Do you remember that fear? 😱
The butterflies as you walk to the door (or turn on the laptop); the pressure to perform...
Starting a new job can be very scary.
(In fact, I've already written a blog with 9 Ways to Survive That Scary First Week in a New Job.)
But when you have Imposter Syndrome, it is even scarier.
And starting a new job is actually a common trigger for developing Imposter Syndrome...
Which means it's all the more important to know what you can do to help yourself!
You don't want to layer an undermining inner critic onto the understandable nerves.
So this week's blog post has 6 tips to help you when you're starting a new job suffering with Imposter Syndrome.
And each one has its own mantra, or saying, for you to use to help you build you own inner cheerleader instead.
Read on to find out more! 😁
✴️ 1. Take the pressure off
One of the most common problems for people with Imposter Syndrome (and one I definitely suffered from) was feeling that they need to be an Expert, instantly, on Day One.
This is simply not true!
No-one is an expert on their first day.
Employers don't appoint people who can do the job expertly straight away, they employ someone they believe can BECOME an expert.
Honestly, if you are expert on day one, you're overqualified and in the wrong job.
So take the pressure off yourself!
Remind yourself that it's a good thing to have scope to learn; and that enthusiasm and commitment are what your bosses are currently looking for - not instant expertise.
"I enjoy learning and growing into my new role."
✴️ 2. Remember your skills and experience
You may be new to this job, but you are arriving with useful skills and knowledge. Even if this is your first job, you are arriving with something to offer.
It can be easy to forget this when most of what you are experiencing is brand new - and it can sometimes be hard to see how to apply what you already know in the new context.
But this is a matter of confidence.
If you allow yourself to feel overawed and ignorant, it's not going to help you perform well (or feel good about yourself).
So keep remembering your achievements.
If you haven't done one yet, create an "I'm proud of myself" file where you record things you've achieved - however small, and read it regularly.
Remind yourself of all the amazing examples you gave during your interview - those are all things you actually did.
In my brain-retraining that cured my chronic fatigue, we learned a particularly powerful phrase: "if I can do THAT, I can do anything".
You fill in the "that" in your own head - your own personal greatest achievement. For me at the time, it was giving up smoking (which was the hardest thing I'd done up to that point). Now when I think of that phrase, it's overcoming chronic fatigue. If I can do that, I truly can do anything...
So give it time, and patience, and you will be able to do even more amazing things in your new job.
Have faith, remember what you've achieved, and trust that.
"If I can do THAT, I can do anything."
✴️ 3. Re-frame "impossible challenges" as "learning opportunities"
This is an important shift.
There is a significant physiological difference in the way the body responds to something that it perceives as an impossible challenge that it cannot cope with, to something that is a challenge that it CAN cope with.
The former provokes the stress, "fight-or-flight" response, and the latter doesn't - which means that you are much more able to manage the situation well.
So it's really helpful to tell your brain that that situation you're about to go into is something you're entirely capable of managing.
And you do this by re-framing it from a test of your abilities (or worse, worth), to a learning opportunity.
🌟 "What a great opportunity this is for me to learn more about this aspect of the organisation".
🌟 "What a great opportunity this is for me to learn from my bosses/ colleagues."
🌟 "What a great opportunity this is for me to learn more about how much I know or don't know, so that I can fill in the gaps most efficiently."
It instantly takes the threat out of the situation - which means (emotionally, intellectually and physiologically), you are better able to respond.
Do that re-frame as often as you can, it will really help.
"What a great opportunity this is to..."
✴️ 4. Set yourself realistic, prioritised goals
You can't do it all.
And that is particularly true in a new job: there are so many areas of learning far beyond the expertise of your actual role: the people, the culture, the logistics...
(Or as I usually put it, "ruthlessly prioritise".)
Think to yourself at the start of each day, what is the ONE THING that is going to make the biggest difference for me to learn/ do/ focus on today. And make sure you do it.
It might be something different each day, so you build up some basic knowledge in a range of areas.
But keep focussing on doing one thing at a time - don't try to do it all at once, because you'll just make your head explode.
Combined with this, set yourself REALISTIC goals.
You aren't going to be able to master a new technology in half an hour, so don't aim to.
Give yourself time and space to learn new things.
I always think of a new job with some particular milestones to reach:
💪 first day (it's all a blur, just get through the day)
💪 first week (you've survived your first full week!)
