4 Lessons From 8 Weeks At My New Job

At the beginning of this year I decided I was done with my job and I was ready for my next career adventure. A few months later I found myself walking to my new office, almost pinching myself to make sure this was real life – I felt like I have entered a new reality. While sipping on my coffee that morning, I looked back at the 2 months at my new job. I was beyong grateful for where I was, but I also realised I had already learnt some lessons during my short time with the company. I want to share them with you and I hope that they will come to you at the right time, especially if you’re on your own new career adventure.

The power of decisions

I clearly remember when I decided. It was the first cold and gloomy Tuesday morning of the year. I opened my work laptop and a feeling of deep apathy washed over me. I did not want to open my emails. I did not want to deal with the projects I had. I felt like nothing could surprise me, like I didn’t really see a point in doing what I was doing. I was done.

The truth is I was done a few months earlier and I had already started looking for a new job. However, that Tuesday morning I felt a deep commitment to changing my job. Later that day I told my manager I am changing my job in the first quarter of the year. I was surprised, and so was he, at my determination… and at my completely random deadline. I had been on the lookout for a new opportunity for at least 3 months and there were no results. How would I make it work in the next 3 months? I had no idea. But I had decided.

My last day at my old job was the last day of the first quarter of the year.

The lesson: When you decide on something with all your heart, the invisible wheels of the Universe start moving in your favour. I was saying I wanted to change my job for a while, but I wasn’t fully committed until that morning. You might ask, “how do I know if I have really decided?”. Believe me, you know. There is a significant shift in your body and your mind. You become certain that what you decided will manifest, even if you don’t know how just yet. There is a quote from The Alchemist that that I like and which speaks to this very well:

β€œAnd, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 

Paulo Coehlo, “The Alchemist”

The love/stress relationship

I was hurrying up the main street of Vilnius old town hugging a paper bag full of crispy croissants. Red Hot Chilly Peppers was blasting in my earphones. My brain was running on a mix of nervousness, anxiety, anticipation and joy like I have not experienced in a while. In case you didn’t guess from this cocktail of emotions, I was on my way to the first day at the new job. Somewhere between the lyrics of “Can’t Stop”, the overly dramatic narrative my anxiety was trying to feed me and my inner voice reminding me to take deep breaths, my mind spent one second acknowledging that what was happening was a dream coming true.

And here is what was happening: two months before that day I received a LinkedIn message that changed the job hunt game for me. After many conversations and interviews, I signed a contract with a Lithuanian start-up. When I got the offer, I jumped, screamed and danced as if I had won the lottery. I was so happy. I got a challenging job, which is more aligned with my aspirations and strengths. I got more flexibility, better compensation, and what seemed (and later turned out to be) a great team and leaders I can learn from. I work at a start-up (which University Nicole really wanted to do), and I can freely choose between the comfort of my home office and the pretty, hip office in the city centre (just like I had imagined when I first moved to Vilnius). I got exactly what I wanted.

Two months later, people ask me how my job is going and I tell them that I love it but that it’s also stressful and hard. They ask why and when I tell them, I wonder if they think I am complaining. I am not. I am just telling the truth, which is:

The lesson: Sometimes you can get exactly what you want AND it can be hard. It can be stressful and it can make you doubt yourself and your choices. This is what happens when what you want is to learn and grow. I truly love the job, but it takes me for rides out of my comfort zone and beyond the boundaries of my knowledge every week (not to say daily). I really want you to know that you can love a job that is difficult, as long as it is difficult for the right reasons.

The good day/bad day rollercoaster

In the first month of work, I felt just about every emotion you can imagine – joy, fear, loneliness, love, pride, doubt, stress, confidence, the exact opposite of confidence, serendipity, anxiety, hunger – for knowledge and for food (yeah, not sure why but for a few weeks there I was SO hungry). Some days I felt like I was doing great. On other days I would close my laptop and wonder if I would make it past the probation period. Most of all though, I suffered a ghostly sense of imposter syndrome. I felt like the job was perfect for me, but I doubted whether I was good enough for the job. A friend told me, “you of all people should not feel this way knowing all the stuff about wellbeing”. I disagree. I am human and I am bound to experience every emotion there is. However, knowing how I feel, why I feel it and what I can do to help myself gave me the understanding and tools to go through it with more self-love and self-compassion.

The lesson: New and challenging situations can bring out doubts and fears that you haven’t experienced in a while or ever. That’s normal, Stepping out of your comfort zone is ultimately rewarding, but it requires you to stretch, to willingly be a newbie which can suck sometimes. Investing time in understanding how you feel and giving yourself what you need to feel better can help smooth those rollercoaster days. Soon enough, you will realise it was never a rollercoaster at all, it was just the bumpy road leading to the highway.

Growing feels difficult because it takes you to places you’ve never been before.

Unknown

The things that make the plane fly

When I was interviewing for the job, I was repeatedly told about the state of the processes and about what will be required to get the job done. I made mental notes and nodded with shining eyes. It sounded just like I imagined working in a start-up would be. Around the 4th or 5th time hearing the same concerns addressed, I started wondering if they were trying to talk me out of applying for the job. After around 5-6 weeks of actually working, I started realizing why I was so properly informed, I am almost tempted to say “warned”, about what I was getting myself into. It is a fast-paced environment even for my fast-paced nature. There is something I really enjoy about it, though; something that once I learn how to do will serve me very well in the future: I am learning how to build planes mid-flight.

Engineering something while in the air, metaphorically speaking, is quite a challenge – especially when you’re a newbie. So I had to find out, and quickly, not only how to structurally build things but also how to keep myself flying while at it. I had to lean on some of my core values. Being curious, willing to learn, and staying grateful and kind (to myself and to others) fueled my plane and got me through (emotional) turbulence more than once.

The lesson: I often say that spiritual wellbeing is one of the most important wellbeing areas. And it is also the most overlooked. However, when we get ourselves in situations which we can’t fully control, and which require us to show up for difficult tasks, having a clear purpose and personal values to lean on can be game-changing. Knowing why you are doing something (purpose) can help you move mountains, and knowing how you’d like to act while doing it (values) can help you move them faster. In other words, it’s not only important to build the plane – you also have to fuel it with the right stuff.

When I started this job I told myself I fully commit to two years of learning and getting outside of my comfort zone all in the name of growing. I couldn’t have imagined how quickly you can do that in a start-up. It has been short of 3 months and I look back in awe of what I’ve had the opportunity to experience. I also learned and discovered some things about myself, some of them good, some of them needing work. However, the most important thing for me is that no matter how the day before went, each morning I am enthusiastic about opening my laptop and getting to work. And I wish that to you, too.

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