Starting a new job? Michelle Obama has some wise words of advice

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Whether you’re starting a new job, thinking about changing careers or drafting your notice email, these wise words from Michelle Obama, Nora Ephron, Melinda Gates and more will give you the motivation to get going.

It doesn’t matter who you are – the first day in a new job is intimidating. Sure, you might be feeling confident, energetic and ready to hit the ground running, but there’s always that little niggle of uncertainty; that fear of the unknown.

“What if someone asks me something and I don’t know the answer?”

“What if everyone immediately hates me on sight?”

“What if I make tea using someone else’s mug, drop it, and it turns out to be a gift from a loved one?”

When you put it like that, it seems silly, right? But that doesn’t mean the feelings are invalid, and denying them won’t get rid of that new workplace anxiety. It needs to be confronted.

Below, we’ve assembled a crack team of inspirational women to give you an extra boost of motivation to face down that new job fear. Featuring Nasdaq president Adena Friedman, Oprah Winfrey and Olympian Meryl Davis, here are eight inspirational quotes to take with you in your shiny new work bag.

“The only way to learn is to keep doing something new”: Nora Ephron

In an interview with Believer, journalist and filmmaker Nora Ephron emphasised the importance of collaboration when starting a new job.

“The only way to learn is to keep doing something new, and, if you’re lucky, learning with people who really know how to do it,” she said.

“If there’s some part of you that’s questioning your career, it’s important to listen to that”: Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama at 2019 Essence Festival
Michelle Obama was first seen wearing her natural hair in public after leaving the White House.

“I was sitting in a sky-rise office, doing legal work that wasn’t fulfilling to me, and I couldn’t help but ask – what’s it all for?” Obama told GoodReads.

“Of course, you don’t need to suffer a major loss to prompt a reappraisal of your career. Almost everyone I know has switched paths somewhere along the line. So what I’d say is that reevaluating your career is good. Doing so shouldn’t be a cause for anxiety – it’s a way you can reaffirm who you want to be.

“If there’s some part of you that’s questioning your career, it’s important to listen to that. Our hearts sometimes know ourselves better than our minds do. For me, that meant pursuing a life of public service – a path I’ve been able to maintain since that major swerve.” 

“Be excited to embark on a new future”: Adena Friedman

President of NASDAQ Adena Friedman at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit
Starting a new job:

“Starting a new job can be nerve-racking, but it’s also exciting,” Adena Friedman, the president and CEO of stock exchange Nasdaq wrote in Fortune.

“You’re embarking on a new future, positioning yourself to write a fresh story on a clean slate. That’s both thrilling and a bit gut-wrenching, and if it is not that could be the source of the most common mistake I see among new hires: a tendency to act as if they’ve landed rather than just lifted off.”

“Having new lessons to learn is what life is all about”: Oprah Winfrey

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey had some truly inspirational words to share about starting a new job.

“It is confidence in our bodies, minds and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures, new directions to grow in, and new lessons to learn – which is what life is all about,” she wrote in Oprah Magazine.

“Treasure the things that make you uniquely you”: Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates and Oprah Winfrey speak onstage at Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations
Starting a new job: Melinda Gates and Oprah Winfrey.

“While you’re challenging yourself to embrace the discomfort of new environments and situations, also remember to treasure the things that make you uniquely you,” philanthropist Melinda Gates told CNBC

“The world doesn’t need more people who think and act the same — so resist the temptation to conform to what’s around you.” 

“Learn something unexpected”: Meryl Davis

“There are still some days that I long for the comfort and familiarity of my old life, devoting myself fully to something I knew, something I was good at and something I loved, but I’ve learned to accept that that was who I was then,” ice skater Meryl Davis wrote in SELF.

“I desperately want to grow in new and different directions. I want to embrace new challenges, open myself up to a world of fresh possibilities. I want to learn something unexpected. I want to surprise myself. This is who I want to be. This is who I strive to be now.” 

“Embrace what you don’t know”: Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely attends "GCAPP Empower Party to Benefit Georgia's Youth" at The Fox Theatre
Starting a new job:

Businesswoman and founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, shared some inspirational advice with USA Today.

“Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning, because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset. It ensures that you will absolutely be doing things different from everybody else.” 

“Build your skills, not your resume”: Sheryl Sandberg

Speaking during the Harvard Business School’s Class Day, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, referenced some brilliant careers advice she once got from Lori Goler, a board member of Lean In.

“Lori has a great metaphor for careers,” Sandberg began. “She says they’re not a ladder; they’re a jungle gym. As you start your post-HBS career, look for opportunities, look for growth, look for impact, look for mission. Move sideways, move down, move on, move off. Build your skills, not your resume. Evaluate what you can do, not the title they’re going to give you. Do real work. 

“Take a sales quota, a line role, an ops job, don’t plan too much, and don’t expect a direct climb. If I had mapped out my career when I was sitting where you are, I would have missed my career.”

philosophy is the wellbeing beauty brand inspiring you to look, live and feel your best, and is the official partner of Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards 2020.

Remarkable Women
Remarkable Women Awards 2020

Images: Getty

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