… especially after a sabbatical.
A year ago, I jumped back on the “working a job” bandwagon and when I signed my letter of appointment, it was with mixed feelings. I was quite relieved because now I could shop all I wanted but more importantly, I was moving in the direction of my personal goals. I have this vision of who I would like to become 5 years from now and its feels incredible to be moving in that direction. But, I also felt a sense of resentment for having to wake up early, staying away from my dogs at length and not pursuing “my soul-calling” as much. But, such is change and change is always good.
Change is always accompanied with challenges, and it’s like the departure of something which doesn’t serve us as much or if we were to be realistic .. the economy’s bad and its time to wear your big girl panties.
The first couple of weeks at my new job, I found myself clueless on innumerable things such as :
The initial boredom, change in sleep/rest cycle, depleting energy levels, fatigue. I was clueless as to where I was getting my next meal from (seriously!). Weight gain, the wardrobe dilemmas, and finally coping with an office situation where my coworkers expected me to be a twin reincarnation of my predecessor, whose place I was filling.
Tackling the “Change Monsters”
For initial awkwardness – (that too shall pass)
Be yourself, but if you’re a basic badass, you might just need to tone down a little bit. The best bet is to be professional and polite. Take your time to get to know your colleagues. They will most certainly be a mixed bunch, and it seems ideal to think of it in terms of “5 years from now“, would you still be friends with your colleagues? What would you like for them to say about you, maybe 2 years later? Having said that, there is an office culture which you’re probably stepping into, watch and learn, darling.
Basically, build meaningful and cordial relationships.
For the boredom – Carry earphones/music
When we say that an environment is ‘boring’ there are a ton of things which could attribute to it being so. For example, the workload is intense, whereby people simply don’t have the time to discuss unimportant-non work related things. The work-culture could be promoting a serious air, or maybe people are just afraid, I don’t know. Whatever it is, it needs to be accepted as it is. It’s great to have a fun workplace with quirky colleagues, but sometimes that becomes a source of annoyance, too. Be empathetic and realistic. Put yourself in your colleagues shoes and estimate when would be appropriate to chat.
Conclusion : Carry Music, Earphones, let the internet keep things ‘fun’ for you, till you’ve figured the office situation out.
Note: I know, that the advice sounds like a ton of self-sacrifice and adjusting the attitude, when the best option would be to find an alternative space to work. But, it does help to remember that work is work and you havent gone there to make friends, and that it’s probably a phase, till you can move on to a better opportunity.
However, if you have any advice, do feel free to comment/add! 🙂
Change in sleep pattern and reduction of the time you have for yourself
There isn’t much one can do about the sparsity of time when you’ve just joined a new work space. It literally feels like, there is so much to do and so little time. But, sleep has to be a priority and here’s what I found helpful:
Sleep Cheat Sheet
You will probably experience a dip in your Energy levels, until you get acclimatized to the situation, especially after a sabbatical. Its easier said than done, though, but in order to maximize your energy and resilience, sleep and fitness are a no brainer.
For the mind – meditate and keep learning something new, as often as you can. Never alter your learning curve for anything.
-For the soul – leave work at work. This is something, that you may or may not experience depending on how excited you are about your new job role. I, for one, was so stoked about putting my best work forward, that led me to bringing work home because of which, my life started revolving around my 9-5. Honestly, It’s so unhealthy. I’m learning to make the things I love a priority again and in order to do that I need to wrap up my work at work.
For the Fatigue: Fatigue remedies
Some of the books I found helpful, on time management are :
-Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy
-and 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris.
The Not-So-Exciting weight gain
Depending on what your job role is, chances are you will put on a few pounds, and it isn’t just because of the amount of food that you are eating, but additionally the activity level, the sleep cycle, the increased alcohol intake, etc. To combat the extra pounds its simple yet exhausting (initially); but you must work out, get enough rest – to stay sharp and fit, meal prep and cut back on unhealthy snacking.
On a personal note : Why is gaining a few pounds so important to me?
It’s just a part of my mental make up I suppose because when I look around me, people are perfectly content with a size 14 or even 18. When I was 13, for fear of obesity, my mom would quite literally “forced aka blackmailed” me into working out. Aah memories ! 🙂 I, of course hated the idea back then, but I’ve come to learn that isn’t as much about how you look, as opposed to how you feel. I’ve transitioned from “I have to look really fit” to “man, I need to feel really fit! It’s time.”
For many reasons I feel the need to maximize my energy and in order to achieve that goal, I have to eat right, stay as active as possible, despite the Dubai Heat! and of course I have to work out.
A side note though, its imperative to set realistic long-term goals. The tortoise won the race now, didn’t he? Based purely on personal experience, I was so stoked about being fit that I was doing 50 minutes of indoor cycling! That’s great, but on the flip side, it’s been a while since I last did that and (as you can see) the temperatures are crazy especially this time of the year.
And I fell ill. So frikkin counter-productive, right?
So, the build up is the key. I intend to go slow and steady now, and build up to a point where I can do a 50 min run or whatever, without having to fall ill!
Lunch? What, no lunch?!
That my friends, is a BIGGG bummer! There is no cafeteria and there are barely any restaurants next to my new office space.
To give you a better idea of why this sucked for me personally is because I’ve never carried a lunch box in my life! Yep ..never! Not even back in school. So, coming to the conclusion that I would need to meal prep, was herculean.
What this meant was:
Packing your favorite food;
Sizing your portions perfectly, etc etc.
Lets not forget the effort over the weekends.
With a few hours of effort over the weekends, I can assure you a happy tummy. There are tons of sites and pages I found where people ‘meal-prep’ for the entire week. It’s artfully amazing.
As a result, I now know exactly what I’m eating and I can alter it, as per my wish, my energy and dietary requirements. Believe me when I say, if you’re a foodie, carry your own lunch and snack till you have the office situation figured out. And.. dont forget to eat breakfast! For real.
On a psychological level:
Perhaps you’ve just landed yourself a job which is a newly created one or you are filling in for someone who’s left. It’s always better to be in the first situation rather than the latter, simply because. In addition to have to cope with a completely new and alien work environment, you now also have to deal with your co-worker’s preset expectations.
Whatever it is, especially if someone has left before you, you need to be respectful of the fact that there will be a grieving period. These are just some basic teething problems and with time, they will pass, too.
Here’s how I dealt with it:
Of course its rude when someone says to you ,”you know that girl before you did this” or “but, she did it that way!” because honestly, you don’t even know if they are making stuff up just because you’re new!
Honestly, I already have quite a bit on my plate, in terms of my professional goal achievement and optimal productivity, to be left guessing, why someone said something inappropriate; after a few weeks of trying to figure out “wtf, are they making stuff up?”.
I’ve started taking a “grieving process” approach, when someone mentions the poor girl who was working before me. Call me an ahole*, but it’s not nice to be constantly told by people from different departments, what in their opinion, is the right way of doing your job! The only logical conclusion seems to be, that they are not over my predecessor. It’s really that simple. So, this way, I can know how long will they fully accept me in the work place.
Anyway, a process of grieving has 5 stages:
PS : Whatever you do, remember that you are doing your best and that you are superman/woman. We make mistakes and we learn and we get better. Inadvertently, there will be a few bumps along the way, but hey , listen to this track and watch things fall into perspective. Just don’t forget your swag, yeah?!