Who says you need an imminent departure to craft an exit strategy? Trust me, the wisest career move you could make is to map out your exit now while you're perfectly happy where you are. I'm going to convince you why this strategy is the key to unlocking clarity in your career, reducing stress, and priming you for success in any future career moves. But remember, this is no solo endeavor. I'm going to unfold why an effective exit strategy is a collaborative process with your management, steering both parties toward a win-win situation.
I'm not just going to tell you why an exit strategy is vital, I'm going to walk you through it step by step. With insights drawn from my own career transitions, I'm going to break down five crucial elements you need to consider in your exit plan: ensuring a seamless handover, nurturing relationships, reviewing your financial status, honoring your long-term career goals, and, importantly, safeguarding your emotional well-being. Whether you're planning to leave or not, these strategies will position you to transition gracefully. So tune in as I share my personal stories and practical tips, and guide you to create an exit strategy that not only safeguards your career but also preps you for future success.
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Hey there, before we get started, if you are ready to find your dream job, we know there is nothing worse than feeling overwhelmed about what you think you should be doing. It's why I created a new checklist for you called the mid-career job seekers checklist. This checklist will help you isolate all the things you need to be doing and get you focused on finding that job you'll love. We can get this checklist for free on my website at johnnarrellcom. You can also check the show notes or the featured section on my LinkedIn profile. But if you are ready to start building your mid-career GPS, let me help you get started. Download my free checklist and, strategically, let's start figuring out whatever is next for you and your career. In the last episode I talked to Smashing the Plateaus, david Shreiner-Kahn, who spoke to us about the importance of having a plan B in your career. It's episode 190, if you haven't had a chance to listen to it. I want to take that conversation further today and talk to you about building your exit strategy. It's that thing you carefully plan or should be carefully planning as you leave your current job to go to the next. We're going to save all that drama for movies and TV. You're going to exit professionally and intentionally. In this episode, I'm going to share with you five reasons why it is essential to have an exit strategy, even if you love your job, and why it can help you have greater career clarity, reduce some anxiety and set you up for success in your next career move. Let's get started. Hello, my friends, this is episode 191 of the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. I'm your host, john Nerrell. I help mid-career professionals who feel stuck, undervalued and underutilized show up to find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. Now, exit strategies are something I strongly advocate for, especially as you are navigating a career transition, to do it very intentionally and I want to offer you at the onset of this episode is that your exit strategy is going to depend on a variety of circumstances that are directly related to you. It is why it is your exit strategy. For example, my mid-career moment was way back in 2010, when I was preparing to leave my teaching and educational administrative role in a very small district in Northern New Jersey and move to take an administrative role managing a team of instructional coaches in Washington DC. My exit strategy was actually over a year in the making, but it wasn't until I had gotten the job offer and knew that I would be finishing out my teaching contract that I didn't announce and really start talking about my exit strategy. That exit strategy was five months. I did everything I could to ensure that there was a smooth transition of my responsibilities and work duties. But keep in mind, your exit strategy, in the most ideal situation, is a partnership between you and your management. To make that exit strategy happen, there were conversations, there were training opportunities to bring somebody in or elevate somebody up that would oversee my job duties and responsibilities. What was interesting about this particular situation for me was that I had a clause in my teaching contract because I was tenured and had been in the district more than seven years that I could take a year's leave and if that job didn't work out, I could come back. It was one of the biggest caveats I found in our contractual agreement, but it was one of those things I was happy to exercise because I had a fail-safe If my job didn't work out, I could move back to New Jersey and go back to my old job. Not everybody has that luxury. I get it, but I also know that had I not been very intentional about building this exit strategy and working with management to make that happen. If I needed to come back, it wouldn't have been as easy, so I'm really glad I put all those things in place. Anytime you make a career transition, you are building that exit strategy. There was a job a couple of jobs after I had left my teaching position where, admittedly, I didn't really build an exit strategy. I was so focused on getting out of that job for a variety of circumstances and if you've ever worked in what may be described as a toxic work environment or a hostile work environment, I'm sure you can relate in the sense that you just wanna get out right. So for me, part of my reason in that job was I was under the belief that there was going to be a massive reorg and I didn't want to be part of any jobs that were going to be cut. So when I left, I left rather quickly and in states where you are an at-will employee, keep in mind that at-will works both ways. So while we typically talk about two weeks notice, the employer doesn't have to give you two weeks notice if they're gonna let you go. How many times have we seen it happen to others or maybe, unfortunately, to yourself, where you're called into a meeting and you're told your services are no longer needed. So in this situation, I didn't really build an exit strategy and I'll also tell you I only gave one week's notice. So, yeah, there are some things in my career path that, if I looked back, I would have done a little bit differently. But I will tell you that really was the best decision at the time and I'm glad that I did it. The last exit strategy that I ever built for myself was when I left my last position as a training and staffing director to start my coaching practice full time. There were so many things that I was doing after work to build my coaching practice, build my business, make sure that everything was in line that I waited for the right time to make that announcement because I knew when I did there was no turning back in that position, that I was gonna go, and I was going confidently and confidently to build this coaching practice which, by the way, I'm coming up on my gosh six year anniversary of when I left my job. It's craziness in some ways. Actually, it'll be seven come January, but I'm gonna walk you through these five particular steps to help you build this exit strategy and walk you through this through the lens of what I did with my last job. So the first thing is you wanna make sure in your exit strategy, you are ensuring a smooth transition of responsibilities. An exit strategy will allow you to ensure that all of your responsibilities are handed over efficiently. Basically, you wanna minimize as many disruptions as possible for your team, clients and projects. So what's the handoff look like? Who is going to take over your day to day? This is where your conversation with your management and leadership is a vital, because you are going to partner with them. Now, in this exit strategy, I gave four weeks notice, and it was four weeks because this is what me and management agreed