How to quieten new-job nerves

One of the issues that comes up the most for the women I coach who are moving into a new role is managing their nerves.

That voice in your head that says:

“Who are you to be doing this job? …

You are going to make a mess of it…

What if you are found out and can’t really do it?”

And it gets loudest just as you are about to do something new and exciting.

One of the ways we talk about managing this is to positively welcome the feelings, and not try to push them away, or think that you shouldn’t be feeling like this.

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Something I found hugely helpful is a passage from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, where she talks about how she feels as she embarks on a new creative writing project. She has a welcome speech, which she gives to Fear. Here is what she says:

‘”Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting – and, may I say, you are superb at your job.So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring.

There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way.  I recognise and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed.

You are allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You are not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”

Then we head off together – me and creativity and fear – side by side by side forever, advancing once more into the terrifying but marvellous terrain of unknown outcome.’

I love this approach. It’s so important to recognise at the beginning of a new job that fear is going to be part of the package. If you were not feeling some nerves, there would be something wrong. By talking directly to them, you take away some of their power and are able to move forward without being paralysed.

So if you are about to begin a new role, here’s a simple exercise: write a welcome speech to your own fears. Let them know that you are aware they are coming with you. What do you say?

And how do you feel once you’ve done it?

Let me know how you get on.

Get my free guide to starting a new job well here.

If you’d like more help with starting your new role,  email me at: to set up an informal chat.

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