‘New job overwhelm’ and how to get out of it

Something I see quite often with coaching clients is a sense of overwhelm when starting a new role. You know the feeling – the growing knot of tension in your stomach, anxiety levels rising, you can’t think straight. You were looking forward to the challenges of this new role; it’s a real step up, the promotion you have been longing for, but now you are feeling overwhelmed and wonder if you have it within you to make a go of it.

In the first few weeks of a new job, there is so much coming at you – new team, new manager, perhaps a new organisation to navigate, a different company culture, unfamiliar office politics… And it is precisely the time when you want to be at your best, making a good impression, being seen as strategic and adding value to the organisation.

Along with the sheer volume of new things can come a voice that whispers: ‘You didn’t handle that very well – are you sure you have what it takes for this?… I bet they are thinking badly of you because you didn’t speak up in that meeting… You are failing at this’.

The more you listen to it, the more your confidence ebbs away and you get into a downward spiral.

What can you do to get yourself out of overwhelm and onto the front foot again?

  1. Give yourself permission to feel the overwhelm

Acknowledge that this is a normal part of starting something new and only to be expected.  So often we can be very hard on ourselves and expect to be able to handle everything perfectly from the word go. When we are starting a new job, there are bound to be lots of things that challenge us – that’s OK! We are learning, and this is all part of the process.

Once you accept that feeling overwhelmed is normal for now, it takes some of the power out of it and you start to be able to think straight about what steps to take next.

  1. Carve out time regularly to reflect on your priorities

Putting time in the diary to step back from the whirlwind is often the hardest thing to do. There’s so much going on that time for yourself gets squeezed out very easily.

Making time to take stock of what’s going on and think through the key actions for the coming week/month really helps keep you grounded and on course. Your own inner wisdom will be your guide if you listen to it.

       3. Get support from others who can help you through this phase

Surround yourself with people who will help you be your best:

  • Identify a mentor who has been in your shoes and has the experience to help you navigate this time.
  • Work with a coach in the first few months on the things you are finding particularly challenging in the role, hone your vision for yourself and steer through the mindset issues that pop up as you go along.
  • Network with women in similar positions and surround yourself with people who have been there, done that and can offer support.
Coaching question: What would you say to a friend of yours who came to you feeling overwhelmed in their new job?





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