It’s kind of hard to believe that in a little more than a week I’ll be starting my new job as executive director for program development at Kansas State University Global Campus. 

I have to admit, now that my start date is right around the corner, I’m beginning to feel a little nervous about all the new and unfamiliar things I’m going to be encountering in the coming months. As an introvert, I know that there are going to be times when I feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can do to set up habits and routines that I can rely on as I navigate this launch into this next stage of my career. Here are some examples of the things that I’ve been doing to prepare myself for this new role:

Establishing a morning routine in advance. I’d gotten out of a routine of commuting into an office space since my last day working at OSU on January 6, so I’ve been reestablishing my morning routine in the last week or so by getting up at 5am on a consistent basis. That gives me plenty of time for writing morning pages, getting in a workout, eating breakfast, and getting ready for the day before I leave my house.

Starting healthy habits now. One thing that I know will help me to manage feelings of stress or overwhelm is exercise. For the past two weeks, I’ve gotten back into an exercise routine with strength training sessions three times per week. Once I get my treadmill set up, I’ll be augmenting these sessions with my run/walk plan. I was very intentional about getting this habit going before I go back to work so that it feels consistent before I add in fuller work days.

Making the unfamiliar familiar. With so many new people and experiences coming my way, I know I’m going to be pretty discombobulated my first few weeks of going back to work. That makes it all the more important for me to create areas of my life that feel comfortable for me. Right now, that looks like getting my home office up and running, checking out books from the library with familiar authors and characters, and cooking meals that are similar to what I was eating before we moved.

Conserving cognitive energy. A couple of days ago, our moving truck arrived. I had forgotten the amount of mental energy it takes to decide where to put everything as you are unpacking boxes. For the past couple of days, I’ve been working hard to get everything unpacked and in places that can start to seem familiar so that I’m not spending extra mental energy trying to find things once I start the new job. I feel so grateful that I have this extra time to settle in before I’m in the office full time.

Keeping my expectations realistic. I know that I’m going to need some time to get up and running with my new position and with 47 meetings already scheduled on my calendar over my first two weeks, there’s going to be a lot of information coming my way. My initial goals are going to be pretty simple: (1) take in as much information as I can without becoming cognitively overloaded, (2) process that information as quickly as possible to make room for more information, (3) ask good questions, (4) take good notes, and (5) rely on already-established skills and knowledge to organize that information in way that will allow me to make some strategic plans about how to move forward in the coming year.

Approaching the work with a coaching mindset. My work as a coach involves a lot of listening, asking questions, and staying curious. I think applying these skills to my new environment will help me to have the right approach as I’m meeting new people, learning about current processes and systems, and looking for areas where I can make a meaningful contribution to the work.

What habits and routines help you to come into a new environment prepared to be successful?