To be honest, if you were to tell me 10 years ago that I’d be writing a blog post about how change can be a good thing, I would have laughed at you. I’ve never loved change. I can vividly remember each time my parents told me we were moving out of state and how I thought my life was over, that it was all downhill from there. Not surprisingly, my life was not over in the third grade when we moved, when we moved again during high school, or after the other big changes in my life (and I’ve been through some big ones).
No doubt, 2020 has given us all a new perspective. For us public information officers, the challenges seem to keep coming in what will perhaps be the most memorable year of our career. At the end of the year, I hope you feel stronger, more capable, and most of all – more resilient.
On top of all the communication curveballs we’ve handled this year, our longtime town manager was hired by another community; and our deputy town manager, who is also our chief financial officer and my supervisor, recently announced her retirement this January. Thanks, 2020.
If you’re going through some personal or professional changes, what do you do? For me and my anxiety, I try to focus more on what I can control and less on all the uncertainty and worst-case scenarios. Here’s my plan for coping with change, the theme of 2020.
Remember the Changes You’ve Overcome
So, we’ve already survived the onset and peak (hopefully) of a global pandemic. Many of you have handled natural disasters, horrific tragedies, organizational controversy, and a myriad of situations you thought only existed on the television show, Parks and Recreation. You have already been there, done that, and added it to your resume.
Look for the Positives
Perhaps the thing you were dreading is actually going to bring about some positive change for your organization, team, or even you.
No matter the change, you have the power to use it to your advantage. Did your city just implement new technology? Now’s your chance to learn it, master it, and add it to your skill set. Did you just get displaced or let go? This is the time to find a new opportunity or make the career change you’ve always wanted. Maybe you’ll have a new city manager or boss soon like me. This is our opportunity to work with them and be seen as an asset during their transition.
If you have a team, this is an especially important time to be positive. Let them know you’re all going to work together through this challenge and that you appreciate them. Tell them as much as you can when you can, so they don’t feel left in the dark. Just like you, they are probably feeling uncertain of upcoming changes. Even if the situation does not have a happy ending, they will appreciate your honesty and transparency.
Strive to Stay Present
Sometimes I let my knee-jerk reaction to change cloud my judgement. I wish I had a dollar for every time I stayed up late at night worrying and stressing about all the worst-case scenarios that never actually happened. I would definitely be able to retire early. Try and take the time to understand what is happening and why. Look at it as objectively as possible by asking questions, consider other people’s viewpoints, and give it some time to sink in.
Seek Out Sources of Support
During times of professional change and challenges, lean on your colleagues and the TAMIO network. I know the TAMIO Facebook Group has been an incredible source of helpful suggestions, ideas, policies, vendor recommendations, and tools for me and many others. Guess what? None of us know everything! Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions or seek advice. I guarantee there is a TAMIO member who has been through something similar who would have some words of wisdom for you.
Know It Won’t Last Forever
It may take a week, a month, or longer, but you will get through it. Just as the good days don’t last forever, neither will the challenging ones. Growth always happens outside our comfort zones. Let’s be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Molly Fox, CPC
Director of Communications
Town of Flower Mound