Making a big change in your life is exciting but also risky and uncertain. Whether you are making the leap to entrepreneurship, starting a new arm of business, or moving into a new role, the stakes can feel high—and the stats support that.
Thirty percent of small businesses fail in the first two years, and 50% by year five. Ninety percent of startups eventually fail. Sixty percent of executives fail within the first two years of moving to a new role.
While marketplace or economic conditions may affect these failure rates, many people overestimate certain risks and underestimate others. In our work as executive coaches to organizational leaders and startups, we have found that one of the biggest barriers to success is often mental.
Entrepreneurs and executives alike can reduce these risks by preparing both mentally and emotionally. That means shifting your mindset to make a move with confidence, shrink the gap between expectations and reality, and increase the odds of success.
From task-focused to meaning-focused
When you feel a deeper sense of meaning around your work, it becomes possible to show up every day with more energy around what you need to accomplish—even if you still need to work on tasks you would rather not do. Tapping into this sense of meaning makes it possible for work to not feel as much like work, and for you to get into “the zone” or a flow state.
The Japanese concept of Ikigai can help access deeper motivations that provide that sense of meaning and fulfillment. Central to this concept are four questions: What do you love? What are you good at? What can you be paid for? What does the world need? The intersection of those four questions is the point at which you can most be yourself in your work, and feel fulfilled knowing others value what you do.
It can be tempting to create an idealized version of what life will look like after a change. Take care not to create a fantasy version of fulfillment based on imaginary external conditions. You must align your internal motivations with the external reality.
In addition to doing your internal homework to uncover your own motivations for change and conditions for success, do your external homework as well. Talk to others who have done what it is that you want to do, or consider running experiments to put yourself in situations that mimic the new role. This helps you craft a vision that is as realistic as possible.
From lack to leverage
Confidence is often at a peak at the beginning, and the doubts creep in when the excitement wears off. To maintain motivation and confidence in the face of the unknown, successful individuals remind themselves of their capabilities and accomplishments and use it as a foundation to tackle the new opportunity before them.
Make note of the work that has been most rewarding in the past. What projects are you most proud of? Why? How did you make them a success? What skills did you lean on? Why was it important? Who was around you? What did you learn? What was the impact? Who else was impacted? What became possible?
Write these examples down—if possible, before you make the move. Not only do these stories provide valuable insight into how you might need to structure your transition, but you need them readily accessible on those doubt-filled days when it’s harder to remember what worked well.
From me to we
Many of us want to solve problems by ourselves, or we have become accustomed to our current support network. Working alone can limit creativity, ideas, and opportunity for growth. A good support network allows you to gather support and resources, helps you overcome obstacles, and provides access to different networks, skills, and perspectives, which will improve your chances of success.