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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Changing Jobs

Simple Ways to Fight the New Job Jitters

Starting a new job is incredibly exciting (translation: incredibly nerve-wracking). Figuring out the ins and outs of your job description is only the tip of the iceberg—organizational culture, new personalities, and an unfamiliar office mean you're constantly learning new things. And while the adjustment period feels new and different for everyone, some of us struggle with feeling downright overwhelmed.

If this sounds like you (and you have the bitten fingernails to prove it), we've gathered four ways to conquer your nerves and take these new experiences in stride.

Wake Up Earlier

Ever notice how your hands clench the steering wheel when you have five minutes left for the last 15 of your commute? Know that sinking feeling when you miss your train and have to wait for the next one all too well?

When you cut your commute too close and are rushing, you begin your day flustered and worried. But you can make all (OK, most) of that angst disappear—all you need to do is leave earlier. Set your alarm 30 minutes early (in case you need to hit snooze once or twice) and aim to get to work at least 10 minutes early every day. Make it your goal to have your coat hung up and coffee in hand pre-9 AM. You’ll eliminate all of those useless jitters, and start your day with a positive baseline. (Bonus: supervisors always like the early birds.)

Set Up Your Workspace

When you move into a new apartment, it doesn’t feel like your own until your boxes are unpacked and it feels “like home.” While you can’t (and, frankly, shouldn’t) personalize your office to the same degree, you should apply the same principle: You’ll feel more settled once everything is geared up.

So set up your email signature and record your outgoing voicemail message on your first day. It will feel good to see your name next to your new title every time you click “Compose,” it’ll have you prepared to communicate with the outside world, and it’ll get you familiar with any new technology.

And, don’t forget about your desk. While you may want to take time to observe how personalized your colleague’s desks are (are family photos omnipresent or nowhere to be seen?), bring in a few office supplies that make you feel good, like the Paris notepad your BFF gave you or a pen with your alma mater’s name.

Schedule a Lunch

If it’s fitting in with a new group that’s the root of your jitters, remember that everyone has to eat, and ask your colleagues to grab lunch. You'll feel much more comfortable when you get to know a few people a bit better. A simple, “Hey, have any favorite lunch places around here? Want to join me to grab a bite?” works perfectly.

Ask them questions about their job, but also feel free to use this time to talk about things that aren’t work-related—are they sports fanatics? Are they originally from this area? You’ll bond over lunch and have a conversation starter next time you’re all in the break room or want to ask someone how staff meetings usually go.

Work On Your Self-Talk

Quick quiz: If the new database or client tracking system doesn't come naturally to you, do you think: a) “This is impossible,” b) “I stink at this,” or c) “This a great opportunity for me to practice on this piece of technology, because, hey, that's what the first week is for?”

It seems obvious—but too many of us talk down to ourselves, which in turn makes us feel bad and ramps up our nerves. If you find yourself getting frustrated, remember that you’re bound to face some roadblocks during this time, and give yourself a little pep talk (just, well, not out loud). You’ll feel better and your new colleagues will see you as someone who is calm under pressure.

Finally, remember that you’re going to do a great job—that’s why they hired you! Getting over your nerves is a skill that takes practice, but staying calm and positive will make you feel better about your new job and help you in the future as well. Like when you’re adjusting to a new promotion!

Photo of woman going to work courtesy of Shutterstock.