Work + Growth

I Just Started A New Job, Did I Make a Big Mistake?

  • Focus on what attracted you to the new role and use that to energize you in the near-term
  • Resist the urge to second-guess yourself by looking at a rosier version of your old job
  • Give yourself the chance to grow into your new position by focusing on what you need to do in the present

Great new roles often start out a bit bumpy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not right where you should be.

You’ve started a new job and the first few days of getting oriented were exciting and filled with promise. But now that the initial energy has retreated a bit and you’re getting down to work and navigating an entirely new work environment and workload, you may be having some difficult days and some doubt may be creeping in about your decision. You may have even begun to reminisce about your old employer, forgetting all the solid reasons for why you wanted to get out of there! It’s a funny feeling, homesickness for a place you were excited to leave. And you may be undervaluing all the great, positive things that drew you to this new role and organization.

Your move might feel like a huge mistake because things you took for granted at your old employer are done differently at your new one, and that’s a change, which means you’re having to adjust to it. Starting a new job can be confusing and challenging at times, but that doesn’t mean you made a mistake. Frankly, you probably made a good decision, but it’s just too early to tell. For now, take a deep breath, relax and focus on what’s right in front of you.

Some perspective always helps. Anxiety about new experiences is normal, so don’t get drawn toward a world of doubt that would have you pulling up stakes before you really have time to adjust to your new environment. Tap into what was motivating you to not only leave that old job, but what was drawing you to, and getting you excited about, this new one.

Most of all, give the new job time. This takes some patience but will allow you to be productive in your new role and ultimately be able to evaluate your new job in a more clear-headed way. In the meantime, here are a few tips on where to focus your energies as you adjust to your new job.

They hired you for a reason

Jobs in the legal field are highly competitive and often involve an arduous interviewing process. You are the one that came out on top.

Remember, you were hired because your skills, your experience, your strengths, your character, your talents, and your ability to socialize with the rest of the team stood out from the rest. After a painstaking search, they determined that you are not only the most qualified, but also the person they felt they could get along with on a daily basis.

This is important. Trust the process and that the early apprehensions and hiccups will give way to positive results from a match of your talents with the right organization and its people.

Admit when you need help

As much as you might be the perfect fit, you also don’t know everything about your new employer’s processes, office culture, and all the rules, written and unwritten. Early on is the best time to engage with your new coworkers and ask questions so you can fully integrate yourself your new environment. Showing a desire to learn from others now will be its own reward down the line as your coworkers will see you as a trusted teammate who’s always looking to learn and find better ways of doing things.

It’s a process, so accept the learning curve

Settling into a new job generally takes months. Try to remember your last job and what your onboarding experience there looked like. You didn’t just show up there and seamlessly handle every new thing thrown at you, but ultimately you did. That job got easier as you went along and so will this one. The most important thing is to give yourself time to grow and adjust.

Don’t isolate yourself

It’s important to be your authentic self from the start, but try to push your comfort zone toward your more social edge. Rather than keep to yourself as you try to tackle your new workload, be sure to reach out to your coworkers and arrange for quick coffee breaks or lunches with your new team members. They’ll appreciate the new energy you’re bringing to the table and forging an early connection will help them become invested in your success and share with you helpful tidbits that will make your adjustment that much easier. Also, be aware that some coworkers may be wary of the new kid on the block so taking the initiative to be friendly and helpful will get them to relax a bit and set you on the best path to for a productive professional relationship.

Be patient with your job, and yourself

Above all, keep in mind in the early days that a new job and new coworkers provide a chance for you to grow, develop new habits, learn new things and become a better version of yourself. It’s a great opportunity and that’s why you took it. Acknowledge that early on there will be challenges as you adjust to a new environment, new colleagues and a new workload. If you keep looking forward and focus your energy on doing what you need to do to be successful in your new role rather than looking backward, you’ll soon find that you’ve grown into the role and won’t quite believe that you once doubted your choice.

What's Next

Identify two discrete, task-based actions you’ll take in your new role in the next week, whether asking a colleague out to lunch or organizing your office, to take some control over your situation.