Taking on a new job – or new team or role – can be stressful. Sometimes the changes and demands of the new work situation can pull you away from your core identity. This can happen quietly and gradually, or even abruptly. You may realize that you experience an unrest with yourself, but you aren’t quite sure why. Or you may not know who you are anymore because how you act is so different from before. Maybe you just aren’t sure whether you still are true to who you are, because of changes you’ve made to adjust to the new position. It’s important to stay true to who you are for your own wellbeing. Also, the more you show up authentically for yourself, the more clarity you can have in decision-making, prioritizing, and connecting with others at work. Here are some tips on how to stay true to who you are, regardless of where you are in the transition to a new job role and how centered you feel on your core identity.
Get Clear on Who You Are
First, remind yourself of your personality traits, your strengths, your passions, and your values. In terms of personality traits, what are the top five adjectives you would use to describe yourself? Consider asking people who have known you well for a while also to describe you with adjectives. What would you say are your strengths? List them. The same thing goes for your passions. Lastly, think of the biggest values that you want to honor – those principles that are or have been a driving force in your life. Things like honesty, hard work, compassion, family, etc. Here is a list of values to help you decide on your own. Find a way to remind yourself of who you are by assembling this information in a way that is helpful to you. You may want to capture all of this information as separate lists, or summarize your lists into a few words or sentences, or create an image that helps you identify with the core of who you are. At any rate, try to have something that you can keep at work and look at to remind you of who you are when you need to be reminded.
Have a Vision for the “Work You”
Once you are clear on who you are, then it is time to think about how you want to show up at work. Take what you already know about yourself and determine which of your traits, strengths, passions, and values you want to bring into the work setting. Consider finishing this sentence: “I show up for work as _____.” Or this sentence: “My leadership style is _____.” If you were to bring your best self to work, what would that look like? Again, create a visual reminder, whether by lists, statements, or images, to remind you of your vision.
Create Goals and Activities Based on Your Vision
Decide what you would like to get out of this position. Create goals that make sense for you. Then think about what relationships you want to cultivate, what activities you want to pursue, what skills you need to develop, and what resources you want to utilize to achieve your goals. Pick one goal at a time and begin to take action to achieve it. Periodically review the actions you have taken and the progress you have made toward your goal to determine whether this goal and your actions are still aligned with who you are at your core and with what you value.
Part of honoring who you are is in speaking up for yourself. Ask for what you want, need, and value. Look to your vision to determine what might be missing to actualize your vision. Create opportunities for yourself to bring more of your whole self to work. These opportunities can take the form of trainings (internal or external), mentors, affinity groups, or projects. Also, know your limits and boundaries based on your values and capacity. Based on this, stay true to who you are by saying no when appropriate.
Periodically Review Yourself and Your Vision
Make time to review your vision and sense of self. If you have made changes, look deep within to determine if the changes now reflect who you are or if they have moved you away from your core self. How are you feeling about yourself? If you feel centered and good about yourself, continue on! If something does not feel right, what needs to change? Your vision? Values? Activities? Before you make any changes, ask for honest feedback from trusted, supportive people who are willing to tell you what you don’t want to hear. If you can, ask for this feedback from people both at work and outside of work.
Self-care is a must. Do it regularly. Make sure that you are taking care of yourself both at work and outside of work. Tend to your physical needs by staying hydrated, eating well, exercising, and tending to your health needs. Establish and access a social support system at work AND outside of work. Tend to the other areas of your life so that your new job does not consume your identity. Find ways to laugh at and away from work. Take breaks. And, above all, be kind to yourself.
No matter where you are in transitioning to your new job, get clear on who you are, have a vision for the “work you”, create goals and activities based on your vision, be assertive, periodically review yourself and your vision, and always practice self-care. The more you do this, the more you will be able to stay true to who you are. May being true to you lead you to fulfillment and success.