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Overwhelmed Your New Job

Overwhelmed at Your New Job: 5 Coping Tips for Success

Feelings of overwhelm happen when your stress level becomes more than you think you can handle. A new job can be a real reason to feel overwhelmed. You’re in unfamiliar territory. You’re learning your coworkers’ names, where the bathroom is, and how to use the copier. 

 I get it. I’ve been in your shoes. 

As a career coach, so many of my clients have told me how overwhelmed they are when starting a new job. Being overwhelmed at a new job is normal. Most times this stems from feelings of inadequacy or incompetence. But, hey, you’re not incompetent. You were chosen for this role. And considering most companies receive 250 applications for a single role – that’s a lot of competition. Your employer would not have selected you if they did not feel like you could do the job. 

So, take a deep breath. Follow these 5 tips to cope with overwhelm at your new job.  

  1. Everyone you work with was the “new guy”. You’re not alone. Everyone you work with was new once. Don’t be shy about asking for tips or help to get you through the transition period. Your coworkers are your best source – they’ve already been there, done that. 
  2. Play the worst-case-scenario game. I love this one. When I’m feeling particularly stressed about a situation, I imagine the worst-case scenario. In a new job, that might look like this: You fail to complete the project within the set deadline. The worst-case scenario, you miss a printing deadline, and the collateral is either late or you pay a fee for expedited service. This is undoubtedly embarrassing. But think about it – have you ever been to a conference and received the material later that day or even the next day. I can assure you that someone missed a deadline somewhere. 
  3. Flip negatives into positives. When you are overwhelmed in your new job, a lot of negativity can result. Find a way to turn it around. To begin with, say just one positive thing in your head or out loud about the situation. Here’s an example. You’re overwhelmed because the proprietary software program is complicated, and you can’t get past the first screen. At least you got the first screen! This isn’t a biggie, but it gives you a conversation starter to ask for the help you need: “Hey, I’m really good at getting to the first screen in this software program. It’s getting past that I need help with.” This will show your coworkers that you have a sense of humor, you want to learn, and you’re OK asking for the help you need. These are all really good things. 
  4. Find an ally. Research has shown time and again that having a friend at work improves productivity and increases longevity on the job. Find someone with a similar interest and ask them to coffee. You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend – just one person. If you’re an introvert, this will be challenging but you’ll be glad you made the effort. 
  5. Remember your last job? It got easier for you there. When none of these tips seem to lead to the success you’re looking for, take a walk down memory lane. You were new at your last job. You likely had these same feelings of incompetence and inadequacy. You overcame those feelings there, and you will here, too. 

Above all else, know that it will get easier. You will learn the systems used in your job. You’ll meet people. Your surroundings will become familiar. Prioritize your health and wellbeing during the transition. Exercise, eat well, and get plenty of sleep. Know that this, too, shall pass. 

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