In the past four months in my new job, I often feel like I’m a fish swimming upstream in a rushing river, eddying and swirling. Navigating new territory–new responsibilities, new corporate environment, new names and faces, new processes and procedures, new challenges–is exhilarating and exhausting. My eyes are always focused on a distant point upstream, where I can finally tread water, because I will have mastered the skills and knowledge needed to do the job well. Only then will I relax, feeling confident and satisfied that I have met these challenges and have had a positive impact. It will happen, I remind myself. Some day.
Then, one morning this week, I spoke with a friend from grad school who took a job similar to mine in Massachusetts. She called to ask my advice on how to handle a new management training project . “I don’t know how to even begin. It’s overwhelming,” she admitted. And so, I told her how I was handling a similar training project, which required collaboration with in-house experts to create learning modules on various topics, which would be deployed in the company’s learning management system. As we talked, I drew on my “vast” experience–which amounted to 2 months more than hers. But, to my surprise and delight, I had learned enough to give her constructive advice, which she said eased her fears and gave her concrete steps that she can follow to tackle this project.
As you can imagine, I felt happy to help my friend, but I was also grateful to her because she made me stop and take stock of what I had already learned. In my rush to get to that distant point upstream, I had never paused and looked back at how far I had traveled in the past few months. It was a valuable lesson for those of us in new jobs to give ourselves permission to say, “I’m new on this job and need time to learn,” and “I’m overwhelmed and need to ask someone for advice.” Equally important, we should stop every once in a while to take stock of the little lessons learned every day and every week, which accumulate over time into a body of knowledge and expertise.
Categories: Personal Change