The 8 Emotional Stages of Launching
Launching is exciting. At least that’s the story you typically see promoted with offers about launching your big program or offer or website.
The story you don’t hear is the full range of emotions you will experience leading up to a launch.
After all, when you launch an offer or website, you are Investing considerable time, resources, cognitive creative bandwidth, and labor into what is being launched. That investment translates to an implicit or explicit emotional investment in the launch. You have expectations of how people will respond and react – which you hope will be favorable.
This is a feeling that I know all too well – such as when we launched the Tracking Wonder Podcast. It took me four years from first seeding the idea through to committing to it. From the moment of commitment to the actual launch six months later, I experienced a full range of emotions – fortunately, tempered now in part because I have gone through this emotional journey numerous times.
For all Tracking Wonder clients, from business owners to health & wellness authors, corporate clients to eexecutive leaders, we ask our clients to put intellectual and emotional skin in the game.
And we’ve realized that the journey follows the same steps, what we refer to as the 8 Emotional Stages of Launching.
Stage 1: Wide-Eyed Enthusiasm
This is the start of your journey. You’ve got the inklings of the idea – whether for a brand or product or new offer. You’re committed, and the more that you conceive and develop it, the more exciting seem the possibilities.
People will, at last, see your business or endeavor as it merits being seen. People – and many more people – will at last benefit from what you or the business you work for or own have to offer.
This stage might also be where you first start working with a team, which can really start to make the process real for you. One client said to us, “I love telling my husband that I have a team all working for my business and book and on my behalf!”
It’s a beautiful feeling. Enjoy it!
Stage 2: Discovery & Deep Curiosity
At this point, you’re caught up in your idea as you’re conceiving, designing, researching, and learning.
And learning. And learning. And learning.
You’re learning about yourself, your subject of expertise, and possibly your team in the process.
You’re getting clarity about your core beliefs, values, and even how your point of view and stance really does distinguish you from others in your field.
You’re learning more about the value of what you actually do and you’re learning more about the people you ideally love to engage and serve (and who you don’t so much).
Stage 3: Exhilaration & First Low Alarm
You’re starting to see the first drafts of things come through – maybe it’s a mock-up of your logo, or a web page or landing page design with some copy. Or you’re starting to implement behind-the-scenes the pieces of your business’s online course or program for organizations.
Then the first low alarm kicks in. You need to futz with the logo. Tweak the web copy. Figure out some technical details. Rewrite that paragraph 16 times. You’ll be struck by the fact that there is so much work to do, and that you need to experiment like a scientist.
And it’s true, there’s definitely work to do. But you can do it.
It’s around this stage that we might send out a client Launch Kit just to help clients anticipate and plan a few easy ways to plan for launching.
Stage 4: A Pang of Resistance
Now you’re seeing your point of view and beliefs reflected back to you, in a tangible, concrete way. The brand or book, the podcast or scalable offer are taking shape.
You or someone on your team might experience a pang of disbelief or even self-criticism.
You didn’t expect all of that discovery to show up so front and center on your website, or on your offer landing page or in your marketing efforts.
Or if you’re designing your offer behind the scenes, you’re likely thinking that the delivery is not going to be worth your labor.
You will feel doubt – a natural part of the process. Welcome to entrepreneurship and business artistry.
Stage 5: Unbidden Surprises & Fertile Confusion
Of course, while you’re working away on the project, the world isn’t going to stop turning. Someone you care about will get ill. A tree will fall on your roof. Technology will let you down. And this unbidden surprise will inevitably happen just as you’re really getting rolling and about midway through the pre-launch stage.
It’s the last place that you want to feel pulled up short, but you have to remember: it is a pause, not a stop.
This is where you will be psychologically challenged to stay calm under pressure and not over-react.
Stage 6: Launch Approach & The Wonder Zone
The Wonder Zone is that emotional space where exhilaration and fret (sometimes outright anxiety) meet. It’s like standing on the edge of a precipice. Part of you is wowed by the beauty of how high you’ve climbed and by the view ahead, and another part of you panics about the drop below.
Expect all kinds of subtle resistances to appear. You will bring in waaaay too many non-chefs into the kitchen by asking all kinds of friends and peers, “What do you think?” You will weigh all of their warnings and get paralyzed in over-planning and over-perfecting. You will over-edit, over-futz, over-fret.
It’s natural. But if you foresee it, you can recognize the patterns and not get paralyzed. Test things out. Prototype and don’t over-perfect.
Good colleagues or team members will help you recognize the patterns of over-perfection and move through to wise launch.
Stage 7: Self-Admiration (& a Wee Bit of Astonishment!)
You will launch, and it will feel as if you’ve just taken a rocket ride of your own making!
Yes, you might lose a little sleep from being in the Wonder Zone, but when you launch you will feel wildly awake. You did it! This is who you are, what you stand for, what you deliver and how – and why all of it matters now. Wow.
And guess what? People will respond, and they’ll respond in ways you hoped, and in ways you might never have imagined.
Stage 8: Confidence to Show Up & Do the Work
When you really see the heart of who your brand, business, or book is reflected back, you’ll be surprised how that can motivate you and your team to show up day in and day out in ways they or you weren’t before.
You might feel driven because you’re clear now how to show up and engage your people, and you’ll have the confidence to tell people about what you are about because you have integral messaging for what you do and how it helps your people.
And, yes, new rounds of other emotions will continue after launch, and you very well might experience some version of these stages all over again even after 10 years of launching. You’re human, after all, and you care.
You forgot the afterburn. Not all launches (and especially not the first) are successful. After all that build-up the let down can be a serious blow. Then the next step: Getting up again and learning from the previous process. Then repeat over and over until you get it right.