💪 first three weeks (you're beginning to get a feel for things)
💪 first three months (you've started feeling competent in some areas).
And from there on in, the sky's your limit.
So keep your goals that you want to reach for these milestones realistic, and kind.
No-one is going to sack you for not performing in your first week - it's a marathon, not a sprint.
And you will best be able to keep going so that you can eventually perform brilliantly if you prioritise, and set yourself realistic goals.
(Rather than pressurising yourself to do ALL THE THINGS BRILLIANTLY from Day One).
"I focus on one thing at a time as I progress to my milestones"
✴️ 5. Set boundaries
I mention the importance of factoring in thinking time from the start in my other blog, looking at practical tips for surviving your first week.
But this is so crucial for your mindset as well.
If you don't give yourself thinking time, you won't be able take a breath, get yourself out of the trenches, and review your progress - so important for self-motivation as well as performance.
This is about setting boundaries from the start: don't make yourself available for meeting after meeting, all day long. Make it clear that you want some thinking/ reading time each day, and be consistent about sticking to it - and your colleagues and bosses will just accept that that's the way you work. You'll be saving yourself lots of stresses later when you try to introduce this.
Plus, the other most important boundary to be setting: taking breaks!
Sometimes we feel like we have to be working all the time or we're not dedicated enough (especially at the start when we're trying to make a good impression).
This is rubbish, and so damaging.
So start as you mean to go on! Take at least 30 minutes for lunch every day, away from your desk, ideally having a walk outside.
Finish all meeting that you control 5 minutes early, so you (and all other attendees) can have a 5 minute break.
Make sure you stop for at least 5 minutes every morning and afternoon.
This really matters, and it makes a powerful difference!
I had a client who, when she started working with me, said that every day was a race between which would run out first: her energy or her "to do" list.
We introduced just two 5 minute breaks, and it revolutionised her day. She is now calmer, more energised, and more productive.
So even though it might seem tiny - and even though it might seem impossible - make sure you have these breaks from the beginning. Once you set the expectation for yourself (and others), and consistently keep reinforcing it, it will become an accepted habit.
"I set healthy boundaries to support my performance and mindset"
✴️ 6. Look after yourself! 💖
Last but very much not least.
It's hard work starting a new job: it is both intellectually and emotionally tiring, learning new things, meeting new people, all the NEW.
So really focus on Filling Your Tank, especially during those first three weeks.
Get to bed early; eat well; get lots of support from those around you.
Ideally don't add to the pressure by eg trying to move house at the same time...
Really give yourself permission to nurture yourself through this transitional time.
And that combines with a final aspect of looking after yourself: keep recognising and celebrating your successes!
Every time you reach one of those milestones, recognise it and give yourself a pat on the back.
When you are in a meeting and find yourself understanding what people are talking about, note it and give yourself a private hooray.
When you know your way around the building, recognise it.
And when you first deliver something or contribute in a meeting and get some positive feedback - put it in your "I'm proud of myself..." file.
You WILL be making progress every day, but when it feels like you've got a mountain to climb, you might not notice it.
But choose to do that! The brain is motivated by perceived progress more than anything else, so make sure all your progress IS perceived - it will really help.
"I am kind to myself" 😊
And that's it!
I hope you find these tips helpful.
Remember, starting a new job is always scary, for everyone.
Don't allow your Imposter and inner critic to compound that by adding extra layers of pressure and stress.
Having a supportive inner cheerleader instead will make that transition period so much easier 💖
So be very deliberate about choosing to boost your inner cheerleader. Use those sayings, they will help! 🌟
And if you think back to those first day butterflies, I read a wonderful bit of advice:
it's not about getting rid of them (nerves are natural);
instead, make those internal butterflies fly in formation... 💪
You get to choose! 😁
If you're starting a new job and you already know you have Imposter Syndrome, or if starting that new job has triggered it, I can help.
My signature coaching programme, "Banish Your Imposter and Discover Your Naked Confidence" is ideal for supporting you through this transition so you can learn how to fulfil your potential and thrive.
And it's also very common for my clients to be supported by their organisation with the costs of this coaching - they want you to succeed too!
(I can help by working with you to develop a business case for your internal discussions.)
So if this sounds like something you're interested in, get in touch!
You can book a free intro call to find out more about the Programme and my coaching style, and for us to see that we "fit".