Originally authored by Steve Errey at The Muse
You walk through the door on the first day of your new job, and there it is: that shrinking fear that tells you that you don't know anyone, you don't know how things are done, you don't know who to talk to, and you don't know how friendly or over-the-top professional you need to be. You don't even know where the good coffee is.
And for many of us, that’s just the beginning. Starting a new job can stir deep feelings of anxiety, making you feel as though you’re on the outside, not good enough, or smaller than you really are.
But, the sooner you can face those fears, the sooner you can dive in and start making an impact. Here are five helpful ways to keep those nerves at bay, ease your fears, and feel more confident at your new job.
Walk into a new job with your body full of tension and your fists (even metaphorically) clenched, and you’ll not only stress yourself out, but you’ll also put everyone else on edge, too. You'll be short or snappish with people because that's how your body is. You'll be less inclined to open up with new colleagues because you're in self-protection mode. And you won't be in a place to do great work because you're so focused on yourself.
Your body's a great mirror for how your mind is, so if your body is tense and anxious, there's a good chance it's because that's how you're feeling. So relax. Loosen your shoulders. Breathe naturally. Listen to your body, and when you feel it becoming tense or tightening up, make a deliberate choice to loosen up and relax.
2. Remember Why You’re There
The scariness of a brand new job in a big new building can easily make you forget what you're doing there in the first place—all that excitement and buzz gets swapped with fear and trepidation.
So, it's helpful to remember why you're there. Right off the bat, remember that you're at your new workplace because you were selected—among all the dozens of candidates—as the best person for the job. Your employers have faith in you and want you to succeed, and their job is to help you flourish in the role.
Secondly, remind yourself why you got excited about landing the job. Whether it’s because of what you get to do, how you get to grow, the value you get to bring, or the difference you get to make, those are the things to focus on and remember.
3. Trust the Process
In any new role, there's pressure to perform right from the start, whether that means finding the best solutions, providing the right answers, or impressing the right people.
But perhaps the most important thing to remember in any job is that you don't need to have all the answers. In fact, acting as though you do is really just using bluster and hubris to keep people from thinking you're not good enough.
Nobody expects you to know everything. And when you’re faced with something you don’t know about, sometimes the brave thing to do is to tell people you’re still figuring things out and that you’ll get back to them with an answer. Then, trust yourself enough to use everything you’ve got to navigate through one step at a time.
4. See Them as People, Too
Part of the fear of a new job is comparing yourself to others and thinking that everyone around you is better in some way; that they know more or do more or are capable of more.
But, of course, that's just your brain making stuff up. Everyone around you is incomplete and imperfect. Everyone has their own strengths, weaknesses, wins, losses, history, and potential. And comparing yourself to those people and automatically making them better is just a strategy to keep you small and afraid.
The truth is, we're all people—and we’ve all been in a new job before. So, the next time you find yourself clamming up with new colleagues because you think they’re better than you, just smile and remember that we’re all in the same boat.
5. Normalize New
Simply put, new is scary. That's just how it should be. If it wasn't scary, it would mean you've done it all before or are simply following to the letter what someone else has already carved out. And that doesn't sound like much fun at all, right?
Your brain lights up like a Christmas tree when you're in a new situation where the outcome is uncertain, so the fear you feel about starting a new job is just your brain doing what it's supposed to do. The real problem then is thinking that fear and anxiety is a problem. It isn't. It's perfectly normal.
When that part of you that's scared of the new starts to scream at you, give yourself room to pause. Reassure yourself that you’ve come this far, tell yourself that you're not going to die, and press on through that fear. I promise: With time, this too shall pass.