As a professional I have encountered clients who felt disillusioned after starting a new position. The job that they were looking forward to feels very different to what they had hoped.
Especially for individuals who entered the job market recently, expectations of a job often don’t match reality. Of course, once you are in the situation it can feel exhausting and quite worrisome to imagine your future feeling like this. What can you do when your job is not what you expected, or has changed over time in ways that you don’t agree with?
Give yourself some time
When we are facing a transition period, such as starting a new job or experiencing changes of the job due to organizational reasons we often feel out of balance. This is completely normal. In a new or changing environment we will need some time to regain our balance and get used to the situation. So rather than panicking and quitting immediately, give yourself time to adjust to the job. This can take varying amounts of time, but at least a couple of weeks. Instead of trying to become perfect in this new environment straight away, try to develop a growth mindset. A growth mindset focuses on learning rather than achieving. Instead of being fearful of making mistakes you can look back at mistakes and notice ways in which you can improve in the future (Dweck, 2008).
Still feeling out of balance?
Let’s say that a few months have passed and you are still feeling out of place. Despite the fact that you have tried to learn from mistakes you feel that the situation is not quite right. Try to understand what it is that makes you feel bad. Which factors of your job, the work environment or your own working style are stopping you from feeling better? Do you feel stressed because of constantly changing schedules? Do you feel that the amount of work you have to complete is overwhelming? Or perhaps you feel lost in trying to organize your own work schedule? You don’t have to figure it all out by yourself.
You can reach out for help and receive support. A friendly colleague, who has worked in the company for a while might help you out with their experience. If you are working in a bigger company, there might be information materials about the procedures to help with your problems. Finally, you will probably have a supervisor or even a mentor who you feel comfortable opening up to, who could provide necessary instructions. It is important not to stay stuck, but instead to try and work actively towards improving your situation.
Evaluate your options
After you have tried to figure out your problems, you might still feel uncomfortable. At this point it makes sense to evaluate your options. Quite often it is possible to minimize the time you have to spend on tasks that are especially trying to you, or even achieve a change in your role responsibilities so that you won’t have to deal with them at all. The most important factor to making changes is clear communication with those who are capable of helping you. Ask for a clarifying conversation. Prepare well for it: What is it exactly that you would like to change? Could you perhaps help out in other ways that fit better with your professional expertise and interests? If your issues are centered around another person you frequently encounter at work, you can check out this Auntie blog post about how to deal with difficult colleagues.
Generally, these kinds of conversations about the change of responsibilities fall under the umbrella term of “job crafting”. The overarching idea behind this concept is to clarify and adjust the work responsibilities rather than resigning and looking for a new position. Research has shown that employees who engage in job crafting are more likely to feel satisfied at work (Zito et. al, 2019). Additionally, looking for new employees and filling positions is a costly activity for employers. It is in their interest to keep the qualified and motivated employees at the company, rather than having to go through the process of finding replacements.
The shoe does not fit
If after all of this you have not been able to make changes to your work that support your well-being and allow you to find meaning in your work, it is perhaps time to look for other opportunities.
This does not necessarily mean you have to resign. Before you decide to leave, consider whether you could move within the company. Sometimes the problems we encounter in our direct work environment are due to a lack of connection with the team members or its focus, rather than the whole company. It might be possible that another team within the company might be a better fit for you.
The next option is to consider expanding your career alongside your current job. Some people find professional happiness by starting a business besides their job and later decrease the amount of hours or days they spend there.
Finally, if there are no opportunities within the company available to you, and you don’t see entrepreneurship in your future, you might start looking for a new job. It is up to you if you prefer to go job hunting full-time or whether you want to stay in your current position until you have found another job.
The Auntie package Lost in Transition is designed to support you in situations such as dissatisfaction with your work life or adjustment to change. With the help of an Auntie Professional you will focus on finding actionable solutions that fit best for you.
Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset : the new psychology of success . Ballantine Books.
Zito, M., Colombo, L., Borgogni, L., Callea, A., Cenciotti, R., Ingusci, E., & Cortese, C. G. (2019). The Nature of Job Crafting: Positive and Negative Relations with Job
Satisfaction and Work-Family Conflict. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(7), 1176–.
BSc. and MSc. Psychologist and relaxation therapist. I believe in a flexible, client-focused approach to my work and actively help people to find immediately practical solutions for their issues with tools that work for them. I have a special passion for helping my clients in achieving a balanced approach to work and down time, which ensures constant and sustainable productivity. Together we try out different techniques that we adjust and "troubleshoot" over the course of the sessions. Independent of where my clients start, they will leave the sessions with a variety of psychological tools to help them cope better at work and in their private life.