You’ve probably all heard the saying if at first you don’t succeed, try again. While I’m sure that’s true at any point in your career, I feel it’s more applicable in the beginning. I remember when I was in graduate school I was full of all of these ideas, hopes, and dreams of what all I could do as a school psychologist. I was almost about to burst in anticipation! When guest speakers would come into class they would caution us about doing too much in our first few years. They recommended we just put our efforts into getting to know the teachers, staff, students, and individual needs in our school. Just get great at the basics is what they would tell us. Still in my optimistic and naive brain I thought I can do it all my first year!
In my first year I did do a couple extras, but I quickly found out just how much effort and time doing the basics really required. As my second year of being a fully licensed school psychologist on my own is coming to an end, I am more realistic about what I can truly fit in to my day. However, I am more confident in the basics and now they aren’t taking quite as much time. I am optimistic in the future that I can slowly add and revise my practice and services each year. For example, next year I plan to start a life skills class at one of my school’s after school program. I also want to create more professional development presentations for my teachers and staff even though I get so nervous to speak publicly!
All of this is to say your first few years are all trial and error, and I believe that’s normal. Be kind to yourself- don’t give up and don’t beat yourself down. I’d rather do the basics well and cautiously than to over extended myself during my first few years. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. Sometimes, especially during the first year, it can be tempting to want to appear like you know it all, but the only way to grow and improve is to learn and ask questions.
The first few years, at least for me, were filled with ups and downs. It’s important to not let the down times burn you out. You need to learn to accept that even with the best intentions you will make some mistakes, but rather than beating yourself up over it- learn from it. Use it to prepare for the next time that situations arises. Also, don’t forget you are a human with a personal life. You have to take care of yourself and do the things you enjoy aside from your job in order to be the best you at work.
While real life is often very different than what you imagined, try to never lose sight of why you are doing this. What got you started? What was your goal? What did you dream about? What type of impact did you want to make? If you stay connected to this, then you can make small manageable changes along the way to get you closer to this dream you’ve envisioned for so long.