Several of my readers have expressed some anxiety when it comes to getting their first chance. Many think they are hopeless, as they have never done it before. By not having certain socio-emotional skills and languages on their "psychological resume", they feel like they have an obvious flaw, as if applying for a job were like asking someone out.
Given their lack of experience, others worry that their first opportunity will be a complete failure because they wouldn’t know how to handle it.
So let's talk about that first time.
Your first one
The one in which you dive deep without really knowing what to expect, the one that blends happiness and apprehension at once. The only problem is, the odds that your first connection is also going to be your last one are pretty slim. Right, nobody likes to think about their project being temporary. Beginning by telling yourself from the start that you will end up splitting up, that's not very romantic. But again, pretending that it's not a possibility doesn’t do you any good either.
Don't take it the wrong way, I'm not saying you should start each project with the idea that it is doomed to failure. Quite the opposite, you should enter it with the idea that you will appreciate every moment. You will enjoy a lot, you will learn a lot and it will make you stronger. So yes, your first experience may not be the last one, but it's not something you have to fear. Appreciate it for what it is, enjoy every instant.
Your first break up
Okay, the first experience will probably not be the last one, but how do you know when it's time to move out?
If you ask this question to 10 people, you will get 10 different answers. For some people, it's after 3 to 5 years. There is no single answer that applies to all cases, but there is a great deal of research showing that there are a few key signs that signal it's time to move.
One of the hardest parts of life is discerning the pointless attempts from the decisive struggles, deciding whether to walk away (adapting to reality) or to try harder (and when insisting, to what extent that would be reasonable). It is a silent battle. No one understands how you really feel.
But if it ends, the separation does not cancel out the good things that have happened. On the contrary, everything you learned during that first experiment could help you prepare the next one. Growing up is sometimes a painful process but you become more confident and more experienced.
Getting ready for changes
Meeting and spending days with a person or team for weeks, months, years.
Seeing them and exchanging with her almost every day, sharing, and evolving together on common projects.
Seeing them more often than your own friends, more often than your own family (especially if you live far from your hometown).
And then, just stop seeing them. Overnight. This is the change.
You will need to get out of your comfort zone and out of your routines. Adaptation, the ability to become accustomed to new environments, and to new conditions with speed and ease, it is not just an important skill, it is essential.
Moving on to something better
You would not be able to reproduce this first experiment in the same way, you should not expect to find the same thing elsewhere. You have to be open to new experiences and new people. Do not be so stuck in the past to the point of not appreciating the present. You were lucky to have meet that interesting opportunity, but it does not mean that there would not be other opportunities equally interesting, and why not, even more interesting, if you open yourself to the idea of studying them.
You cannot recreate that first connection exactly, but you can find much better.
Begin by acknowledging that there is nothing special about the first one. It is true that it was a wonderful time and you discovered many things, but people tend to romanticize, to idealize, even to glorify the first time they experience something. There is probably nothing special about your first experience beyond the fact that it was the first one. Remember that you are biologically wired to place your first experiences on a pedestal. You certainly do not want to let this mentality to get in the way of enjoying the present.
There is a good chance that you will remember this so-called first experience in a somewhat exaggerated manner. As a result, this may lead you to some inappropriate comparisons. Comparison causes conflict. Conflict causes anxiety. Anxiety causes fear. Fear prevents you from thinking. There is no intelligence where there is fear.
Learning experience : getting stronger
Instead of seeing the first times as perfect situations, view them in terms of experience, it was practice to some extent. Analyze and value what you have learned about yourself, about others, about your abilities, your affinities and your ambitions.
Your first job is like your first girlfriend
The similarities of the contexts are indisputable. On the other hand, there are also some differences. Let us explore these differences before separating. Let us emphasize the case of employment, or it is easy to imagine everything that can go wrong during the transition. There are 2 fundamental questions that you want to ask yourself before you leave.
Did you learn all that you could ?
Before you leave a job, consider the set of skills you would like to present to a future employer. Works long enough to show that you have evolved through concrete achievements. Depending on the industry and the type of work you are doing, it may be possible to standout, to demonstrate your skills and the successful execution of a few projects. In any case, it is always better if you can present or describe a strong track record to those who are likely to recruit you.
Did you sign your next contract ?
The key recommendation is not to leave a position until you have the next one lined up. It is important to have the safety net of a new position because you never know how long it will take to find something that really suits you. Moreover, it is harder to find a job when you are unemployed than when you are employed.
Getting far away from here...
Everyone ends up leaving their first job, whether it happens after 2 months or after 40 years. However, certain steps must be taken in order to leave properly and professionally, in order not to burn any bridges.
When checking out:
- Schedule, negotiate your handover and final dates
- Organize your projects, documents, and other files for other people to use easily.
Keep positive relationships with them until you leave. You'll probably need their recommendations.
Staying in touch. Your former employer and your co-workers are now members of your professional network, so make sure you stay connected with them, for example on LinkedIn or Twitter.
To conclude, we can't stop students and yuppies from thinking of themselves as the stars of history, but we can remind them that the early contacts constitute the first chapters, not the final chapters. Your first love, the one you must protect at all costs, is yourself. You do what you think is best for yourself, and if it doesn't work, you say "never mind, at least I would have tried."