Starting a new job can be intimidating – new people, new procedures, and new twists on even the most familiar tasks. Three years ago when I was new in my position as administrative coordinator at White + Burke, I was especially nervous about being responsible for the company’s invoicing and accounting procedures. I was brand new to accounting and my nervousness was exacerbated by my less-than-fond memories of math courses in school.
I had to confront that nervousness on the first day at my new job because it happened to be time to send out that month’s invoices. I still felt nervous about the accounting, but jumping right into it meant that anticipation anxiety was limited. A few months into my job, after several rounds of monthly invoicing (and trial and error), I developed confidence in what I was doing and accounting grew to be one of my favorite aspects of my job. The process helped to solidify for me several skills that are applicable to any intimidating new task:
• Make detailed notes during the initial learning process that you can refer back to later. This removes the pressure to remember every little detail the first time around.
• Self-reminders and build-in ‘checks’ can make it easier to find mistakes, or prevent them from happening in the first place.
• Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Telling yourself that it is not okay to make a mistake, or beating yourself up once you do, only gets in the way of efficiency and increases the likelihood of additional mistakes.
The lesson to be learned from this experience is that if the idea of doing something is nerve-wracking and uncomfortable, doing that thing just once or twice won’t remove your anxiety, and could even make it worse in the short term. Continuing to engage with that activity or task, however, builds confidence; familiarity grows and begins to drown out the discomfort that was once felt. For myself, understanding that process is especially important as a member of a team that manages long-term complex projects that have a way of putting a twist on even the most defined tasks. It is equally important for anyone who faces a new or intimidating challenge.
By: Emily Shaw