Revising old advice: dealing with change

Things don’t always go as you planned. For example, you get moved into a cubicle, the conference proposal you submitted didn’t get accepted, you bike to work and then Mother Nature decides to rain, a first date goes better than you expected, you end up having a complicated relationship with Mother’s Day, or the TV show you love gets canceled (only to be picked up by another network).

Change happens, no matter if you’re ready for it or not.

In the midst of recent changes, I remembered that I wrote a blog post for Hack Library School (HLS) back in my grad school days about this sort of change. When I wrote it in 2015, I was angry at a recent decision to consolidate the residence hall libraries I helped to supervise. We were all taken aback by this decision, and all those nicely made plans we had for the spring were abruptly changed, in order to prepare all the libraries to either close or take in the books from those closed locations. It was a real learning moment for me.

Rereading this post, I realized a lot of the advice and strategies I wrote about hold true to the situations I find myself in these days. I wanted to put out my strategies again, tweaked slightly from the original version I wrote back in December 2015.

Find a bit of optimism and hold on to it as you move forward. Being optimistic isn’t always easy but I’m often reminded of the words my dad use to say to us in sports situations, “Play next.” As 2015 Hailley so eloquently put it, “Focus your energy on making the best of this bad situation, not stewing in the ridiculousness/frustration/anger/etc. of said decision. If anything, stewing is just bad for your mental health and won’t allow you to see the ways in which you can use this change to make things better.” Find that tiny little bit of optimism you can see for the change and don’t let it go. 

Set a limit on the complaining. I think this new tip corresponds best with my 2015 advice to maintain professionalism (or being a “diva” as I have recently called it). There are some days when I just want to dwell in the negative aspects of a change and complain. Sure it’s nice to get that out there but ultimately, there’s a limit. The more I dwell in the downsides, the less I get done, and the more negative I feel. And from personal experience I know that negative Hailley is no fun. I give myself a day or so, get it all out of my system, and then move forward.

The language of the pivot is key. In my HLS post, I talked about having an elevator pitch in order to make sure folks are on the same page. Since then, I have continued to see the benefits of the pivot -- words are important in setting a message and tone. Especially for change that trickles down to folks, it’s important to keep putting forth the message of change. As I’ve learned working at Penn State, you can never over communicate.

Be flexible. If you’re not expecting change, then there will probably be a few other things that might not go as planned. You’ve got to stay agile in change, capitalizing on the new opportunities that might come from change. Again, this seems to pair well with that optimism I told you to hold on to earlier in this post.

Create new routines and set goals. In change we have a chance to do things differently. To try something we have always wanted to do, but just couldn’t find a way to do before. Think about a change like a January 1 -- a time to set some new year’s resolutions, write out some goals, start a new habit.

Seek support. The older I get, the more I continue to value my friendships and relationships. These folks see me at my best and during change, sometimes at my worst (or most diva self). They are great sounding boards, listeners, encouragers, sarcasm machines, and joke tellers. I appreciate them more than I can write in a cheesy paragraph. But change shouldn’t happen alone -- find those folks who can listen, help you brainstorm new ideas, or provide you with that nugget of optimism I keep talking about.

We all find ways to deal with change -- we bottle it up, take it out on others, or just charge forward. Sure, I wrote this blog post because I like to blog (and want to be more regular with my writing), but a small part of me just needed to rewrite this post from back in 2015. It’s a good reminder for that negative Hailley that was creeping back into the limelight. You can still find that gal, at the right time of day after the right storm of change impacts, but overall, I’m feeling like I’m ready to embrace change and keep charging forward.