You’ve finally done it — you’ve completed the endless job applications, sat through round after round of interviews and now you’re gearing up for your first day on a new job. Maybe it starts tomorrow, maybe it starts in a month, but all you can think about is how nervous you are.
The hard part is over, shouldn’t this be easier?
Everyone gets a little excited and anxious about starting a new job. After all, your job contributes a lot to your quality of life, with factors like having good coworkers, a great location, hours that work for you or even just minimal stress.
The excitement can leave your brain in overdrive, giving you major jitters for your first day. To make sure you can deal with your first-day on-the-job nerves, try out some of these tips and see what works for you.
And always remember, you got hired for a good reason! You will rock your new job — you just need to take a second to breathe.
1. Plan ahead. Most of the time, the unknown is a major source of our anxiety about a situation. The job interview process probably didn’t give you a true idea of your workload, the amount of stress you’ll be under or how well you’ll get along with your coworkers. To try and fill in as much of the unknown as you can, plan ahead for what you know you can count on.
You know you’ll want to look professional, so lay out what you’ll wear for your first day. Maybe even plan your outfits for the first week. Do the same for any snacks you might want to bring to the office.
Stressed about your hours? Make some delicious pre-prepared meals and stick them in the freezer, so if you find yourself working later than you’d like, you can just pop them in the oven when you get home.
Worried about the commute? Try driving the route ahead of time and even checking out parking if the office doesn’t have a huge lot.
Identify your concerns and try to plan ahead when possible to ease them.
2. Give yourself extra time. Let’s say you take an hour to get ready for work on a typical day. If you give yourself this same amount of time to get ready on the first day of your new job, you might find yourself struggling to get everything done as quickly as you normally would. The nerves will set in, and you’ll feel overwhelmed.
Instead, try setting your alarm at least 15 to 30 minutes earlier. This will give you some time to double-check that you packed your lunch or applied deodorant.
When you get in the car, you won’t feel the panicked need to remember if you turned that light off or brought along your snack. You’ll already know you did, because you had that extra few minutes.
3. Come prepared. You might not feel the nerves go away until your new job begins to feel familiar, but that can take a while. To help yourself on your first day, bring some desk decorations that’ll make your space feel personalized.
Maybe bring some flowers, a lamp or a picture of your pet. Not only will you feel more comfortable around your favorite things, but your coworkers will also get to know you through the way you decorate.
4. Schedule a lunch date. Often, the hardest part of a new job is getting to know your coworkers and bond with them. On your first day, join people who are eating lunch in the break room, or let a few people you’ve talked to know you’re planning to eat at a nearby restaurant and you’d love if they joined you.
Sharing a meal is a natural bonding experience, because good food will relax everyone and get them out of the workplace mindset. Plus, you’ll all leave with newly formed memories, and if you ever have trouble starting a conversation in the future, you can bring up something you talked about at your first lunch together.
5. Make a list. It’s totally normal to have some self-doubt when starting a job. When you have a moment alone, either before you start your job or during your most anxious moment of that first day, make a list.
Write down what qualities you have that make you a great person for your current position, or what about your personality would have made your new boss choose you for your role. You’re guaranteed to find a few great reasons, so take pride in them! You wouldn’t have been hired if the supervisor thought you couldn’t do the job, but seeing your capabilities on a list will help you find a visual reason to stay calm and confident.
6. Remember: Nothing is forever! Your new job may be important and vital to whatever stage of life you’re currently in, but it doesn’t have to last forever. Plenty of people change the careers they started off in, some changing roles multiple times. On average, Americans change jobs 10 to 15 times throughout their lifetime. Often, a career shift is necessary to progress and help you reach your goals.
Think of it like this: Brad Pitt didn’t stay a limo driver his whole life. He ended up switching to what he was passionate about, and found great success. There’s no reason things can’t be the same for you!
Work the job you have now, and always do the best you can in it. It doesn’t have to be the one job you keep for your entire life, and chances are good that it won’t be.
Always keep your options open when it comes to jobs you’d like. Maybe you’ll fall in love with what you do in your new position as soon as you start — but maybe you won’t. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. Remember, you’re in charge of your decisions, and you can do whatever you put your mind to, especially if you’re determined to keep calm during the first day of your new job.