red rocks of southern Utah against a colorful sunset
  1. Have a human user guide or readme page your manager can refer to, and discuss often with your manager what your interests and goals are, and how they can support you best. They need the reminders.
  2. Talk a lot about what you’re working on now, and how it’s going. The different perspectives help.
  3. Tell your manager your ideas and dreams. It takes a lot of them to find the best ones to dig in on.
  4. When you bring up your challenges, be clear if you are only venting, asking for intervention, looking for advice, or needing space and prompts to work it out yourself.
  5. Shout-outs: Let your manager know who is doing a good job and why, who could use support, etc.
  6. And the biggest tip: ask them what their top focus areas are, what they could use help with, and if there’s anything they would like to brainstorm. Give them feedback if you feel safe to do that, because they also want to grow. They need that partnership.

And because there’s so much to this transition than just the work side of life, I have to also mention that I feel so fortunate to be able to spend more time with friends and family, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve had the space and privilege to support and learn as three people I’ve known passed away in the last 12 months, to take care of my mother as her health and memory challenges increase, to build and accept an identity that isn’t tied to my employer or title or zip code as much, and even to get my motorcycle license, and run my first 5k finally. And while I truly, deeply miss the tropical beauty being all around me all the time, being with my family and us thriving together wherever we are is even more beautiful.

The challenges were and are still plentiful, and it has been a year full of me working on acceptance. My biggest takeaway of all: often the best move is the next move. Just keep moving when you can. Even when the direction you’re moving towards is not clear.