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October 1, 2016 / Christian M.

You Know What They Say, Time Flies and All That Jazz: Reflecting On 1 Year on the New Job

August 1st marked one year working for the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.  What a fascinating and challenging year it has been. Normally, it is pretty easy to write my reflection posts, but this time I had to mull it over for a couple of months to think about the most poignant lessons learned and what I’m looking forward to next.

Lessons Learned…

i-will-learn

I can relocate…and thrive. At first I was going to say I relocated and survived, but I’m more than surviving, I feel like I’m thriving. Some people have commented how brave and badass it is to move by myself to a new place over 1100 miles away from all that is familiar. To be honest, I thought I would never leave the East Coast, or at least not go this far across the country. But life is funny that way, and I don’t regret it one bit.I’m still adjusting, but there is something very empowering about stepping that far out of my comfort zone, and taking on this type of life adventure. Besides, I know quite a few of my fellow early career librarian colleagues doing the same thing. If they can do it, I can do it too.

To roll with the punches. In a previous post, I wrote about how my position changed within a few months of starting the job. Adaptability and flexibility have been key to being productive and effective in my work. A big part of what attracted me to this position was the autonomy, and the ability to be a “department of one” with state outreach and education. When my job changed and I now had to spend 50% of my time focused on the UNMC campus, I went from “lone ranger” to being an integral part of the McGoogan Library’s Education & Research Services Department. I now had to shift to thinking as part of this team, and provide input into the big picture of academic medical library services. I was also somewhat thrust into some “issues” as the library faculty and staff work through some growing pains as we forge towards more innovation and greatness. But it’s working out, and I’m looking forward to all that we will accomplish together while I’m here.

I can’t do it all (I know, it’s shocking but true). In my enthusiasm to take on these two .5 FTE roles, I said yes to so many things. To preserve my sanity, I have realized that I actually need to say no sometimes (go figure). I stepped down off one library committee so far, and I have adjusted some of my responsibilities. It is not a detriment or sign of weakness to ask for help or say that I am overwhelmed.

Goals for the Near Future…

goals

 

Exercising Skills in Leadership and Strategic Planning. I currently have leadership roles in two strategic planning projects. One is with McGoogan Library. We are in the process of setting goals and objectives for the library for the next 1-3 years. As part of that process we have five strategic planning teams looking at different aspects of library services. I have been asked to lead the Outreach Team, and I said yes. My team will be coming up with strategies and recommendations for outreach activities (anything that happens outside the library’s physical space). The other project is with the Nebraska Breastfeeding Coalition, of which I am a member. NBC is also in the middle strategic planning, and I was asked to lead one of the working groups, looking at outreach to health professionals and how to best distribute educational materials to help improve breastfeeding support. I have been involved in strategic planning efforts in a previous job, but this is my first time being in a leadership role — and now I have two!

Enjoying the Moment. For the last five years, with grad school and my post-graduate fellowship, I was always planning ahead. Trying to be strategic in my activities to put myself in a good position to land a good permanent job. Now I have that permanent job, which I originally only planned to keep for 2-3 years then move on. But I’m tired…of job hunting and career planning that is. Being in that hyper-aware, resume-padding frenzy (okay maybe it’s not that extreme) takes a toll. I have a comfortable job, and I’m practicing valuable skills. I will enjoy this moment in time, and not think too hard about what’s next or how long I should stay. I am where I need to be for now.

Further Exploring My Non-Library Interests. A librarian is only one part of who I am or what I want to be. I also have interests in maternal and child health, and figure skating. Being in a smaller community has made it easier to take advantage of some opportunities with both of those interests. With skating, I have returned to coaching Learn To Skate, and I’m working on passing some more skating tests. With the health piece, I have become involved with Nebraska Breastfeeding Coalition, and have started some steps towards becoming certified as a childbirth educator. I look forward to making more community connections as I explore how my interests can best serve the needs of the Omaha area.

Being Kind to Myself. Better self care is a never ending goal. Besides the usual efforts towards more exercise, and better sleep and nutrition, I also recently started seeing a therapist. I know there is still a stigma to talking openly about mental health care. But so what? If I hurt myself physically and needed therapy to recover no one would bat an eye. I don’t have a mental illness (and no shame on those who do). Moving to a new place has brought on some self-reflection and new insight into myself, and I have identified some issues that would benefit from short-term therapy to make me a healthier and more whole person.  It is weird opening up to a stranger, but you get used to it. And it’s nice to have an objective, non-judgmental person help me work through my issues and hold me accountable for self-care activities to counteract stress. So I look forward to getting better at consistently being kind to myself.

And here is where I would make the obligatory promises to write more often. But who am I kidding? Let’s skip that and I’ll just say until next time… 😉

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One Comment

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  1. Evelyn N. Alfred / Oct 1 2016 8:59 pm

    Until next time. 😀

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