Graceful transitions

Photo by Braden Barwich on Unsplash

Graceful Transitions

With the 2018 Winter Olympics just behind us, I was thinking about what I heard a skating commentator explain about pairs skating. I don’t know much about the sport but the commentator said pairs need arrange their choreography in a way that allows them to make a distinct transition right in front of the judges so they can evaluate their precision and ability to shift gears so to speak. It got me to thinking about our own transitions: in my case, good thing there’s no panel of judges watching me all the time!

Whether we are changing jobs, moving into a new phase of life or have moved to a new geography, sometimes we stumble. It’s not always graceful and seamless. But, as long as we put 100% into it and are clear about intent and desired outcome, usually we can feel good about it.

Speaking of graceful-or-not transitions, starting today I’ve moved the blog to a new schedule. Instead of two Thursday afternoons a month I’ll be queuing up each post to hit twice a month on Monday mornings to offer some perspective on the upcoming work week.

The timing switch is driven largely by my big transition: I’ve accepted a new full-time job with a pretty amazing PR firm. It’s not what I envisioned doing twelve months ago, yet when I inventory what I wanted most out of my career at this stage it’s all there: firm leaders truly want to help their team succeed, there’s flexibility, a chance to contribute at the highest level and be creative as I build a book of business.

As I’ve been making this gradual transition from part-time to full-time over the last six months, and I’ve been keeping up a heavy networking schedule, it hasn’t always been easy to make graceful transitions. I wasn’t always sure what to say or what I even wanted to do at certain events. Was I inviting someone to read my blog? Partner with me? Learn more about my PR firm? Was I approaching corporate types or individuals?

When I launched this business last year, I thought I had done a lot of work figuring out my “why”, developing my ideal customer profile and really honing my offering and my story. As the year unfolded, I realized while my story resonated with a lot of people it might not be ready to be a standalone business. Eventually I found myself having a really hard time giving the elevator speech I created. It stressed me out for a while but then I realized sometimes life leads us right where we are supposed to be. After this “sabbatical” I’m now armed with some great insights to apply to the way I work. As a result, I thought I’d share a few.

Always assume every new experience will present you with the opportunity to learn something new. Once I passed the 25-year mark of my career (wow – yikes) I wondered what I would learn. Had I only known! Every new assignment is an opportunity to learn. Maybe it’s not a subject but it could be about a person, a trait, or a new way of working. I’ve made a promise to myself that I will learn something new from every facet of my work every week.

Know your why for networking. Or doing anything for that matter. Otherwise why do it? For a long time, I worked WAY too hard in my new area to make friends, establish a professional niche and get my name out there. Networking was sometimes forced and I felt like I had to accept everything that came my way. Once I had time to think during last year’s transition, I realized my approach wasn’t working because I was trying to replicate what I had in Boston rather than create something new and amazing where I am. (And btw I’m still not sure exactly what it will be like here but it’s taking shape in a really exciting way. And that’s a good thing!)

It’s okay to return to your normal. This is a tricky one; we are all so primed to advance, better ourselves and change that sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy what and where we are. So as we climb the ladder, advance in our career, we don’t stop to think “Do I like where I am?” “Did this promotion do for me what I’d hoped?” Interestingly, to the outside world my new role is a little bit of a step back; less responsibility, less senior in title and smaller organization. Yet, it comes with more creativity, latitude, personal responsibility to make things happen and support from the top than most of my previous roles dating back almost a decade. It will allow me to contribute at a truly high level rather than moving through each day with my hair on fire.

People say change is the only constant and I can say with certainty the last five years have proven that for me. But today, I’m much better equipped to handle it all even if I stumble.

Have you stumbled and recovered? I’d love to hear about it.