Skip to content

Ask Coach Tony: Did I Make A Mistake Taking A New Job?

In Ask Coach Tony, you can put my Operation Melt coaching to the test by asking me questions about how to achieve your goals. 

Because a question asked by one is often a question had by many, I am regularly sharing these answers via the Operation Melt blog.


Before we jump into today's post, I offer you this "dad joke" as a light "amuse-bouche" to entertain your mind before we get serious. Like any other amuse-bouche, you may hate it, but it is worth every penny you paid for it, right?

I just lost my job as a psychic. I did not see that coming.

Ask Coach Tony: Did I Make A Mistake Taking A New Job?

Coach Tony: I started a new job a couple of weeks ago, and I think I made a mistake. In part, I left my old job (of five years) to reduce stress, but my stress level is off the charts. I don’t know what I am doing, I don’t know any people, and I am not getting much done in my new job. Did I make a big mistake taking this job?

First off, congratulations on your new job! Taking steps forward with your career and personal development is always commendable. It takes bravery to fight the inertia that comes along with your comfort zone.

Unfortunately, getting outside your comfort zone is often… well… uncomfortable.

Job changes are always a bit stressful. It starts with a little bout of those dreaded “first day of school” jitters. You are starting a new job with all new people. These jitters subside as they are replaced with that first day (or first week) whirlwind of filling out forms, orientation, setting up your workstation and meeting people.

Then, once that first-day whirlwind is done, reality sets in. It is time to do the job.

Syncopated Symphony

In your mind’s eye, picture a symphony orchestra. There they are, nearly one hundred players, sitting on the stage in front of you. They start playing your favorite (or at least well-known) piece of classical music. Impressive, isn’t it?

Imagine if a brand new cellist, who has only been with the symphony for a week, is sitting in for her first performance with the group. While she is a world-class cellist, she isn’t fitting in yet and is just a bit off. Reading the music for the first time, she is a beat or two behind everyone else and occasionally plays the wrong notes.

While here errors are minor, this inexperienced cellist would stick out like a sore thumb. Music, like many other aspects of life, has a rhythm to it. When somebody isn’t following this same rhythm, they stand out. Standing out in the wrong way at the wrong time can be jarring. Though, when done correctly, syncopated rhythms can be beautiful – think jazz.

It is likely that, in your new job, you are this world-class cellist. Your off-rhythm notes are jarring to you and are causing stress. Fortunately, with a few key strategies, you can manage your way through this stress and get to the beautiful music.

Grace Notes

I want to start with the most critical step you can take to the beautiful music.

Give yourself a little grace, and be patient with yourself.

It is not a reasonable expectation that you will be an expert in a new job during the first few weeks. If this is an expectation you have for yourself, it is time to adjust it. Your new boss and team certainly don’t (or shouldn’t) have that expectation.

Great symphonies take time and practice!

Savor Your Syncopation

There is a unique opportunity hidden inside being new to a company or team – you are looking at everything with fresh eyes. This gives you the advantage of potentially adding value to the team that no existing member can.

You can only get a beginner’s mind once.

Ellen Ullman

Embrace your newness! Ask lots of questions about how the new team does things. But don’t stop with how; ask why they do them that way. It will help you understand and get up-to-speed, but it might also surface opportunities for improvement.

I am not suggesting that you come into a new job and tell them everything they are doing is wrong. Just approach it from a beginner’s perspective and with curiosity and humility.

Get Rhythm

As a great poet once said, “hey, get rhythm, when you get the blues.” Ok, that poet might have been Johnny Cash, but it is still good advice in this situation.

When you start a new job, spend the first few weeks building your own rhythm and routine. Which recurring meetings will you need to attend, and when will you prep for each? What will your Monday morning and end-of-week routines look like? What other “rituals” need to be part of your week.

You can use these standing routines and rituals as stepping stones to give you the sure footing needed to walk through your week. I’ll share a little secret about your brain: the more you can build a feeling of normalcy, the more at ease you will feel.

As The Man In Black said, “a jumpy rhythm makes you feel so fine, it’ll shake all your trouble from your worried mind.”

Don’t Stop the Music

While your stress level may be high today, it is likely temporary since your job is still new to you. Don’t panic or make a hasty situation to quickly bail on the new job. There was a reason you wanted to take the job in the first place.

Give yourself some time, be patient and see if the stress begins to subside as the newness wears off. Set a target date in the future for when you will re-evaluate whether this new job is working for you. That target date won’t just be a few days from now; a few months out is a better choice.

This strategy does not mean there are never valid reasons to exit a new job quickly. Some red flags may indicate you need to run away from a new job, not just walk. If any company (or boss) asks you to compromise your values, integrity or health, it is a sign that it isn’t a healthy place for you. Another potential red flag is if the terms of your job offer suddenly change on your first day; stand up for yourself now, lest this becomes a pattern.

Barring finding any of these rare red flags, please don’t stop the music. Your masterpiece symphony is just on the other side of the initial discomfort. You got this!

Ask Me Anything!

Do you have a question you would like to submit for a future Ask Coach Tony post? Whatever your question, I am here to help. Ask Me Anything!

Maybe you want to have a deeper conversation and get more one-on-one help, click here to learn more about my Operation Melt coaching services.

Meet Coach Tony

My name is Coach Tony, and I am a coach, author and project manager on a mission. I am working to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

I almost allowed one of my biggest life goals to die without ever being attempted for forty years. My goal almost died, not of failure but of loneliness. But, I took a risk and leveraged a simple, logical process that helped me wildly exceed my goal. 

I transformed my life, and you can do the same with the help of Operation Melt. 

Operation Melt provides engaging, practical content and hands-on coaching to inspire, motivate and equip project managers and other left-brained high-achievers to pursue and accomplish their biggest goals. 

Breathe new life into your goals

Download my free ebook to learn how to create goals that actually work and get the jump-start you need in life!

Published inAsk Coach Tony