by Naomi Gonzales, Senior Assistant, INALJ Virginia
5 Tips to Surviving (Institutional) Change
Recently, the institution I’m affiliated with underwent some organizational changes. It was a difficult few months for me, but I learned some valuable things along the way. The following are some survival tips for those of you dealing with a difficult work situation:
1) Acceptance – Accepting the fact that change was on the horizon and I couldn’t stop it was probably the most difficult part of this entire experience for me. Didn’t library administration realize how this would impact x, y, and z (x, y, and z all being me, of course)? I really enjoy my job and these imminent changes would definitely impact some of the parts of my job I loved best and that just wasn’t an easy pill to swallow. It took me a solid month or so before I finally came to terms with the fact that change was going to happen whether or not I wanted it to and my attitude would determine the ease of transition.
2) Worst-case-scenario – When I get upset, I tend to let myself get really worked up before I finally hit that point of “oh wait, it’s really not that bad”. Usually I hit that point because I play what I like to call the worst-case-scenario game, which is exactly what it sounds like. Although the changes felt like the worst thing ever, they really weren’t. I still had a job, I would still be able to pay my bills and loans, and I’d still be able to eat. In this instance, the “worst-case” was simply that I would have to get out of my comfort zone and be flexible (just like I said I could be in my cover letter). I recognize that I got pretty lucky in my worst-case, but taking a moment to slow down and really look at the situation can put things in perspective.
3) Leave work at work – Without a doubt, this is the most important thing to remember when going through something difficult at work. I was perfectly happy and content in my job and although I don’t usually consider myself a creature of habit, the changes being put in place by my institution were earth shaking enough for me that it bled into my personal life. I would go to work and commiserate with coworkers about the situation and then go to happy hour with my friends and grumble there too. Before I knew it, my friends and family were well versed in my complaints and I could see their eyes glaze over when I started talking about work. Don’t share that negativity with your loved ones, y’all. Leave work at work.
4) Chin up – In my opinion, one of the worse things you can say to someone who is having a bad day is “When life gives you lemons…!”. The same goes for someone in my situation. Yes, we know that we should make lemonade but really all we want to do is chuck the lemons at something. That being said, remembering that things will eventually turn a corner is key to keeping your spirits up. If the people trying to convince you to make lemonade are maybe a little too optimistic for your taste, write yourself little reminders and stick them places where you’ll see them throughout the day. It works, I promise. Some days, a note on my mirror telling me to take it one day at a time is exactly what I need.
5) Lean on me – Despite my earlier tip to leave work at work, having folks you can talk to about what’s going on is also really important. This can also include coworkers, although keep in mind that they will probably be feeling the same things you are so there is the risk of sympathy spiraling. A good support network won’t just hear what you have to say about what’s going on, but also listen and provide feedback when you need it. They can give you an outsider’s perspective on the issue and also let you know when it’s time to change topics if you’re dwelling too much on the negative.
Naturally these tips won’t apply to every difficult situation, but hopefully there’s something here you can use in whatever circumstance you find yourself!
Naomi Gonzales is the Senior Assistant for INALJ Virginia and a self-proclaimed practicing generalist. Although currently a #medlib, Naomi has experience with public, academic, and special libraries but somehow still can’t pick a favorite. She is also the current chair of the ALA Rainbow List Project, a committee that puts together a list of LGBTQ titles for ages 0-18. A Texas native, Naomi enjoys being outside (especially the desert), reading comic books, watching truly terrible television, and spending time with her two cats, both named after food. Follow her on Twitter @InMediasRes_