Admit it. Your new job just isn’t living up to expectations. On paper, it should be everything you’d hope it would be – after all, you’re now in a more senior position, working on more exciting projects and even being better financially rewarded than you were in your previous role. Why, then, are you just not enjoying your new challenge?
Perhaps you’re even finding yourself questioning whether you made the right decision to change jobs in the first place? That’s understandable. But, whatever you do, and no matter how much you’re struggling, don’t resign on a whim – this is often a recipe for regret. Instead, I’d recommend that you take the following proactive steps:
- Be patient and kind to yourself: Change, let’s be honest, is rarely easy. Some of us take longer than others to become fully accustomed to certain big changes in our lives. Switching job is one of the most drastic and significant changes that one can make in life. So much of your life in your new role will feel different to how things were in your old job, that it’s no wonder you’re probably feeling overwhelmed right now. So, be kind to yourself, and don’t expect to adjust to everything overnight. Give yourself time to adjust to all of those unfamiliar people, tasks, schedules, procedures and technologies that the new job entails. Understand that the feelings you’re experiencing are normal – they are only temporary and will pass with time. After all, you’ve experienced change in your life many times before, and have successfully adapted to it. This is no different.
- Figure out what the root of the problem is: The first step to feeling better in your new role is to figure out what the root cause of your negative feelings is and take proactive steps to tackle it. Is it the case that you’re just feeling unsettled? Perhaps it’s the job itself that doesn’t feel right, or maybe you like the job, but hate your commute, or don’t get along with your new boss? Perhaps you feel like you aren’t picking things up as swiftly and easily as you should be, or are worried that you keep making mistakes? Maybe you’re feeling unclear as to what you should be doing, or concerned that you aren’t connecting with your new colleagues as well as you thought you would? Be proactive in fixing whatever the issue is and ask your new manager for support in doing this. Don’t be afraid to lean on your support network outside work, too, and to speak to your recruiter, who will be able to coach you through this difficult time.
- Focus on the positives: Write down everything you like about your new job. You will almost certainly be able to think of something, whether that be a stretching project you’ve been assigned to, or the level of autonomy you’re given, for instance. Seeking out your ‘silver linings’ will help you to focus your mind and reframe your negative thinking around your new job. Remember why you took the role in the first place – a new challenge, a new adventure – and re-jig your perspective, so that you feel genuinely excited once more about this major new chapter of your life and career. And even if changing your perspective doesn’t do much to make the job more exciting, recognising the good aspects of the role will help with your short-term happiness and improve your understanding of what you do and don’t want in any future jobs you go for.
- Be realistic: The fact of the matter is that no job is perfect, and there will inevitably be certain aspects of the role that you like more than others. There’s a good chance that with time, you will be able to gradually craft the role to focus on the things that you do like and are good at. By working closely with your new boss and colleagues, you may find that those aspects of the role you initially find yourself seriously fretting about, eventually dissolve into minor worries or cause yourself very little longer-term concern at all. But equally, it’s crucial not to be in denial if the aspects of the job that do worry you – such as a toxic company culture or demeaning boss – seem unlikely to improve over time.
- Adopt a mindset of growth: There are lots of new things that you will learn in your first few days, weeks and months in a new job. So, instead of being intimidated by this, or letting your self-doubt take over, try to see it as an exciting opportunity to expand your mind and build your skill set. Also, remember to update your CV and LinkedIn profile detailing all of the things you’ve learnt – this might come in handy if you do eventually decide that you need to find a new job. That means even if you aren’t ultimately happy in this job, it could prove an invaluable ‘stepping stone’ for you that enhances your marketability to other potential employers – so try to get as much out of it as possible.
- Make an effort to connect with your new colleagues: Studies show that maintaining strong relationships with our colleagues often translates into greater happiness, higher satisfaction, heightened engagement and increased productivity at work. Unless you’re literally sharing an office with some robots, the chances are that your new co-workers are friendlier and more approachable than you initially realise. So, don’t be afraid to pick their brains about any element of your new role that you might be struggling with, and perhaps ask one or more of them out to lunch. You might discover that those aspects of the job that intimidate you and that you’re embarrassed to ask about, are those that also most worried your new colleagues when they were in your position.
- Stop reminiscing about your old job: Try not to obsessively compare your old job to your new one, saying things to your colleagues like, “In my old place, we did it this way…” This will do nothing but put you in the wrong frame of mind, and possibly irritate your new colleagues. You need to give this new opportunity a fair chance, instead of letting your mind constantly reminisce about how much you miss the tight-knit team at your old company or wonder how the project you were leading is progressing. Instead, remember why you took this opportunity in the first place, and focus on the long-game – if nothing else, you are one step closer to achieving your career goal. If you hadn’t made the move, you’d still be standing in the same place, doing the same things day in, day out.
- Don’t wait forever: Don’t wait forever for things to get better – set a timeframe for making a ‘stay or go’ decision, and in the meantime, work hard to get to know your colleagues and contribute to the role. Consider getting a mentor, and meeting with your manager every week to discuss your progress so far. Only once your set timeframe passes, and if the situation feels no better and unlikely to improve, would I suggest that you consider making the decision to quit.
If, in a few months or a year from now, you’re still feeling the same, even after taking the above steps, it could be time to look for a new job. If that is the case, at least you’ll know in your own mind that you’ve got all you can out of the opportunity and have done everything in your power to salvage the situation.
However, before starting your job search, do take some time to reflect on what you’ve learnt, and try to understand what it is you’re looking for in your next opportunity. Remember, your career is a journey, you might not always get off at the right destination – and that’s ok. What matters is that you learn from each experience and move on to the next putting your best foot forward.