The moment you decide to take a risk or leap of faith is equal parts nauseating anxiety and excitement. If you’re anything like me, you’ve weighed ALL your options, questioned your choices a few thousand times, made a pros/cons list, and thought of every possible scenario (good and bad) to try and be as prepared as you possibly can. That is, until you realize no amount of overwhelming thinking and stress will prepare you and if this is really something you want, you’re just going to have to jump in, work your butt off, and hope for the best. Isn’t that what taking a risk is?
About a year ago, I jumped in. I made the decision to leave the only profession I’d ever known and explore something I’d always wanted to explore. I walked out of my life as an elementary school teacher and into my first days at Something Digital. It’s worth noting I wasn’t the only one taking a chance here; SD decided to take a leap of faith of their own, offering a teacher the position of the new Sales and Marketing Coordinator. However, a year later I can wholeheartedly say I’m so glad we all took that jump together.
Doing a complete 180 in life isn’t easy, and switching careers even more so. Aside from the mental and emotional transition, change requires a bit more prep than you’d expect. From the little ways you start your day to your daily commute, the skills you transfer from one to the other, it’s filled with micro changes that you never realized you needed to prepare for. Personally, I went from someone who drove to work every day, came & went pretty easily – to taking public transportation and needing to plan my days around the NJ Transit schedule (anyone taking NJT feels my pain here.) It’s almost like moving to a new city; you have to readjust and most importantly, find a new coffee shop (thankfully by SD we have about 20.) I had to sit back and think about all the little things I did throughout my day that made me productive and work my best, on top of being in new surroundings, with new people that I’d be spending 8 hours a day with, and to top it off a new industry to learn about. I went from being considered an expert to a rookie. It’s a lot. Keeping in mind our current climate, I thought of all the things I’ve learned or wish I knew when I transitioned and came up with a few things to share that made going from Teaching to Tech a little less daunting. In my personal opinion, these all apply (with some minor adjustments) to all kinds of risk taking.
1. Get down your morning routine.
This is so important. Whether you’re working from home or going into an office, get into a routine. Meditate, workout, take a shower, drink coffee by your window, spend time on your porch, change out of your pjs and do whatever it is you need to do to get yourself out of bed and ready to start the day. You’ll see your productivity change so much with this shift in the mornings.
2. Get to know your coworkers as people.
They’ll make work a much better place if you have a few people to grab coffee, lunch, or a laugh with from time to time. It’s nice to have friends at work. The social interaction will make adjusting to newness easier. You’ll also feel more comfortable asking these people for help when you inevitably need it. COVID-19 tip: set up time to talk to one another! Fifteen to twenty minute virtual coffee or lunch breaks together can do a world of good.
3. Find training and shadow, shadow, shadow!
You’ll be going through a ton of training in the first year. You’ll be learning the ins and outs of your new job and what’s expected of you. Find training to help you expand on the skills you want to work on and learn more about the new place you’re in. Shadow coworkers and see how they work, observe them. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn from them in these situations. Take the opportunity to ask them about industry specific newsletters to keep yourself up to date. Soak up all the information that you can at a pace that’s healthy for you. It can be overwhelming at first, these things make it easier.
4. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” or ask questions.
As a teacher we always tell our students to ask questions. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard “There are no stupid questions” or “Someone you know may also have the same one and be afraid to ask.” ? Fun fact: if I had a $1 for every time a student asked me a question and then 12 more of them confessed to also having the same one… I would’ve transitioned from teaching to totally private island. ASK QUESTIONS. You’re new, everyone knows you’re new, and no one expects you to know everything about everything. So say “I don’t know, but I can find out.” & ASK. No one is going to fault you for it. Plus, what have you got to lose?
5. Be kind to yourself.
You’re going to make mistakes. You’re not going to know everything. You’re going to need to adjust and navigate all the new things going on in your life which is stressful enough, don’t add to it by letting those little voices in your head get to you. You’ll figure it out. Take some time for yourself, cut yourself some slack, and take it easy. You’ll get there. Things don’t happen overnight. Over stressing, worrying, and overwhelming yourself just burns you out and that doesn’t help anyone. Be kind to yourself, this is probably the most important tip of all.
These are just a few of the many lessons this past year at Something Digital has taught me. While taking a leap of faith isn’t always easy and you can’t guarantee results, you’ll be glad you took a shot. I’m definitely happy I did.
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