I recently started a part-time job “back in the real world” after years of working from home and child rearing. But things didn’t go as smoothly as I’d liked in the lead up to starting.
An extrovert by nature, I was shocked to discover that I was quite anxious about my re-entry into the big scary world of adult employment; what with all it’s business suits, meetings, egos, deadlines and bureaucracy.
I guess the list above is enough to scare anyone – but I wasn’t just anyone. I was a PEOPLE person who’d always loved going to work.
I began to wonder what had brought on this fear? After all, I’d been working from home and maintaining my skills for the last five years – in fact I’d gained new skills from parenting whilst running my own business and sourcing my own income.
I was actually a whole lot more qualified than I was the last time I’d stepped foot in an office. So what was it that had me chewing my fingernails before bed and getting up numerous times throughout the night to stare at the lounge room ceiling?
Eek, it was PEOPLE !!! Yes little ole social animal me was actually afraid of interacting with people. I’d spent so long working from home amongst the green grassy paddocks of outer Western Brisbane, that I’d lost confidence in my ability to communicate with people in a professional manner.
I’d had horses and chickens to keep me company whilst working from home, but mingling with people in a corporate, professional space suddenly scared the hell out of me! This was a shocking revelation, as I’d always been someone who LOVED going to work for the social aspect.
Yet here I was, scared about something I’d always enjoyed about work. There was only one solution! I needed to put my thinking cap on and devise a list to help me overcome my fears so I could step confidently forward into the land of professional employment once more.
So here are my six pointers to overcoming fear and anxiety prior to re-entering the workforce:
1. Firstly, figure out what it is that is making you feel anxious or nervous. Write it down. Face your fears head on! Remember the times when you have confidently and successfully done the things that are scaring you. Write them down and read them.
2. Recognise and validate that it is natural to be nervous about starting something new. Most transitions have a three months adjustment period.
3. Give yourself a confidence boost and write down a list of your skills – old and new. You’ll be surprised how many new skills you’ve gained since stepping away from the workplace. Remember to include the expertise you’ve gained from parenting.
4. BREATHE – take some time to RELAX prior to starting your new job. Do things that make you feel good – things that will take your mind off any anxiety – read a book, go to a movie, have lunch with a friend – after all you won’t have time to do these things once you start work.
5. Plan ahead – write a list of things to do prior to starting your job, like updating your wardrobe, sorting kids lunches in advance etc. Writing a “to do list” and working your way through it will help make the transition easier.
6. BELIEVE in yourself – there is nothing more important than this – there is no-one else like you – no one who does things the way you do, in your unique and fabulous way. Embrace all the good in yourself so you walk into your new workplace feeling on top of the world.
And so it began – my first day on the job! And you know what – I didn’t feel nervous at all – I’d dealt with my fears and given myself the space to reflect on all the positive skills and qualities I possess.
There was no need to worry. My colleagues are great, the work is enjoyable and guess what – I COULD still do the work – and do it WELL. And I’m back to my ole “people person” self.
Sometimes all it takes is a little relaxation and reflection to alleviate internal fears. So get out there and conquer your employment dreams!