At the end of March, I started work as a part-time editor/writer for a local university, administrating the print and digital ad process. Hip, hip, hooray, right?
It’s been six years since I’ve been officially employed with an entity other than my freelance-writer self. Unless my kids count as employers. I still do their laundry when they come home from college.
I’m excited to be working again, in a very nice work environment. But I forgot about the anxiety one can experience when one starts a new job. Now that I’m one of those people, in a brand spanking new job, I must learn new procedures, remember names of co-workers, sort through G-mail when I’m used to Outlook, manage both digital and physical files, and commit to memory all other sorts of unfamiliar detail. It’s like walking into a grocery store, blindfolded, trying to find organic cauliflower. (I might want to work on that metaphor.)
I spent over 20 years in the corporate world, working in the IT industry. Much of my time was spent managing complex detail. Only I wasn’t always aware of how complex our processes were. I’d been immersed in them for so long they became second nature.
So now that I have a new job, with a new set of responsibilities, I’m getting tripped up by my ability to remember every single micro-step that’s required to do the job properly. The devil’s always in the details, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, details have always been a weakness for me, ironic given my corporate experience. But my employment in the IT industry made me appreciate them. Paying attention to details made a difference in how well the job got done. (At least I think it did.) Maybe it’s the difference between writing a blah story and one that’s filled with specifics, where you really get a sense of time, feeling and place.
To alleviate my anxiety – and not wallow in it, as seems to be my talent – I try to be solutions-focused. So what’s my solution? Furiously document every teeny-tiny step in the process.
Currently, I am in the ask-questions and make-mistakes mode…and I’ll feel better when I can rely on my very detailed notes to work more independently.
This certainly gives me renewed appreciation for what others go through when they are new to a job. It makes me wonder if this is one of the reasons we are so content to live within our comfort zones. As I probably did for those 20-plus years in the corporate world.
Learning something new really risks our sense of ourselves, how others view our competency. I can’t say I enjoy that part of the process because there is always the risk of failure, and who wants to fail, especially when a really nice opportunity like this comes along?
But it’s necessary to push through the anxiety that goes with learning something new. So forget about all those other fancy pants skills that are hard to acquire like, I don’t know, the ability to perform complex math calculations (unless math is your thing). Powering through the anxiety that is part and parcel of a new job is a skill worth cultivating.
Tell me about your new (or old!) job anxiety.