For most people, starting a new job can be terrifying! It's not as simple as a duck to water and it's not just about hoping that someone will be nice enough to show you where to get that much needed cup of coffee. New job jitters stems from far more than where the toilet is and where to park your car. It's about the new responsibilities, new bosses, new colleagues, new systems and new procedures. And it's about that dreadful thought that crosses your mind: What if I fail?
To combat your fear you act over confident, you've got it all under control right? Wrong! You may be setting the bar a little too high and with all those new systems and procedure, you might just crash and burn. So you bite the bullet and admit you have no clue what is going on - wrong again! Some may wonder why you were hired in the first place.
There is nothing unusual about these overwhelming concerns, and fighting through these fears can be a lot more daunting than one might imagine, and often your fear takes control of the situation in a manner that may not necessarily plot the most plausible course of action.
So how do you take control of this fear of the unknown? New job survival is a complete balancing act, like walking on a tight rope; applying adjustment and diplomacy as you go along.
Here are some tips on how to survive new job stress:
Step 1: Slow things down.
There is a lot to take in and you might feel completely overwhelmed, take it down a notch, take a deep breath and work out a logical system. Find your own pace. Once things become more familiar they will seem simpler and there will be fewer mistakes. Remember the more flustered you get, the harder you make things on yourself.
Step 2: Learn to soak it all up.
Here is where you need to use a little finesse, like the balancing act. Get a clear understanding of how the processes and procedure work in your new company. Get an idea on what exactly is expected of you. Do this with tact and avoid looking like a bit of a bumbling idiot - remember a fine balance like walking on that tight rope.
Step 3: Get your Manager on your side.
Hopefully more often than not your Manager knows the business pretty well (we hope). So use them as a guiding light. Set up a meeting, ask relevant questions that will help you along the way and highlight what is actually important. Ask your Manager to point out areas where they might see you making mistakes. Never take this as criticism, this is where the much needed guidelines will come from. Soak up the constructive criticism and apply it sensibly to your actions.
Step 4: Plan to WOW.
You have been soaking up information, discovering what your job really is all about, learning what is expected of you and understanding how to actually fulfil your role, now plan to make an impact! This does not have to be immediate, take your time; we wouldn't want you falling flat on your face. So set a goal and plan to accomplish something reasonably visible and impactful. This will also remind those important people that you're not just a sponge and there was actually a valid reason as to why they hired you, because you are actually a valuable new member of their team.
Step 5: Get down to earth.
Now as much as we want to blame our demanding job and career, those high expectations don't usually come from the people above or around you. They usually come from YOU! Most jobs are challenging enough without you still having to apply additional pressure on yourself to achieve the unattainable - remember it's your first day and Rome wasn't build in a day! By putting excessive pressure and expectations on yourself, you are making things far more difficult than they need to be and could potentially be setting yourself up for failure. To avoid disaster, come back down to earth for a reality check and things should pan out just fine.
Step 6: Facing fear vs Anxiety.
For those you of you that did not take psychology as a subject at university, fear and anxiety are two very different things. Fear is the need to run away, anxiety is the feeling where your chest is caving in. You do need to distinguish between the two. If you are truly afraid that you do not have the skills or capability to do the job properly, this is real and needs to be dealt with and you will need to address it. But if you are getting yourself all worked up over something that may never happen, stop being so anxious, you are just making things hard on yourself again. Build a bridge and get over it!
Remember, you are not the first or only person in the world to experience new job bitters. You'd be surprised how many people struggle in their first days, weeks and even months in a new job and from an outsiders perspective, once cannot always tell if the 'newby' is going to be successful in their role. Everyone learns from their experiences in different ways and often your skills or educational background might not necessarily be your saving grace. It's how you deal with these challenges and what you learn along the way that will strengthen your confidence and improve your ability to handle stress in the most graceful and professional way.
By following these survival steps you will most likely find more clarity and sense in how to approach your challenge, but remember you managed to get the job in the first place. So wherever possible, follow your gut and make your job your own. Use your initiative and ask plenty of relevant questions (there is no such thing as a stupid question).
Speak up, stand out and be successful!