My last feature was about embracing change- or, as I wrote it, curbing your “pre-change” anxiety by looking for possibilities and opportunities in change. I am now a little less than two weeks into balancing my grad program, professional job, and commuting to the city everyday, and I have realized something important: embracing change is just phase one; phase two is adapting to that change.
Phase two is a little trickier than phase one because you are forced to reflect whilst in a state of minor (or maybe major) shock at your new environment, circumstance, schedule…what-have-you. You are balancing new roles, responsibilities, and time-lines, all while trying to incorporate time and energy for your passions, and live with balance and sanity. I find this process can be made a little simpler with a few key steps.
(1) Write down your priorities: Choose you top (aprx. 6) priorities are write them down. For me, at the moment, those are, (1) health and exercise; (2) class and homework; (3) socializing; (4) work/career; (5) romantic life; (6) relaxation & re-cooping (In no particular order). Although on my typical day I am out the door by 6:45 a.m. and coming home at 10:00 p.m., I am trying to balancing my priorities within that frame. Its not a perfect system, and I may be slightly slacking in each of the 6 categories, but I am working on it. When you know your priorities, its easier to feel confident in your routine (especially as that routine becomes more crammed and hectic) because you can be assured that your valuable time is spent in a way that is in line with your core values.
(2) Accept being uncomfortable (for a little while at least): When you start something new, it may not feel comfortable immediately, and that’s o.k. You should allow yourself a period of “transition” time to work out the kinks of your new situation, and make changes where you need to (see number (3)). Understand that in any new situation, you will be faced with unforeseen challenges and benefits- that’s inevitable! Your strength will be in your ability to manage those new variables and adapt. It’s totally normal and expected to feel uncomfortable at first.
(3) If something isn’t working, fix it: If you feel like something really isn’t working in your new situation, you don’t need to be dragged down by your circumstance like its an anchor! I know it doesn’t always feel this way, but trust me, you can find a way out of a bad situation. Think about this: if you missed the correct exit on the highway, you wouldn’t just keep driving straight the way you are going, right? You would turn around, count your losses, and find your way back to the correct exit. Believing I have the control and ability to make positive changes is something I personally struggle with, but something I cannot stress enough. For example, for me, these past two weeks I have struggled to incorporate healthy eating into my schedule. Its simply hard to do when you have to pack both lunch and dinner, and when class runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each night. This routine has resulted in eating way to little during the day, and then power-eating (a pleasant way to say attack the cabinets) in the evening. So I identified the source of my problem, and now I need to fix it. Maybe that means trying to pack bigger lunches and more snacks to thwart late-night hunger; maybe it means planning more on Sundays…I am not sure yet. But, as I said in number (2), change takes a little time to adjust to, and that’s o.k. Take the time to adjust aspects of your lifestyle so that it works for you. Above all, be kind to yourself: its o.k. if you pass your exit; just make sure you try to get back on the right course eventually.