upon would be the best move. So in those four weeks, I was looking at making sure all of my projects were tightened up. I knew who was gonna be getting what. What was gonna be taken over. Again, you do as much as you can on your own, but ultimately, at that point, what happens to your job and what happens to your projects really is no longer your decision. It is going to be management's decision and I truly believe it is in your best interest to work and partner with them to make this transition as smooth as possible. The second tip here is to preserve relationships. I wanna offer you that when you think about how you show up and protect and promote your brand, it is always in your best interest to leave a job gracefully. Do it in a way that, when you look back on it, you are proud of how you exited. Like I said in the intro, let's save all the drama for TVs and movies. We can fantasize about doing those kind of things, but you never wanna do anything that is going to damage or harm your professional brand or reputation. Part of that reason is you never know where a former colleague or leader may be valuable to you, be it as a future reference, a networking opportunity or even a potential collaboration down the road. A well-executed exit strategy will always always leave a positive impression and demonstrate professionalism. The third thing is you have to take a look at your finances. This was especially important for me as I was starting my own business, because there was an understandable risk that I was not going to be able to replicate my income in the first year. We had conversations at home. We had to take a look at what benefits were going to look like. So I'm in a situation where I was very fortunate to hop on my husband's benefit package where he works. But thinking about all these financial considerations, here are some other things you do not wanna leave on the table. Are you vested or are you close to being vested? And is it worth it to you to stick out that time to be fully vested before you exit? Are you being offered a severance package, let's say, if you are being rift or let go? Do you have unused vacation days? And if so, are you going to lose them or are you being paid out for them? And then, what do any of your retirement investments look like? Is it possible for you to maintain them or even roll them over into another plan? Failing to address these aspects can lead to a lot of anxiety and worry, especially when it comes to money. Look, we know money is important. Money is something, especially now, as we look at higher mortgage rates and inflation and we go to the grocery store and we know we're spending more. Making sure that you are comfortable financially is vital in building your exit strategy, and it goes without saying. But if you are in a relationship, you are partnered, married, and you are combining finances even into your general household. Make sure you have an honest and intentional conversation with your spouse or partner about what finances are going to look like as you build this exit strategy. The fourth thing and another piece which is vital in building your mid-career GPS is thinking about your career goals. Your exit strategy should always align with your long-term career goals. We talk so much on this podcast about what's next for you and your career and finding that job you're going to love. That exit strategy is your path to bridging where you are now to where you wanna be. It might involve transitioning into a new role, a new industry, a different company or even, in my case, with my last pivot, which was to go ahead and start your own business. Never underestimate the power of careful planning. It's going to ensure that when you exit or depart from your current job, you are doing it in a way that is going to foster your future career growth. You're doing it with greater intention rather than just making a hasty decision. I was sharing with somebody recently that when I exited from my last position, there were times and I will share with you that there were times over that last year that I drove home from work and I wasn't sure I was going back into the office the next day. I thought let me just quit and get it over with. But I am not someone who acts irrationally. I am a planner, I am a strategist. As much as I fantasize those thoughts on the way home, it was more important for me to recognize that I needed to do this with greater intention and find ways to make the situation more manageable. When you're in a space where you're trying to figure out what's next, you may be entertaining a lot of different options. That's healthy. That's what we do in the preparation phase of building your mid-career GPS is that we're trying to figure out what that move is going to be. Until you know what that move is, I want to offer you to slow down, get clear about what it is you want to do and start building those steps to what's going to be next. Make an intentional decision rather than a hasty decision when it comes to your career goals. The last thing I want you to consider when building your exit strategy is your emotional well-being. Your mental health is important and leaving a job is an emotional experience. Your exit strategy is going to help you make that transition more effectively. It's going to allow you to process your feelings, set realistic expectations and focus on your personal growth and well-being as you move to whatever is next for your career. When I work with my clients one-on-one, there is a big component of our coaching that focuses on building that exit strategy and doing it in a way that feels most comfortable for them. It's not that it's not going to be scary, because anytime we do something different it can be a little scary, but we want to make sure that all of the bases are covered, all the boxes are checked. Do that in a way that allows you to show up in the most confident and confident manner as you build towards what's next and continually keep in mind and protect your emotional well-being and mental health. To recap, I talked about five specific strategies for helping you build your exit strategy. The first was making sure there's a smooth transition. The second was preserving relationships. The third was taking a look at your finances. The fourth was acknowledging and honoring your long-term career goals. The fifth was your emotional well-being and mental health. Let me ask you, after listening to this episode, how do you start building your exit strategy? Even if you like your job right now and have no intention of leaving. I want to offer you that you should still be considering what's going to be next and what that exit strategy may look like. As David shared in the last episode, we always need to have a plan B. What's your plan B? Whatever it is, how are you building that exit strategy? Your exit strategy is yours until you have made it known that you're going to be leaving your job. When you have that conversation with management, things change, however much notice you give them. Make sure that, prior to making that announcement, you have carefully thought about your next moves and are ready to do so with greater intention and professionalism. After all, it is about how you're going to show up, never burn a bridge and always protect your brand and your reputation. Okay, my friends, that is it for today's episode. If you missed the beginning, I just want to remind you I've got a brand new guide checklist for you. It is called the Mid-Career Jobseekers Checklist. Check out my website at johnnarrellcom. Check out the resources tab for other information as well. I will see you on Thursday with another episode, but until then, remember this we build our Mid-Career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how we show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple podcasts. Visit johnnarrellcom for more information about how I can help you build your Mid-Career GPS or how I can help you and your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at John Narrell Coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters.