I am so, so at the beach right now. So please welcome a rare phenomenon on Life [Comma] Etc: a guest post! From Kelly R. at A Lovely Life Indeed.
Kelly is a wife, teacher, foodie, and traveler. She lives in the Boston area and also, part time in a tiny coastal village in the Northwest corner of Galicia, Spain.
Kelly writes about love, marriage, and travel, both in Europe and around New England, and inspirational musings on life and wellness.
Some of us love what we do for a living, and I’m one of them.
But some of us have other plans…something planned for when we’re done doing what we love. And I’m one of those, too.
Others are satisfied with what they do, or tolerate what they do, but still are haunted by what-ifs. That must be torture.
And still worse, there are some who dislike or feel trapped by finances, other obligations, or even self doubt in the thought that they could do better.
Maya Angelou is right…when you know better, you do better. Sometimes, knowing better is simply knowing that you have options. When you know what your options are, then you can create a strategy. You enable yourself to achieve more.
Here are some things to think about to help you build a viable exit strategy for your life as you know it now:
1. Define it. What do you really want in the long term?
The first step is to establish what you want in the long term. What is your bottom line: A new job? A side business? A new business? A hobby you want to explore full-time? A sabbatical to travel or other personal or professional development?
Once you have identified the long-term goal, you need to define the steps that you would take to achieve it.
If you’re transitioning from hobby to career, will you start part time? On weekends? Or are you all in, resigning your current job in x number days and going for it?
Create a vision for what you want and what that looks like. Be as specific as you can. The better defined it is, the more you can assess your needs and the timing of bringing the dream to fruition.
2. Plan, plan, and plan again. (Then one more time.)
Next, you’ll need to make an assessment of where you are versus where you want to go. Make an inventory of your skill set that includes your skills, weaknesses, and super powers. Do an old-fashioned t-chart and go visual. Be honest and realistic about how your assets match up against your debits.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
What skills used in your current career apply to your new one?
What other skills would transfer and enhance your new idea?
With what will you need help? Will you need additional training?
What could go wrong? Then what?
Plan like it is your job…because it is.
3. Enlist your friends and family.
While it would be nice to think that everyone in your life is supportive of you, sometimes that’s simply not the case. When you get advice or comments about your decision, take the highs and the lows with a grain of salt. Everyone has a bias, for better or worse. Consider how that bias works for or against your efforts.
Seek out friends and family members (and LinkedIn connections) who can mentor you. Find someone who is successful in the field you want to be in and use online resources like interviews and blot posts to figure out how he or she got there.
4. Plan an exit strategy for your exit strategy.
We all know that things go wrong. Sometimes, your plan works and other times it fails. Great thinkers have had flops. And, long-term travel may end. Then what?
It’s important to have an exit strategy for your exit strategy — A Plan C for your Plan B. So, what’s your plan for re-entering the workforce or re-establishing income. Do you need to save first, for a just-in-case cushion?
Anticipating a worst-case scenario will be a relief when the time comes that you need it, but also while you’re living your dream. Life doesn’t stop. You rebuild. Be prepared.
5. If now is not the time, then what?
Even after you have done all of the work, if you have decided that now is just not the time, what do you do? How do you go backwards?
Look at your vision. What is the passion behind the vision? Integrate it into your life where you can. Find joy in that piece of you that was worth risking it all. Just do it on a smaller scale. For now.
Want to leave it all to go to culinary school? For now, feed your friends and family and experiment with technique and different cuisines. There are some fabulous new cookbooks out there…and your family and friends will love it!
Want to travel the world? Start as a tourist in your own backyard.
Want to transition to a career as a designer? Volunteer your services on small projects and build a portfolio?
Want to write full time? Start blogging or submitting your stories to blogs around the web and papers in your home town. Build a portfolio and readership.
In the meantime, get the training you need. Save your money where you can. And do what brings you joy.