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Setting Yourself Up for Success at a New Job: Overcoming the Jitters

Man waiting for job interview

Man waiting for job interviewNo matter how experienced you are, a first day at a new job is always nerve-wracking. Are you going to fit in? Will others accept you immediately? Are you going to fall in love with the job or feel sorry for making the transition?

Nervousness is completely normal during your first days, even your first weeks at a new job. Change is scary, even if you felt incredibly happy to accept the new job a couple of weeks ago. Telling you not to worry about it isn’t going to do much, since you’re going to feel the jitters anyway. Still, there are things you can do, if you don’t want to feel like fish out of water.

The Biggest Challenges You’ll Need to Overcome

New job nervousness usually stems from some of the challenges that you’ll need to overcome before you start feeling fully accepted and 100 percent productive. There are several reasons why your self-confidence left you at the office’s door:

  • You don’t know anyone: you could be missing your old coworkers and you could be feeling a little bit lonely at the new workplace. Even if people are friendly, you’ll need some time to start feeling as a part of the team.
  • Worrying about acting stupid: this challenge could keep you from asking questions and boosting your productivity in a quick manner. Many people remain silent during their first day at a new job because they don’t want to look incompetent or unprepared.
  • No idea about workplace dynamics: each workplace has its dynamics and you’ll need time to learn who’s who and what your role is. The lack of understanding about workplace dynamics could potentially keep you disengaged.
  • Feeling eager to impress: you aren’t going to be acting like your normal, rational self. That’s ok. The desire to fit in and impress is nothing but natural but it could make you come across as overly-enthusiastic.
  • Lack of familiarity with office policies: you still aren’t familiar with the workplace policies and requirements. This challenge will stand in the way of your performance and it will probably keep you from taking the initiative until you’ve familiarized yourself with all of the possibilities and the limitations.

The Importance of Communication

Being open to communication with your new coworkers is one of the most important prerequisites for starting to fit in quickly. You’re the new person and it’s not unexpected or unnatural to go up to just about everyone and introduce yourself.

You’ll probably get someone assigned to you from day one. This person will be responsible for walking you around the office, introducing you to everyone and helping you familiarize yourself with the dynamics. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even the ones that you feel stupid about. If you don’t get clarity right from the start, you’ll probably have no idea what to do.

It’s ok to feel stupid in the beginning. You don’t know where the printer is? Ask, don’t walk aimlessly around the office until you come to the wrong machine.

Be polite and let others know that you need help. Nobody is going to turn you down. In addition, asking for help is a great way to socialize and learn a bit more about the people that are willing to lend you a helping hand.

A Few Additional Tips for Surviving the First Days in a New Office

A positive attitude and the desire to communicate will help you go a long way during your first days in the new office. You can do several additional things to start feeling more confident and comfortable within a relatively short period of time:

  • Leave your professional baggage behind: starting a new job is a lot like entering a new relationship. Your emotional or professional baggage could have a serious negative impact on this amazing opportunity. It’s a new place that has its new rules. Forget about old struggles and challenges, try to give yourself a fresh start.
  • Observe: it’s incredible just how much you can learn by just sitting at your desk and observing what’s going on around you. Pay careful attention to the environment, the dynamics between people and the manner in which challenges are overcome. You can learn everything that you need to know about the workplace culture by simply observing.
  • Be realistic about your expectations: you can’t expect to become the MVP during your first day in a new office. It takes some time to build your reputation and earn respect. If you have realistic expectations, you’re very unlikely to feel disappointed or insecure.
  • Remember to enjoy everything that’s new: you’ve just started an exciting new journey! Remember to have fun. Take everything in, be open to communication with new people and enjoy the process. Jitters are normal but this doesn’t mean you should feel petrified all the time.
  • You have everything that it takes: the fact that you were hired means that you’ve got everything it takes to succeed. You are qualified and experienced. Even if you feel like a rookie, don’t forget how much you’ve accomplished already.

There’s no universal formula for starting to feel more comfortable and confident at a new job. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid of communication. This is the beginning of something amazing in your life and you shouldn’t let nerves ruin it for you. Good luck!

Wilma Derksen, C.E.C.

Couples Therapist

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