A great deal has happened in the last three weeks. I resigned from one job, ran a marathon, and started a new job. Aside from the big events, there have been several smaller changes in my life. I made the decision when I started this new job that I would look at the challenges that arose as a chance for growth. Typically my response would be to bemoan the obstacles and hide from them. Here are a few of them.

  • Learning a new work culture - Every time you start a new job you spend the first week in a whirlwind. You are learning the names of all your coworkers. There is paperwork. There are hours spent getting your computer and workspace organized, more so if your personality is like mine. However, the bigger challenges are learning the processes and projects. This is the first job where I have had to keep a running log of how much time I spend on a particular project and what task I’m doing for that project. I have to learn the various locations that both digital and physical assets are kept throughout the office. Each place I have worked before as part of the IT team, I have had administrator privileges on the network. I could install applications and take care of system configurations as needed. Now I’m a regular user like everyone else.

  • Getting up to speed on projects - I spent the first couple of days learning about the various projects my department is working on. Crash courses in who the client is, what jobs are we doing for them, where we are in the process and what my role will be.

  • Getting up to speed on new technologies (or at least new to me) - My first project requires me to write a few WordPress plugins. I’ve had a good bit of experience with Wordpress but it has been a few years since I have actively developed for it. I have reacquainted myself with the documentation and have started learning the new functionality with version 3. Also, my new company is a Mac house. Before this week, I had not used a Mac for any extended period of time since my freshman year of college, fifteen years ago.

  • Overcoming muscle memory - I’m not going to get into a Apple vs Windows debate, but it has been an adjustment. The hardware and software are great, however my muscle memory is causing problems. I have learned quite a few Windows keyboard shortcuts over the last 20 years. Learning new shortcuts isn’t that hard, but it can be slightly maddening when I’m trying to find and replace some text and the command I actually enter causes all my windows to disappear.

  • Scrambled daily routines - For the last five months I have gotten up between 5:30am and 6:00am and on my scheduled days I would go for a run. Each morning I made breakfast, packed my lunch, showered, dressed and got to work by 8am. It helped that my commute was only two minutes. Then I would usually get off work about 4pm. Now my commute is ~35 minutes and many days I have not left the office until 5:30pm. I have also had bouts of insomnia so my daily routines are out of kilter. So now I’m trying to shift my schedule around to get back into balance.

  • Asking for help - As I learn this new work culture, I’m learning to ask for help more often. Much of it is because if I don’t, I will not get anything done. I like to be self-sufficient and so having to ask lots of questions and get others to install software for me is breaking some of that down. I’m also learning to work on a development team. This is the first company I have worked for that there is a dedicated project manager. There is also a creative team that does all the artwork. There are added complexities with a team but I don’t have to stress over my lack of artistic ability or wrangle people to get the assets I need. I can just do my job and put the pieces together.

So with all these small changes and challenges occurring everyday, I’m trying to keep them in perspective. If I choose to embrace these obstacles and work to overcome them, I will come out better on the other side. I believe this work will stretch me as a developer. I also believe it will stretch me relationally. I will have to work to communicate better and learn to ask for help more often.

What are you learning from the smaller obstacles or challenges in your life? Are you embracing them or running from them?