Being in a new job kinda sucks. Yes there is the hopeful feeling of opportunity, excitement of change and possible freedom from your old crappy job. BUT, the insecurity that comes with learning new tasks and roles can feel incredibly destabilizing. In my opinion, not enough people talk about how frustrating this can feel.
More often than not, we forget what it feels like to be new. We leave our previous job, where we felt fairly confident and competent, and we enter a space that feels like the first day of kindergarten. Often the mind starts to spin.
I don’t fit in here.
Shit--I don’t really know what I am doing.
The way they do things here is weird.
I’ll never learn all this.
Maybe I made a mistake in taking this new job.
My supervisor doesn’t like me.
My boss’ style of communication sucks.
This mental shit-storm feels awful. And worse yet, the energy it takes to learn new things, adjust to new expectations, and settle into a new work culture is enough anxiety without a heaping dose of self-doubt.
So how do you channel your confidence so you can calmly settle into this new job or role?
1. DON’T TRUST THE DOUBT…YET.
Imagine I said to you that everyday, at work, for the next 3 months, a kid is gonna jump out from around the corner with a sheet over his head and yell boo. You can 100% expect that he will show up EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. He is NOT a real ghost. You are not in real danger. And you don’t need to indulge in any chit -chat with said ghost.
Assuming your nervous system is working fairly well, my warning about this ghost will likely allow a minimal reaction when you turn the corner and the ghost yells boo. Yes it’s annoying that he keeps jumping out. But by the 3rd or 4th time, you will likely see him coming and move about your business. Why? Because you EXPECT him to show up.
Now I want you to imagine that the doubt you feel in your new job is that same kid dressed up like a ghost. I call him the self-doubt ghost. He’ll show up DAILY. He’ll jump out and yell at you. Only your ghost is going to yell this: “This new job sucks. I don’t know what I’m doing. My boss thinks I’m performing poorly. I should have never left my old job. What if people figure out I’m a big fraud. I’m not competent enough for this work….“
Here’s what you need to know:
The self-doubt ghost is going to be around the corner for 6-12 months.
You are in no real danger.
You don’t need to engage in ANY chit-chat with this ghost.
And you should assume that this ghost is TERRIBLE at telling you anything accurate about your new job.
The brain craves the familiar. It wants you to make decisions that have predictable outcomes with little to no uncertainty. This desire for predictability and familiarity often works in opposition to our desire for excitement, change, and growth.
The doubt you are feeling is normal. It’s your brain assessing the perceived danger of the unknown. It wants to force you back into something that is more familiar. The key is knowing that YOU CAN’T TRUST THE BRAIN WHEN IT’S IN THIS FEAR. It will tell you all kinds of things with a sense of exaggeration and urgency.
So the first step to increasing your confidence is to STOP trusting the self-doubt ghost. STOP indulging it. Just simply EXPECT it to show up. ANTICIPATE what it will say. Then MOVE AROUND it and back to work.
Indulging with the doubt just piles on your insecurity and erodes your confidence. When you know that your brain is gonna yell boo you can stop listening to it as if it’s here to help you succeed at work. It’s not. It’s trying to get you to go back to the familiar. You have to remind yourself that you are here for growth and change and allow your brain to question you. Trust me-- the fearful part of your brain will quiet down once you adjust to this new job.
Side note: In case your brain is yelling at me “But what if this job isn’t right for me! What if my brain is accurately assessing this new job?“ First of all, I can tell you from coaching many people in new jobs that it’s likely NOT accurately assessing anything. This job may not be a fit for you. BUT the clarity around this will feel much better if you allow yourself time to get confident in your job and assess it from a space of calm confidence. Assessment from a space of self-doubt and fear is like deciding if you like riding a bike before you have learned to ride without falling down every 30 seconds.
2. SHIFT YOUR FOCUS TO CONFIDENCE IN YOUR GROWTH
It feels amazing to have confidence. It’s the focus of the work I do. I know that when I help people tap into their real confidence they raise to their potential at warp speed.
However, confidence can be tricky because we feel MOST confident when we feel capable. So how do you tap into that confidence when you are doing something new? Something you haven’t refined your capability in?
You shift your focus onto your CAPABILITY AT BECOMING CONFIDENT. I know it sounds a bit like a mind game but it’s not.
A growth mindset-- the belief that your talents aren’t fixed but evolve and improve based on what we learn and practice-- is a key component to building a successful career. Success is not contingent on just being naturally talented enough in an area. Success is correlated with learning, practicing and eventually mastering.
In other words, when you believe that it’s okay to not know, but tap into your confidence at learning and improving, you increase your overall career success.
Embracing this growth mindset not only improves success, it allows you to feel better at being new. If you KNOW you are absolutely capable of improving, learning and mastering new things, you can focus on your confidence in your capabilities to learn and stop focusing on your lack of mastery of the thing you are still learning.
It’s plausible to assume you are going to stumble around with some of your new responsibilities. Even if you’re shifting jobs in the same industry with a similar job title, the nature of working in a different place with different procedures, different co-workers, and different expectations means shit is different!
This isn’t a sign that you made a colossal mistake in taking this on. It’s just the nature of change and growth. It feels destabilizing. It pokes at our insecurities and it can send us into a panic. But confidence is still available to you. Shift your focus away from the belief that you need to know what you are doing RIGHT NOW. And instead, focus on your ability to learn this, improve with practice, and master it.
Being new definitely requires more energy than showing up to something we can breeze through. BUT humans actually gain deep satisfaction from taking on new challenges and mastering them. Building what you want for your career will likely require that you step into spaces that stretch you. The key is knowing YOU CAN HANDLE IT. Anticipate the self-doubt ghost and focus on your ability to become masterful with practice.