Just as I expected (and shared 2 weeks ago) the start to this semester was hectic. Actually, because of what we hope is a set of unique circumstances, it was the most unsettled semester beginning I have experienced. In fact, what is usually a first-week phenomenon extended through the end of the second. It goes without saying that the past two weeks have been stressful.
If the normal chaos of the first week of classes wasn’t enough, a somewhat nasty storm system dumped several inches of snow just before Wednesday’s afternoon rush-hour. Less than 1/2 of my 5:30-class students showed, and by the time I left campus at 6:45 for, the interstates were covered and treacherous. My entire drive — interstate all the way — was made at no more than 45 mph on snow-covered lanes, and my normal two-hour commute stretched to double that. Thankfully, roads were cleared overnight and the next morning’s commute was back to normal.
Finally, while driving home from a night class on Thursday, I felt the frenzy of the past two weeks was over and everything was finally settling into place . . . for me, at least. It will take some students much longer to get into a routine that works for them. Sadly, some never will.
I contemplated that concept — that some will make the adjustments necessary every semester and be successful while others will do neither — much of the drive home, and I considered that the same thing happens in and outside of the workplace.
Some people adjust to a new boss or a new job; others do not and end up leaving or, worse, being asked to leave or fired. Some people adjust easily to a move to a new neighborhood, town, or state (even country), and make new friends, find a church home, and become part of their new community quite quickly; others never make their new home a true home.
That led me to ponder what makes the difference. What is it that causes some people to adapt to new situations easily while others struggle and even fail.
One important difference-maker is attitude. We’ve all read quotes and see posters about the importance of attitude, and while they might seem cliched, the idea that what you expect is what you will get is, by and large, true.
Another difference-maker is work ethic. Adapting to new circumstances takes work. If a person is content to sit back in their new cubicle or office or home and wait for others to come to them or to somehow magically learn about their new environment while being sequestered from it, they will never learn and make the necessary adjustments. Instead, they must get out, meet new people, learn the new territory, and make it their own. Some people find that an easy task and are invigorated by it, but others find it to be daunting.
Self-image and self-confidence are other factors. A person who lacks self-esteem is far less likely to make the proverbial steps outside their comfort zone needed to learn about and fit in their new place.
Another factor that came to mind was flexibility. We’ve all known or worked with the person whose mantra was “Well, at my old job/town/church/______ we . . . ” While it may be helpful, when brainstorming a new procedure or plan, to share an experience from a prior job/church/etc., the time to do that is after you’ve settled into the new. When adapting to the new situation, it’s important to be open to and accepting of new ways of doing things.
There are other factors, of course, but these were the four that stood out to me on my drive home. I jotted them down, and I’m putting them out here so I can come back to them in June or July, when I’m settling into and adapting to my own new environment.
This impending move has been on my mind throughout the month of January as (to complete my 16 in 2016 January challenge) I opened and sorted through every box, bin, closet, drawer, etc., in the house — even the stuff in the basement — and donated and threw away anything I don’t love and/or use.
I wanted to lighten my physical load as much as possible. It’s going to be hard, though, to lighten the emotional load. But for now, I’m not going to worry about that. Instead, I’m going to enjoy every day I have in this house, in this town.
And in June, I’ll adjust my attitude, roll up my sleeves, square my shoulders, and prepare myself for change.
16 in 2016 — I completed my challenge!!
Write 365 — I wrote every day these past 2 weeks, primarily in my journal, but this coming week I plan to add “in my new book”.
52 Books — I actually read more than 1 book per week; books are my antidote to chaos.
January 17-23 Tombstone Courage and Desert Heat — both byJ.A. Jance
January 24-31 Murder in Gramercy Park and Murder on Lenox Hill — Victoria Thompson
A Killing in the Hills — Julia Keller
A Window Opens — Elisabeth Egan