Lately it’s felt impossible to write. I typically write about something in the past that I feel like I’ve conquered; it’s a lot harder to write about something when I don’t know what will happen.

I took on a new role at the start of the year – I have a new manager, new peers and a new set of stakeholders. The environment of novelty all around me is a breeding ground for feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt. Am I in over my head? Will I be able to succeed?

Despite this specific situation being new, I find myself practicing the same habits that have gotten me this far – through other unfamiliar, uncomfortable situations.

Build knowledge and relationships

When I’ve felt intimidated by new codebases in the past, I’ll follow every call hierarchy and debug every view until I slowly build confidence through raw knowledge. In this case, I am digging deep into our metrics and user behaviors so I know the product inside and out when stakeholders ask questions. I also know from prior jobs that it’s very easy to be intimidated by people until I get to know them. Especially in leadership positions, building relationships is crucial to success. I’m getting to know my colleagues as people before trying to get anything done.

Operate sustainably

To ensure I can physically and mentally sustain a tough work life, I am rigorous about prioritizing sleep and exercise and managing stress. It might sound crazy, but my morning runs take 1-2 hours and I need 8.5 hours of sleep; as a result, I’ve jettisoned any plans that don’t suit my 8pm wind-down time. Even being well-rested, I still have to make the actual workday tolerable. A new situation will inevitably create stress, but I minimize it as much as possible by decoupling unnecessary urgency from tasks. Leaders are often unaware of how much implicit weight their statements carry, so I specifically ask for timelines so as to not be constantly context-switching to the latest thing a higher-up pinged me on Slack. Having some amount of control over timing allows me to work hard but not be a maniac.

Push yourself

New experiences are always growth opportunities. With every subsequent marathon I’ve run, I improve on my two biggest challenges: fueling and pacing. In my career, I’ve gotten a lot better about not being a pain in the ass. The main thing I continue to work on is speaking clearly and concisely. Because this role centers even more around influence and leadership than my previous, more executional roles, I find myself being much more careful with my words and organizing my thoughts before meetings.

I’ve stepped into a new role many times; this time the stakes feel higher but I have less self-doubt. Because I’m staying healthy, I can take bigger risks and tolerate more uncertainty and discomfort. I’m reasonably confident in my methodology, but I’ll check back in a couple months and let you know how it’s going.