Valerie Lynn

This is a letter to my future self about the things I hope I remember every time I start a new job. Writing a letter to my future self as opposed to my past self makes much more sense to me. There are websites out there to help you write letters to your younger self nowadays, too. A new site called Future Self, for example, lets you do just that. According to Forbes, the site uses a complicated combination of motion capture software, speech recognition and 3-D rendering, and then it creates a semi-realistic simulation of what you might look like in 2034 and then lets you ask questions about the future.

But the past is the past. It’s gone; it's done and it's over with. Now the future, the proverbial blank slate, is mine to create. Only I can remind myself of my true, heart of heart, secret professional goals and life dreams because only I really, truly know them. If when I read the letter and didn’t do what I had planned on, I can give myself a proverbial kick-in-the-pants to get going on those goals.

It’s an interesting exercise to write to your future self and then read it. I had never considered it before but, after doing it, I am convinced it’s a worthwhile exercise — and you can write a letter and open it in a month, three months or even just two weeks if you are going through a challenging time. I found that it helped move me forward as I held myself more accountable. 

When I sat down to write myself for the first time I thought about “What would I want to remind myself of in the future each time I started a new job, project or business venture?" and "What would my professional goals be in three to six months and overall in years to come?” Re-centering and reminding myself to be present in the moment and get back to the basics was what came up for me during the first letter. 

Dear Valerie,

Congratulations on your new job! Your career is important to you and you don’t change jobs often, so this letter will remind you of the basics of how to best approach a new position from day one and during those first few months.   

1. Preparing for the First Day of Work

Ask your manager how you may prepare for the first day of work. In addition to public reading materials on the company and its products, such as annual reports or company newsletters, there may be internal publications you can read. Ask Human Resources where you should report on your first day. Some new hires start in an orientation while others go directly to their department. Don’t arrive too early on the first day; 10 minutes early is perfect.

2. Understanding Company Culture

Understanding the company culture ensures there is a right fit for you. This is done by observing and asking questions. For example, when communicating internally, is the preference instant messenger, phone call or email? What language is used when responding to client communications? What is the typical dress code in the office and outside meeting clients? Each organization has its own culture that you must identify and become familiar with sooner rather than later. Don’t forget the website Glassdoor, can provide a general understanding of what to expect — but you need to experience it for yourself. 

3. Understanding the Organizational Chart

Understand the official and unofficial hierarchy within an organization. The people in your department that you report to and work with are normally easy to identify. However also recognize people you will be working with outside of your department and those who rely on the work you generate. For example, if you are responsible for writing a monthly report and it is late, how will this impact other departments? 

4. Prioritizing Building Key Relationships

Cultivating relationships with your new colleagues from day one demonstrates your interest to be part of the team. Don’t get completely caught up with learning the day-to-day technical aspects of the job. At the end of the day organizations are made up of people. Ask colleagues what projects they are working on currently or how things are done in the organization. Invite peers for an introductory coffee or lunch. People will normally be very helpful in the beginning until you get settled in.

5. Recording Informational Meetings

During the on-boarding process, when you are being exposed to a lot of new information, it is beneficial to record these conversations as long as everyone knows they are being recorded and why. This allows you to be present in the conversation and maximize the time each colleague is giving up for you. It’s easy to get caught up in a conversation and forget to take notes. Recording can easily be done using a free ap on your phone. Then you can go back and listen to information and not have to ask questions over.

6. Setting 30, 60 and 90-Day Goals

Set measurable goals by identifying areas where you can deliver meaningful results to asses your growth in your new position. Make a list of your responsibilities in order of importance and not personal preference. We tend to gravitate to responsibilities we enjoy instead of a priority. 

7. Doing 12-Minute Meditation

Starting a new job can be stressful and you may be feeling overwhelmed. Remember to practice 12-minute meditation at least four times per week at a time during the day when you are feeling stressed or tired. This will declutter your mind, so you can focus.

That’s the basics you need to remember. Oh, and life is going to be full of ups and downs, but with hard work, big dreams and a focus on the things that matter and the people you love, I know you'll be able to achieve a lot of happiness. So, my future version, I hope you take this advice and carry it with you on your life journey. And you are going to be great in this your new position! 

Wishing you great success from your past self.