So you finally landed a new job. You made it through the interview process and they liked you. But now your first day on the job is coming soon and you are freaking out. Maybe you have already started your new job and you find that you are a nervous wreck. You want to keep this job but you fear your anxiety is going to jeopardize your ability to perform. Believe me I have been there. Getting a new job ranks up there as one of the more anxiety producing events in one’s life. And nowadays we may be faced with the probability that we will have multiple new jobs in our future due to a weak economy.
So how do we cope with new job anxiety?
Know that you are not alone.
It may seem like you are the only one who is suffering from anxiety over your new job. But you are not the only one. Many of our members here have asked questions about how to cope with their job anxiety. Maybe some of the answers given can help you.
Remember your strengths.
If you got this far in the hiring process then there is a reason. Your employer must see something of great value in your resume and in how you presented yourself during your interview. Read over your resume and take pride in your accomplishments. Nobody can take those successes away from you. On your new job you can build upon those strengths and capabilities.
Don’t place pressure on yourself to be perfect on day one.
One of the fears I had when starting a new job is that I had to know everything in one day. Most employers are not going to expect perfection as you learn your job. It will take time. Observe and ask questions if you are unsure. Don’t be so afraid of making a mistake that you don’t initiate performing some duties on your own. Everyone starts off as a newbie. Even people who have been at their job for years and years have to learn new skills to keep up. It is all a process. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know everything on the first day or even the first weeks.
Take your time to assess the social climate of your work place.
You are entering an already established social group. You want to gently enter the group by observing and asking questions. Try not to do all the talking but ask others about themselves. People generally like to talk about themselves. Showing an interest in your co-workers goes over much better than either being too quiet or forcing yourself into the group. Try to observe the different personalities to see where you might fit in the best.
Find a mentor.
There will likely be someone in your work group who will be able to show you around and teach you how to perform your duties. You may need to write down your questions if that helps you to remember everything. You may want to ask questions about anything which has the potential to cause you anxiety. You may want to ask things like, "Who do I report to if I need help?"or "What is the protocol for correcting mistakes?"
Write down your fears.
Sometimes it helps to write down your anxieties. What are your top five worries about your new job? Then rate the level of your anxiety related to that fear on a scale of one to ten. What is your most anxiety provoking fear? Is it realistic? Can you brainstorm about solutions to prevent the worst case scenario from happening? For example, if your worst fear is that you will fail in some way, are there ways to keep your job intact? Explore the what-ifs. If you make a mistake or fail at a task at your new job would it really be the end of the world? Trust yourself that you could recover no matter what happens.
Know that you are in control.
One of our members who wrote about feeling great anxiety over starting her new job said it helped to carry her car keys in her pocket. That way she felt that if she really needed to she could leave at any minute. If this new job is not right for you, you always have the choice to change your mind. Some people find security in asking their previous employer if it is an option for them to come back. Feeling trapped can lead to feeling depressed and anxious. There will always be other jobs. You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to but it would be good to give this new job a chance.
This too shall pass.
The newness phase will wear off. In just a couple of weeks you will know a lot about how to perform your job duties. Most people’s anxiety over starting a new job has to do with the fear of the unknown. You will reach a comfort level as you practice your skills each day. You will get to know people and will feel more at ease. Give it some time. Take it day by day hour by hour if you have to. Tell yourself, "I can stand one more hour" and then build upon that until you make it through an entire day. It is going to get better.
It is just a job.
Some people put so much pressure on their job to fulfill all their expectations as though the job is supposed to be Prince Charming. Sometimes a job is simply a place to earn money so you can pay your bills. Take the pressure off by realizing that your job is not your entire life. You have other elements in your life which may be far more important than your job such as your family and friends.
This job is an opportunity.
Instead of looking at your new job as way you could possibly fail, look at it as an opportunity to grow and to learn. The skills you learn at this job could qualify you for something else you like better in the future. One of my husband’s first jobs was at an ad agency. He hated it. He was actually demoted from being a supervisor to working with the tech people. But this demotion was the best thing to have ever happened because he learned valuable computer skills which got him a far better job in the future. Even if you "fail" you may discover other opportunities to learn new skills and to figure out which job tasks you most enjoy.
Seek out professional counseling.
If your anxiety seems overwhelming and is adversely affecting your health, your job, and your relationships, it may be time to seek some professional help. You don’t need to suffer alone. There are therapists who can help with this. Cognitive behavioral therapy may be an option. You can find a cognitive behavioral therapist through the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
We would love to hear from our members. Have you ever suffered from new job anxiety? How did you cope with it? Did it get better over time? Let us know about your experience. You just may help someone else in the process.
For more information about job related anxiety please read the following articles:
I am a mother, a writer, and now an MS patient