6 Tips For You to Thrive Beyond the Honeymoon Phase in Your New Job.

Joel Bronkowski
8 min readMar 17, 2017

Eight months ago I left my role at WooCommerce (i.e.Automattic) where I worked remotely from Cape Town, Istanbul, Washington DC and London. I made a bold move to jump ship to Shopify, a competitor, and was thrilled about my new role — especially after a fantastic on-boarding experience.

It’s been an amazing ride so far but not without it’s challenges — being a remote employee for a company that has a strong office culture isn’t always easy, even though I’ve sincerely enjoyed being able to represent a company as big as Shopify in a burgeoning region. Having come from a company that taught me a ton about remote communication, it has also been meaningful to encourage a different way of communicating with each other at Shopify (more on that here).

However, all of life’s honeymoons cede to reality sooner or later. Whatever pleasure and value we derive from our jobs can easily become relative. It has happened for me in past roles and more recently in my current one. So, after much brainstorming and deliberation on how to address this for myself, I thought it might be worth sharing some ideas on how to keep the passion alive after the corporate honeymoon phase.

Remember Your Vision

If you don’t believe in the company you are a part of there is a strong chance the rest of my post will be irrelevant. You need to have a vision you can buy into and you need to know that your contributions, whatever their size or impact, are part of something you can be proud of. If you don’t have this as a company, consider creating values for yourself and/or your team. Keep them simple and when you get down at any point think about how that email, report or phone call is contributing to whatever it is you value. If you feel like you don’t matter just try putting more effort into the little things — practice excellence in everything you do and take pride in that. The reality is though that there will come a time where just putting one foot in front of the other isn’t going to cut it. You need to believe in what you are doing and believe in your contributions.

A great book to consider reading on this topic is Start with Why by Simon Sinek. You can watch one of his talks here.

The mantra and vision that helps it all make sense at Shopify.

Practice Gratitude

I am a firm believer that if you find a passionate, hard-working employee in a healthy space they are most likely grateful for the opportunity. At times when I’ve started looking around and finding things wrong: operations, individuals or situations- I’m often in the wrong frame of mind. I’m often not giving people the benefit of the doubt. I’m often making assumptions that aren’t true about people, and I am often being over-confident about my own abilities being ‘better’ than others’ (they’re not).

When I get to this dark place it really helps if I can take stock of my life and the situation, and think about how fortunate I am to have this role. Or how incredible it is that I can work remotely and see the world at the same time. In spite of my deficiencies I’ve been chosen to lead a team. We’re all far from perfect and we’re all trying. The beautiful thing about taking stock of things you are grateful for is that you will slowly realize just how much is going right in your life amidst the always present challenges. Practice making lists of what you are grateful for.

There are tons of great books and blog posts on this topic. Here are a few: This post from Strate Joy on “9 Unusual Ways to Practice Gratitude”.
This amazing book,
Gratitude by Oliver Slacks is a compilation of essays on gratitude from a ton of revered minds in various fields.

Get a Hobby

You may be changing the planet at your company but it’s still your job. To be effective you need to have balance, and things to look forward outside of work. This will help you gain perspective and step away from situations that you may be over-thinking or taking a little too seriously. I realized this year following my two-week holiday to Cambodia and Vietnam just how out of whack I was. In December, before our vacation, I would wake up and open Slack and my wife, who was also working at home, would ask “why are you breathing like that?” I guess I had let my job consume me to such a degree that it actually physically changed the way I lived and breathed in this world.

Coming off a holiday I found it so much easier to take things in stride and have a bit of perspective and new-found appreciation for the day-to-day. Have fun; take breaks, read things unrelated to your work. Have some hobbies and interests that allow you to escape. For my wife and I this is mostly travel (check out our blog here).

Hobby ideas: Find a meetup in your local area. There are literally thousands of people gathering around ANY and EVERY topic you can think of. Travel! go somewhere new and meet people that are different from you. My wife and I bought this NY Times book, 36 Hours Europe which details hundreds of trips that can be done in a weekend. It doesn’t need to be that extravagant, go be a tourist in your own town. Did you know there are hundreds of free walking tours in cities near you?! Here’s a great post suggesting 50 low cost hobbies that will inspire you.

