Friday, 12th November 2021
Change is an event but a transition is the process that you go through in response to the change – William Bridges
One word that would best describe 2021 for me is transition. I started a new job, completed the final assignments of my part-time course, started an advisory role on Timoney’s Board of Management and moved houses. While all these changes represent significant milestones that I am immensely grateful for, they also brought moments of apprehension and logistical heavy lifting.
When it rains it pours
So after years of waiting for these opportunities, it seems that our stars aligned in May 2021 and they transpired altogether. We had spent a full year looking to move houses, having started our hunting and bidding process in the first lockdown of 2020, while I had been keeping an eye out for a new role like this for a couple of years. As Murphy’s law would have it, the last 2 months of closing the house purchase process coincided with me getting headhunted for this new role. With the new house though, came the need for new day-care arrangements, and the thought of my toddler having to start afresh gave me more anxiety than for myself. After calling about a dozen creches, luckily I finally found one open spot, so we looked set to settle into the new house, new creche and new job. And then two days before my start-date, my work laptop arrived – a Macbook Air. You can imagine the anxiety that gave me, given that the only Apple product I have ever used was an iPod about 10 years ago! I was imagining being embarrassed on my onboarding day if, God forbid I couldn’t type out the password on the Mac keyboard – you know me joining in a senior role in a Tech company and all that! Luckily, Macbook is fairly intuitive to use, and slowly but surely I got the hang of it (thanks also to Mr Google). Later on I heard that my experience mirrored that of most others who had switched over from PC to Mac in the same way, so at least in hindsight, it’s a funny story.
Breaking it down to basics
While I couldn’t be happier to take on these new adventures, there were a lot of logistics to be organised simultaneously with both of us working full-time and with our little toddler in tow. I told myself at least it wasn’t as hard as if we were moving countries or if we were a larger family. Keep calm and carry on. So we broke it all down to the basics of getting food, sleep, day-care and work set-up in the new house before my start date. During the month of April, I spent any spare time during the week getting my head in to the space to change industries and to take over a team, while using weekends to do multiple mini-moving trips. We called in favours from friends to organise furniture, to do little repairs to the house, to get day-care recommendations for the interim, and so on. Things started to come together bit by bit.
Finding a good fit for your authentic self
Whether it was my part-time course or joining Timoney’s Board of Management team or the new job itself, my confidence was founded in the people I got to interact with within each of these engagements. The clean energy cohort was inspiring in their conscientious thinking, the Timoney group is so holistic and humanistic in approaching corporate leadership training, and the Workday community so candid and considerate at every step of the way right from interviewing to onboarding. Each of these values demonstrated during these interactions gave me confidence and comfort that I will be in good company and that everything else will get figured out naturally.
No shortcut to hard work
What I learned as a girl guide in school has always held me in good stead all along the way – Be Prepared! While it is hard to anticipate everything, each step you can take ahead of crunch time will give you more breathing room when going through any change. And so, during my notice period at the previous company, I dedicated my time to reconnect with all my network and got numerous tips on preparing for the change. Key common themes emerged and I applied myself to reading up and reflecting on those topics, mainly getting familiar with a new industry, identifying common pitfalls in taking on senior roles or in taking over established teams. The best advice I got was to observe and listen as much as possible and hold back snap judgments or the urge to hit the ground running. These conversations with my soon-to-be ex-colleagues also gave me closure and turned into a natural segue onto the next chapter without too much disruption. After starting, I kept my focus on accelerated learning about people, culture, business and organisation, while keeping an open mind and being curious, proactive and humble.
Be kind to yourself
Change is hard, and can be overwhelming but it is also energising and inspiring. I resolved to use it wisely as a window of opportunity to begin afresh but most importantly I took it easy and paced myself. Settle in for the marathon. Do whatever helps you generate confidence, get a good IT set-up, meditate, eat breakfast, show up as your best version of yourself, and most of all remember your value-add. In my case, going from my corner office (which was a corner of my open plan kitchen and living room where my husband was working in the other corner) to having a room to myself as my office was sheer luxury. In hindsight again, it’s funny to realise I worked off an iron mesh of a garden table as my work desk, compared to a proper home office set-up now. Confidence with Macbook helped too, and I created a little set of treats for myself as I went through it all. Most reassuring of all though was how easily my toddler took to the new house and the new day-care. Like with most new experiences, she hangs back at first, observes and will shy away, but then she will gradually explore her sphere of activity and interaction and soon make it her comfort zone. Children are so resilient and they go about change so instinctively – it’s amazing to watch them and it is a wonderful opportunity to learn from them.
I’d be more than happy to talk about it all with anyone who is interested, so feel free to reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org). This pandemic has taught us how transitionary everything is, and the more nimble and resilient we are, the more we can enjoy the time we have in this life.