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Changed jobs: What have I done?

By Lynne Curry

You expect to feel angry when fired from a job you enjoy.

You expect to feel scared when laid off from a job at which you felt secure.

You don’t expect to feel rotten one week after you intentionally make a career move from a job you’ve outgrown to one that promises to be challenging and rewarding.

So why are you so rattled during your first week on this new job?

Sudden job change takes you from a job and practice in which you know who’s who and what’s what and throws you into situations you need to navigate without a clear road map. Before you have the chance to learn your new employer’s unwritten rules, including whom to trust and who might take things the wrong way, you face job challenges that require that you make judgment calls. This resembles what happens to a circus performer who lets go one trapeze before catching the second. You wonder, at least briefly, “Will I be the one out of 100 who doesn’t catch the second trapeze?”

If you recently changed jobs and feel a slight “what have I done and am I up to this?” uneasiness, five strategies can help you gain a firm grip on the new job’s “trapeze.”

  • Avoid comparing your present job to your old one. When you compare, you divide your focus between the former and the new job, and often pedestal the former job, remembering parts of it that you miss.
  • Keep your eye on the new ball game. A surprising number of job changers—particularly those who step from technical or employee into supervisory roles or receive promotions within their current companies—seek the comfort of their former job duties when the going gets rough in their new positions. Those who slide backwards into former duties steal the hours they need to succeed in their new job and expend them on the familiar. If backsliding beckons you, fast-forward in your mind to a time six months from now. Which will help you more: spending hours doing the duties you already know, or learning the challenging new duties essential to your upgraded position?
  • Choose the new. Many of us bring old methods into new positions, forgetting that we gain if we learn new ways in which to operate. Instead of expecting others to learn to work in the ways you find most familiar, decide you’ll adopt your new organization’s practices.

As an example, those of us who like to talk things through often find it irritating when our new bosses and coworkers prefer to e-mail instructions. Frustrated, we complain that “there’s no dialogue here” and miss the fact that our new coworkers produce more by avoiding needless conversations.

By expecting our new supervisor and coworkers to conform to our former ways of doing things, we proclaim ourselves a square object hoping to find happiness in a round location. We need to realize we can be the very best player in a game no longer played or we can learn the rules of the new game.

  • Avoid self-sabotage. When things don’t work out easily, some employees let self-doubting self-talk take over. “I’ll never be able to figure this out,” they tell themselves. “The person who hired me is probably, right now, cursing the moment they hired me.” If you let self-criticism flood your brainwaves, you dilute your ability to tackle your new challenge.

Do you find yourself wondering whether you can grasp the second trapeze handle? Reach forward, not back.

Lynne Curry, PhD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP and author of “Beating the Workplace Bully,” AMACOM 2016, and “Solutions” is President of Communication Works, Inc. and founder of, which offers more than 400 articles on topics such as leadership, COVID, management, HR, and personal and professional development.  Curry has qualified in Court as an expert witness in Management Best Practices, HR and Workplace issues. You can reach her at or @lynnewriter10@gmailcom or @lynncecurry10 on twitter.









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