Preparing for Change

So last week I wrote a blog, after my daughter, who goes to University in four weeks, said “I’m NEVER coming home!”  Not that it’s a great surprise, as she now has a great opportunity to build her adult life and her career in a completely new and distant environment.

I wrote briefly last week about transition, perhaps too briefly.  As my daughter and I prepare for some huge changes in both our lives, I sense a chance to think about and practice doing things in the right ways myself.

OK so maybe there will be a little more (maybe a lot more!) emotion than occurs in the workplace, but that’s not to say we can’t work hard to ensure we get the transition right, just as orqanisations must do.

So the change will occur towards the end of September – the date she moves into “Halls”, the start of Freshers week, her first lectures.  She…. No! We are excited about those events coming up so soon.

The transition though is about preparing well for that change and for different activities and experiences to become business as usual after the change has happened.  No longer will my daughter be in close proximity to her family members, or people she went to school, college or her part time work.  She will go from living only with me, to living with many, of roughly her own age. And she will be amongst thousands of young people striving to realise their ambitions.  This is going to be very, very different.

So how to prepare for such a huge change. Well we already have a wealth of communications from UCAS and the university that will help her to visualise what to expect and what to organise for.  So in the next few days we will be going meticulously through that information and planning what needs to be done.  Strong communication between father and daughter is going to be key, to ensure that everything that needs to be considered and done is achieved successfully and nothing is forgotten.

Already we have the Halls of Residence sorted which is a big plus at this stage.  And her grandparents have already given away some of the basics she will need, like cups and cutlery.

I think the key though is about helping her to visualise her new life.  Fortunately we got some great insight in our two visits to the University and she fell in love with the place – undoubtedly a big help.  The Facebook Freshers page has announced a series of events in the first two weeks that she can start to get involved in. Other Social Media activity is already helping to connect new students with each other, and surely some of these people will become her new friends.

These will all help to prepare my daughter for a wealth of new experiences, despite just a tinge of nervousness until she gets settled in.

But this is not about throwing out the old as she prepares for the new.  Transition done correctly will allow her to celebrate what has gone before as she enters a new phase of her life.  Some of her current friends will remain that way and they will meet up again in holidays. And I reckon she will wish to take with her some of her favourite things, like movies, music, books and maybe a soft toy or two.  Undoubtedly hanging on to some familiar parts of her life will help her to adapt to her University life, 200 miles away until her new unfamiliar experiences turn into normality.

Such processes are not dissimilar to those that can be applied in businesses and organisations as they seek to deliver change and transition well.  The change is a short term event that means we have to do some things differently.  The transition is about how well we adapt to that change and how strong our performance becomes as a result.

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