Weekend getaway to Cappadocia, Turkey.

Always be Connecting

Think of a time in your life where you’ve been truly inspired to change. I’m guessing for most of you the catalyst for this change was interaction with people, in real life. There are no substitutes for chance encounters and/or relationships, especially as remote workers where you could literally stay in bed all day or all week.

One project I’ve been a part of at Shopify has been to grow our Meetup communities throughout Europe. Every day my team works with thousands of partners (freelance designers, developers and agencies) that build online stores using Shopify for their clients. There is a lot of putting out fires and nitty gritty Q&A. It ranges from tedious to rewarding and the partners perceive us as everything from support reps to an extension of their businesses. It seems like the lowest times at Shopify have been countered with opportunities to enter a new city and host one of these community events. The attendees are nothing short of inspiring and seeing them interact with each other is my greatest joy to date. Knowing that store owners and partners are helping each other accomplish their goals and dreams is so exciting. I love creating opportunities for people to connect because I know how powerful and meaningful it is for me.

Shopify Istanbul Meetup Nov 2016

For every event I’ve been a part of there are equally meaningful conversations over breakfasts, coffees and lunches that I setup at least once a week. Make time to meet with people; sharing your journey and bringing people into your life will make life richer and who knows when a conversation might have a life-changing influence?

Tips: I know this is a bit overshared but the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a timeless gem. It had a tremendous effect on the way I perceive interpersonal communication. There are some serious gems in there about the way we structure our lives and the way we treat people. If you haven’t read it.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” -Dale Carnegie

Shopify Frankfurt Meetup Nov 2016

Stay in the Moment

I should get this tattooed on my arm. I am the king of over-analyzing everything. If you are like me, we easily get caught up in looking back at the glory days, stuck in the minutia of the current frustration or looking too far ahead plotting our next big thing. We struggle to process change and when we aren’t recognized the way we want to be, we feel undervalued and discouraged. I’ve been there far too often. Try to focus on the day or even hour you find yourself in, and that day or hour can have the potential to become richer, more nuanced, and actually enjoyable.

Tips: Get on top of your week by using an hour on Sunday’s to prep. As stated above don’t lose site of the value of ONE interaction or ONE task. I love using Wunderlist for keeping track of tasks, I try to make a list for today to focus on a few things I want to accomplish. Try to make time for reflecting and remembering the value of the things you are doing. I love using Evernote for brainstorming and reflecting.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Sometimes personal inefficiencies or current turmoils get you stuck on who you were. Once upon a time, I had a bad experience speaking at a Leadership Camp, after which I dreaded public speaking, which was a true shame given how much public speaking I had done comfortably up until that point. I’ve since overcome the fear and done 12+ speaking events each of the past few years. I take them a lot more seriously now than when I’ve had my failure moment. A few weeks ago I gave a less-than inspiring 5 min talk where some of these old feelings reared their heads. It was tempting to dwell on my feelings of failure but I decided that I’m not going to accept any notion that I am who I was 8 years ago. I’ve come too far to let this get to me. I spoke at another event a week ago and it went well. Don’t let Imposter Syndrome or past experiences get the best of you. Live in the moment and focus on the value you can create in your sphere of influence or you will become paralyzed by your past hurts and future worries.

Tip: Here’s a great post and video/s from 12 Kinds of Kindness entitled “Don’t Beat Yourself Up”.

It’s All About the People

There’s probably a million things fighting for your attention right now so I’ll keep this short. Don’t overdo it, keep things simple. Be confident in the decisions you make and treat people well. The whole world can goto shit and everything will always boil down to the relationships you’ve formed. Life has it’s ebbs and flows- focus on what you can do to take steps forward rather than comparing yourself to others. And don’t forget to make the most of today. Be grateful for where you are even it means you’ve realized to make a career change. Most things in life serve a purpose even if it’s to test your ability to endure.

Shopify Meetup Copenhagen Oct 2016

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