What’s Your Exit Strategy? What’s Your Stay Strategy?

Whether you own your own company or work for someone else, it’s critical that you have an exit strategy.  Unless you plan to work until you die, you need to start taking actions NOW for how you’re going to gracefully step out and how you’ll spend your time once you do.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a number of conversations with executives, professionals and business owners (primarily women) who have dreams of life beyond their current circumstances.

They envision being well compensated in a job or business they love, having the respect and credibility from peers, bosses or clients they believe they deserve and having the time and resources to pursue their dreams.

They all, however, were dealing or putting up with circumstances that were literally suffocating their souls, extinguishing their dreams and leaving them feeling exhausted, sad or even worried about their future.

The one thing they each were lacking was – can you guess?…

CONFIDENCE!

At some level, they didn’t feel fully equipped to have their dream life NOW.  They felt at the effect of others around them who seemed to hold all of the power.

From my perspective, it seemed there were three key ingredients that, if implemented, would make all the difference in the world.

1. Self-definition
Because it felt to them that others were more powerful than they, that they were unable to truly define, and stand for, who they are and what is important to them.

They felt stuck in the roles they had been given to play and looked longingly toward the future when they would finally be happier.

My advice to them (or you if you find yourself in a similar situation): be true to yourself.  This is your life and it won’t last forever.  Know what makes you happy and what doesn’t. Don’t buy solely into other people’s dreams and expectations that are counter to who you know yourself to be.

2. Self-determination
Once you’re clear about where you stand, it will be easier to let others know who you are and what you need.  Without that, you’ll continue to feel frustrated, hopeless, resigned, depressed and afraid.

My advice to them and you: don’t wait.  Be clear and public about your needs and goals NOW. Make requests.  Make demands when necessary.  Make life go the way YOU want – now.

3. Focused action toward their goals
It’s one thing to dream big, it’s quite another to make those dreams a reality.  When you’ve defined yourself and your direction, the path before you will become clear.

It still requires you to take action.  Seeing the path and having it in front of you is not the same as walking on the path.  Rita Mae Brown defined insanity as “Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.”

Action is required. Action builds confidence.  Action gets results.

My advice to them and you: Take action.  Identify one thing you can do like making a request, taking a class, telling someone “No”, researching your passion or getting help to make it happen.  No one can or should try to do any worthy effort alone. And living a big life is definitely a worthy effort.

So what does this have to do with an exit or stay strategy? Start working on your exit strategy now.  Don’t wait until ‘the time has come’.  You’ll be scrambling then.  And it may come sooner than you expect.  Plan now. Act now.

Make sure you have a stay strategy that isn’t just going along for the ride.  Use your self-definition and self-deterimination to make your current life/career/business more to your liking now.  Again, act now.

Your life is in your hands.  Make sure you’re living YOUR life, not someone else’s.

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