I’ve been travelling up and down to York for my new job over the last month and found myself thinking a lot about the concept of recalibration. Usually associated with mechanics and measurement, checking if an instrument is measuring to a fine degree of precision, I think recalibration is a great metaphor for a process of taking stock and making changes.
The biggest changes I’ve experienced in the past came about through forced recalibration – bereavement, illness, unexpected quirks of fate – all of those left me with no choice but to rethink my life. We do adapt, sometimes quickly, sometimes painfully to those changes but the trigger event is not one we would necessarily have chosen, and for me the changes weren’t thought through, I just had to live them.
About nine months ago I began a different process. A more purposive recalibration. I began to wonder whether I’d stopped as often as I should to reflect on if my life was providing me, and those close to me with what we needed. Was what had been important to us still as important, were there tweaks and changes we could make to how we live? Was the way I did things working, or was I just doing things that way because it was comfortable? I stopped and thought it’s time for a change.
I’m not sure at the outset I’d quite planned on the massive change it’s turned into (new job, new house, new city) but I definitely knew I’d found myself at that jumping off place I’ve written about before. And I’ve learnt that that initial plunge is just the beginning.
My recalibration, as I’ve started a new job and (almost) moved to a new town, has involved thinking hard about how the knowledge, skills and networks I’ve already developed fit into my new environment.
I’ve been trying to force myself to test assumptions and constantly check to make sure I’m being open to what’s new and different. There’s quite a fine line between using your existing knowledge and the lessons you’ve learnt in one place, relationship or job and falling into the comfort of old assumptions, ways of working or thinking.
I’ve also been reading Redirect: changing the stories we live by – by social psychologist Timothy Wilson (read a précis here from @brainpicker) and it’s helped me to be alert to how much my own interpretation of my life affects how I respond and react to change. It’s fascinating listening to how the little voice in my head hinders or helps me as I move in unfamiliar spaces.
It’s been hugely energising not to have an organisational memory to rely on, to be walking down unfamiliar streets, seeing different landmarks and meeting new people. The recalibration is far from over, I’m consciously checking I’m not limiting my understanding by measuring up new experiences against the old, and being open to my routines and conversations being different.
We all calibrate our lives on a daily basis adjusting to the worlds we move in as they flex and change, but sometimes I think what you really need to do is throw all the cogs up in the air and see how they fall. Exciting.
A huge thank you to every single person who’s offered kind words, encouragement, answered my daft questions at the office, or just been a supportive presence as I’ve thrown up the cogs – it’s deeply appreciated.