Starting a new job is never easy, so just jump in!

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Tomorrow’s the beginning of a new chapter for me – I’m leaving Gist and joining Assistly. It’s been a great run and I am looking forward to staying in touch with my good friends and Gist and to gaining new friendships at Assistly (Seattle peeps – I’m not moving, and San Francisco peeps – I’m going to see you a lot more often ;).

There are a few key things I’ve noticed in this transition about starting a new job which could also apply nicely to most new things that you want to try, so here they are:

Act Like You’re Already Doing It.

Some might call this “fake it until you make it,” but I think the single most important thing you can do when you are starting a new opportunity is to act like you’re already doing it. For some jobs (like astronaut) this might be slightly impractical but for most folks there is ample opportunity to demonstrate both to yourself and to your new employer and co-workers that you are capable, willing, and eager to do the new job. (Who knows, you might learn some valuable skills as you’re doing it.)

Be Willing to Make Different Mistakes at Your New Job

If you’ve been in your current role for more than a year or two, you’ve probably made your fair share of mistakes (good! Hopefully you learned from them and they were the kind of mistakes that weren’t un-fixable.) So, when you move to your new role, if you’re willing to open yourself to the possibility that you will make new and different mistakes (probably also hoping to make fixable ones ;), you’ll probably learn more about your abilities and the new job while you’re at it.

Just Do It.

There’s no substitute for jumping in and doing the work. You can think about it all you want, but like the classic The Mythical Man-Month, throwing more preparation at your new job doesn’t guarantee success (if you’re an astronaut or if you work in an ISO9000 industry, it probably helps, but that’s a relatively small percentage of the working population.) Even if you have specialized skills that took you years to learn and perfect, using those skills in a new environment, with new co-workers and new customers is going to teach you some new things.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Pretty soon this will seem like “your job” again, so acknowledge that you are going through a special time where you have the opportunity to learn a lot and expand your brain (and don’t forget to have fun, too.) Victor Turner writes about the quality of being “liminal” and being not in one place or the other – this is the essence of the beginning of a new experience. So embrace it. I’m trying to do so this week, and in the coming months ahead.


9 thoughts on “Starting a new job is never easy, so just jump in!

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  1. Hi Greg,

    All the best at Assistly!

    One more The first 90 days, by Michael Watkins is worth a read.
    It captures some of your thoughts above, and granted, it’s aimed at larger corporate transitions, but there’s still some nuggets worth learning.

  2. Been fortunate to become your friend, co-worker and just be in your circle for the past 2 years… Sad to see everyone leave Gist because it was an awesome team there but times change and people move on…

    Good luck man and you know where to find me 🙂

  3. Hey Greg,

    I was re-running the Technorati articles on my own blog last week and the first part of this week, so I thought “great timing.” But actually, this post goes great with the other theme I am writing about…transitioning into a new job. It’s August, and so in higher ed, that means staff trainings and meetings up the wazoo to plan for student arrival and the new semester. So this new post is actually very timely and the advice is great.

    Good luck in the new job!


  4. Greg…best wishes to YOU! In my next book, Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More, I talk about this in Chapter One.

    Taking initiative and making things possible comes down to all four elements you describe. Can I add one (you’re already doing)? Here it is…

    “just. get. started.”

    I know, I know, you have the “Just Do It” listed there, but I find that sometimes, some people get a bit overwhelmed by the “bigness” of change. So, in just getting started, they take step after step, after step, and pretty soon…they’re there!

    Have a great week…

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