What’s your exit strategy?

exit-618506_640Call me strange but I firmly believe that we all need to have an exit strategy for a variety of situations in our lives.

Got a job or run a small business??  You need an exit strategy.  Thinking about retiring? You need an exit strategy. In a relationship that isn’t working and you aren’t willing to fix things – you definitely need an exit strategy.

Ok, so what do I mean by an “exit strategy”?  I mean simply that you need to know what would it take for you to make the decision to move on to something else. And to pre-plan at least some of the things that you will want to or need to do to move on (or worse, extricate yourself) from the situation.

We hear all over the place that many people are unhappy in their work and that many slog on for years, slowly crushing their souls and their potential by putting in time in workplaces that are toxic, or abusive, or boring, or etc.  But does it have to be that way?

What would it to for me to move on from this job I hate? For me to close my business and travel the world? For me to move to that other city?

I’ll give you an example from my own life.  When my son was around seven he expressed to me that he didn’t want me to do event planning anymore.  He didn’t like the long hours I would work, or how I would be away from him for days on end running the events.  Obviously I was (and still am) pretty darn proud of him for being that assertive and expressing himself to me at such a young age.  As I was already very clear that he was (and still is) the most important priority in my life, I realized that I needed an exit strategy from doing event planning.  I couldn’t stop immediately as I was a single mother and the money from that work was paying to support us. So, I kept my contracts and started to identify what I needed to be able to move on.

Some of this ‘getting clarity’ was going on in my subconscious, some of my personal work was talking to my friends, family and mentors about their perspectives on my possibilities, some of it was research, and some of it was goal setting.  Bottom line though, it came down to a list of principles, values, and material requirements that were the bare necessities of what I would need to have in any new situation.  Things like:

  • being available for my son first and foremost
  • work close to my home and my son’s school
  • at least as much salary as I was then making
  • regular hours, or at least very little overtime
  • work in an organization that takes serving people seriously
  • working with like-minded people
  • interesting work that challenged me in some way
  • learning opportunities

It took me almost a year to get everything clear in my head and then to plan and execute a search for a “job” instead of being self employed.   It worked.  I found a job that met my needs and that made it easy to make that decision to move on.  Then, a year into that “job”, I realized I was getting bored, so I started working on my exit strategy….but that’s a story for another day. I’ve used this same strategy now in a variety of aspects of my life, and it means that I can keep doing what I need to do in my current commitments, while also being open to the positive possibilities that exist around me.

There are three parts to this methodology

  1. Identify what you don’t want, what you want instead, and what you absolutely need to do to get started
  2. Make a commitment to yourself that you will keep working towards that exit and keep taking action
  3. Review your actions and adjust your activities and behaviours so that you keep tweaking towards what you want

Obviously you can approach these steps in different ways, but in general, I have found these to be the common requirements of implementing change in your life. I’d also like to add that I love helping people work through this kind of stuff, so if you want someone to help you keep focused and bringing you back to getting clarity, let me know.