spent immeasurable time delivering on promises and products that had resulted in respect and influence. I knew without a doubt these things are not transferable and must be earned and built. And I also knew, from experience, that it would take a long time and a lot of care and feeding to get back to where I was. These areas continue to be a primary focus for me at my new company and I think I’m getting there — albeit slowly.

Dive right in — but with caution
I received a lot of advice and words of wisdom when I was beginning my new job, much of which involved the cadence at which I should listen and learn before giving my opinion and making changes. I opted for the accelerated route (which shouldn’t be a surprise if you know me) and, while I wouldn’t change this approach, I did learn a few lessons along the way. People form personal connections with their work and some (a lot) take it personally when you want to change something. If you don’t want to destroy morale or hurt the relationships you’re trying to build, keep this in mind when introducing a new way to do something. I learned this the hard way with a few things and have certainly learned a few lessons as a result.

Patience is a (difficult) virtue
Patience is not high on my list of strengths. In fact, it’s probably way down at the bottom with empathy (working on both). But, if the past year has taught me anything, it’s that you must be patient — with the situation and yourself. You can’t expect to just fit right into a new role and company on the first day. Honestly, my first day was pretty awful. If it weren’t for the kindness of one coworker, I probably would have walked out and this blog post — and the associated lessons — would never have come to fruition. I’m really glad I was patient and stuck it out though, and not just because I would have had to come up with another topic for this post. Life, and new jobs, can be difficult but having the patience to let things unfold at their own speed can work wonders in dealing with those situations. That, coupled with a bit of grace and patience with yourself. Patience is something I continue to struggle with and that may be the case my entire life, but the past year has provided many opportunities to improve in this area and I’m happy to say there have been a few successes weaved in there.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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