Well-Being//

How to Prioritize Your Well-being When Starting a New Job

From setting boundaries to speaking up about what matters, these tips will help you start out right.

Prostock-studio / Shutterstock
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

Getting a new job is exciting. But settling in often entails major adjustments, adapting to the workflow and an unfamiliar environment. You want to show that you are capable and productive, but it’s also important to take care of yourself and recharge and reset on a daily basis. 

That means prioritizing your own well-being from the start, Risa Mish, a professor of management at Cornell University, tells Thrive. 

“It’s true, you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” she says. “However, people often misinterpret this to mean that they should spend their first weeks (and even months) of a new job showing that they will dedicate their every waking moment to it. You will be on the fast track to burnout, which is no one’s idea of a good work or personal life strategy.” 

Instead, get a clear understanding of what’s expected of you from the outset and clarify what your responsibilities will be. 

“It’s important to provide a way of organizing our time and energy so that we can bring our best self to our work, while not sacrificing the best of ourselves to only one part of an otherwise healthy life,” says Mish.

Here are five tips to help you do exactly that.

Have a conversation with your boss

In your initial meeting with your manager, says Mish, “invest quality time to understand what a successful performance in your job looks like.” Ask what goals your team is expected to achieve, and how your role will contribute. “Get clear on how often you’re expected to communicate with your manager and what method she prefers; for example, Slack or email.”

Set a clear end to your day 

Avoiding a state of “permawork” requires a clear end to the workday. It’s important because the spillover of work into our personal and family lives can take a toll on our mental and physical health. For example, “If you tell your co-workers you are available to respond to emails and texts until 7 p.m. and will respond the following morning to any messages sent after 7, stick to your plan.” According to Mish, “You teach people how to treat you, not by what you say, but by how you behave. If you don’t make good on your promises — to them and to yourself — you can’t expect others to respect your boundaries.”

Don’t apologize for sticking to boundaries you’ve set

Once you’ve agreed on boundaries, there is no need to say you’re sorry when you start enforcing them, says Mish. “Don’t apologize, and don’t over explain. Instead, say something like: ‘That sounds like an interesting assignment. Because I am currently working on X and Y, which I understand to be top priorities for the team, I wouldn’t be able to give this the attention it deserves.’” If you get pushback, Mish says, ask your manager how they want you to prioritize assignments.

Share responsibilities at home and protect your space

If you are working from home and live with others, try to divide responsibilities fairly, says Mish. “If your family members, partner, or roommates have gotten used to ‘non-working you,’ then it is critically important to be candid about what you are going to need from them once you start the new job,” says Mish. For example, if your door is closed, let them know whether they should knock, and at what time of day you need to be undisturbed. If you are co-parenting, agree with your spouse when he or she will need to take primary responsibility for your children and/or pets. Once you and your partner agree on boundaries and delineation of duties, make sure to respect them as you would want them to respect you. 

Make time to reset and recharge

It’s important to recharge when you are not working. We all have responsibilities, but be sure to find time for yourself. That could mean taking a walk in nature, reading a book, or watching a favorite T.V. show. And carve out a little time for mindfulness. Science shows that when we do any kind of mindfulness practice,like breathing exercises or meditation, we’re likely to be more productive, less stressed, and generally more joyful.

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