How to Succeed in Life Changing Transitions

Business meetingWe all get into this life changing stage where we open a new chapter of our life – when we start a new job, get into a new role in the company, when we become a father or mother of a family, when we lose a loved one and take an important responsibility in the family.

There is a growing number of readers sending me emails asking advice on transitioning when facing the challenge of a new job or role and this eats up their supply of self-esteem. Surely a lot of people come across this situation and find themselves alone and without anyone to run to.

It is unfortunate that in many families, groups or organizations, there is no ‘hand-holding’ that provides new leaders some support system from their members especially those who have the experience or authority to do so. Many are left to themselves to find out how to weather the storm that they are about to face in this stage in their life.

Transitioning into a new role or job is a serious business that must not be taken for granted if anyone wants to succeed in his job, role or relationships.

What are the basic things to keep in mind in order to handle life changing transitions with confidence and without falling into fear or ending up a failure?

#1 Trust your capabilities

Believing in what you can do helps a lot in keeping reserves of self-confidence to start a life changing transition. Think about what you can do in the face of a new challenge.

Didn’t you get this new job because of your impressive qualifications? Didn’t your parents leave you a heavy responsibility because they know you are the strongest and most capable in the family? Didn’t you see that several others have managed to change and leave their addictive habits and lead inspiring lives now?

If looking through your capabilities is not enough, think about what’s at stake if you give up on this challenge – Lose income for your family and loved ones? Bring about loss of hope for the rest of your family? Lead to a wasteful and inutile life?

Further, there is no better way to think clearly than by seeking advice of someone you trust. Find someone experienced in the same situation and listen to his point of view.

The last option is to admit you cannot do it. It is not wrong to say in all honesty that you cannot do it. But surely doing so without a try or a thought simply is a loser’s option.

#2 Build credibility with early success

This is a strategy that is often taken as political or pretentious. But in real terms, it is necessary to make an impression because it creates your credibility. Not only as a corporate leader but even as a parent you need to work on how people can trust and believe in your capabilities.

The best way to do this is by showing them what you can do. The most practical way to do this is to pick low hanging fruits – that is, find easy to do tasks or projects that will give you credit for a good job done for a starter or early in your stint in the organization or team.

You do not have to wait to resolve a major concern to establish credibility.  Being able to show results on minor issues or initial steps can help accelerate your credibility.

#3 Find allies among influencers

Who’s in charge here? Who has the balls to execute the job? Who gets the job done?

It’s time to ask the ‘who’ question. In order to function well as a leader, you need to find the right people.

Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, one of the first things you need to do to start a project is develop rapport and eventually good working relationship with the people who make it happen – the ‘influencers’.  They can be the big bosses with whom you need to make some connection or the subordinates who have influence over their peers.

You can also check around and ask who does the job well. This can be the route to find out who your influencers are. Possibly, these are the same people because they have the connections.

Either way, getting the act done with the important and influential personalities help achieve your objectives. Finding your allies to make the job done is not about finding a friend or colleague you like but finding the right one who can produce results. There is no better way to achieve goals than by having a supportive and capable team.

In this end, you have to set aside personal motives, preferences and relationships in order to produce an honest-to-goodness work.

#4 Accelerate your learning process

Borrowing words from Michael Watkins’ First 90 Days, ‘accelerating learning’ curve is necessary if you want to make a mark in the arena you are working on. There is no excuse for saying you need time to learn.

For the experienced ones, what is required is more of learning the internal ropes because professionally speaking, one is expected to ‘contribute’. For those new on the task at hand, it is important to learn the basic principles as this helps to get soaked into the job at hand and learn the details as you go along.

Planning your strategy to learn fast will surely reap much fruits.

#5 Negotiate expectations

Once you are on-board, spend time to chat with your superior and discuss expectations plus clarify on specific details. Sometimes the expectations or your key performance indicators (KPIs) are not necessarily going to be very clear. It is alright to have a less formal discussion as long as there is a mutual understanding of the level of details intended.

However, there must be clear timeline at the least at a personal level in order to determine when the KPIs should be reviewed. This will help check if the indicators remain or have changed based on the circumstances.

By clearly setting a system for feedback, it helps to give you visibility of your status in the company and at the same time provides you an image of handling work with professionalism.

The other benefit of having clarity on KPIs is that it keeps you on the safe side of the ‘battle’ in case things blow out of proportion.

Make a Mark in 90 Days

You must be able to carve a name in your first 90 days in your job or role. This is a generally accepted standard in the corporate world where one has to prove himself to the company how he is going to perform for the rest of his tenure.

Sometimes it may sound unfair but there is no way to gauge how one will perform if he will not be given a period of time to make progress, show success and establish a name.

Get yourself up to speed and make things happen. Believe in yourself and take charge!

If you find the article useful, which one tip did you find to be most valuable to you? 


One of my favorite management books, The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins, gives an awesome hack of advice on strategies for new leaders. The things I have shared in this post were partially learned from this book. I have made a review of this book which discusses some of my other takeaway from the book: 90 Days to Prove Yourself in a New Role  

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