Change is hard. Too often it means letting go of something you were good at – or loved to do. Change is also inevitable, so while you might miss what was lost, it may be an opportunity to think in different ways and find new things to love.
In 1995, I took on a position as the senior librarian in a high school. Automation was in its earliest phase, and this library already had converted to an online catalog. But my co-librarian was heavily attached to the shelf list. Even as all our records were now digital, she persisted in continuing the print shelf list record. She had an emotional tie to the familiar and was unwilling to face the logic of letting it go. Because the relationship was new, I didn’t press for the change. As soon as she retired, I got rid of the print record of our holdings.
Moving into the future carries an element of risk, and therefore fear. Librarians are change agents and lifelong learners. While we don’t want to let go of everything just because something new comes along, we need to embrace the changes that take us to the next level. Whether it’s technology, new instructional approaches, or better ways to help our teachers and students, we must be ready to move on.
For help in moving on, Fred Ende says, “Don’t Let ‘What Was’ Get in the Way of “What’s Next..” He offers several ways to do so:
Know when to move on (or surround yourself with others who do) – Moving on has several meanings here. Ende reminds us we need to move on “when simply continuing on a path will do more harm than good or when we won’t be able to accomplish what we need to do unless we change course.” This happened when the pandemic changed how we interacted with students and teachers. The old ways didn’t work. It took ingenuity, creativity and, sometimes, idea from other librarians to help you adapt.
This also refers to the job itself. For example, tenure sometimes binds us to environments that no longer serve us. Take an honest look at your position. Are you still enjoying it? Do you see any way it can improve? If the answer is no, start looking for a new opportunity (but don’t talk about leaving until you find a new position).
Embrace obstacles-to-opportunity approach – Focusing on obstacles when doing something new is likely to get you stuck. Consider where this situation offers an opportunity to do something different. What was the original end goal? What is another way to get there?
,When you look for the opportunity, you open the door to possibilities, creativity, and collaboration. If others are struggling with the issue as well, and you might end up leading the way to a new path. And as the leader, you and your program will be seen as more valuable.
Zoom out- Being stressed makes it hard to lift your head and see past the tasks at hand. Looking at things only on a day-to-day, task-to-task level results in things always being done the same way. Taking a big picture view is essential in being able to see and then let go of what is not contributing to your goals.
Ende suggests looking down the road. Where will this take you in future? Can you picture where you will be in five years with this approach? Is it where you want to be? You may not be right, but you will gain a sense of where this direction is taking you and where you may need to make a change.
There is always “the next thing” coming up. Holding on to the way things were may keep you from recognizing it and incorporating it into your practice. As they say, “When you love something, let it go.” Holding on tight never works.