This article is the fourth in a series describing the process of a successful transition as you rewrite your life story. If you are in the last third of your life and thinking about ending your current career or selling your successful business, but not sure what you’re going to, this series will guide your thinking and perhaps give you your best next step/s. You will learn how to let go of the past, see the present clearly, chart a course for the future, neutralize whatever is standing in the way, and create a sustainable structure for making your next chapter your best chapter.
You may read the previous three posts HERE if you missed them and would like to start at the beginning.
A Word About Readiness
“If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life.”
– Author Unknown
If you have read the last three posts and you still have lingering doubts about when you will be ready to exit your current work life, you’re not alone. Highly successful people have always been torn by this decision. I won’t go into detail about how to make important life decisions here, (idea for a future post!), but one thing I know for sure, is it’s never a good idea to stay too long at the party… and especially if the reason you are staying is fear of the uncertainty of the future.
In my experience, even my clients who have white-knuckled their way through the transition process have ended up on the other side wondering why in the heck they waited so long!? They have realized that their runway is getting shorter every day and that having the freedom to enjoy the fruits of a lifetime of labor is a priceless gift. They are all now celebrating that they didn’t wait until they felt ready. You can hear three of their stories HERE.
And, yes, it takes courage to define success in a whole new way and faith in your ability to be successful in whatever you decide to do—you’ve done it a million times! The moment you allow yourself to dream and then write it down, you have a goal. And once you define the steps of that goal, you have a plan. And when you start taking even one small action every day toward completing your plan, you will soon feel clear and confident that you can do this!
The Messy Middle
As mentioned in an earlier post, all life transitions have an ending, a transition period, and a new beginning. Endings are caused by a change in our current situation, whether in a relationship, a relocation, a career change, or simply our stage of life. And we are all in transitions of one kind or another all of our lives: kindergarten to first grade, elementary school to middle school, and so on, until we make that final transition out of this life. Some of these changes happen to us and some are of our choosing. Obviously, the ones that are our decision are easier to navigate even if it’s a divorce or leaving our present job. Either way, the next part of a transition can be tough and scary.
The transition period after the old way of being is behind us, is what many have called the “messy middle.” William Bridges in his international bestseller, Transitions, calls this period “the neutral zone.”
The good news is that, if you have completed Chapters 1 and 2, you have mined the past and are in the process of letting it go, and you have given the present an honest assessment. You now have the puzzle pieces you need to begin the process of charting the course. It may seem like there are 1000 pieces and you sure can’t tell where they go yet, but with patience and time, you know you will fit them all together in a beautiful picture.
The key here is not to rush it. If you have just sold a business or are retiring from a long and successful career, one of your steps may be to declare a moratorium on making any big decisions for six months. Every couple who has been through natural childbirth knows that in the transition phase, you blow, blow, blow and DON’T PUSH!!
A New Direction
So here you are with a new direction.
You are beginning to get a picture of your new True North (and it is vague and you may not have a clue how to get there – that’s okay!).
Here’s the process for gaining clarity and confidence:
Here are some suggested reflection questions for your Chapter Three – Charting Your Course:
I know, these are tough questions to answer!! Don’t worry, as you move closer to your desired future it will become more and more in focus and you will adjust as you create each new step. You can now put your destination into your GPS and find the easiest, most direct route there.
In the immortal words of Lao Tsu, “The Journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step.”
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. All it takes is one step to get started. Don’t wait until you’re ready. Don’t live in denial. Have courage and faith and just start. And if you need help, I am here to support and guide you on your journey.
If you would like to have a no pressure conversation with Rebecca please click HERE.
Rebecca Bradley is a Master Certified ICF Coach and founder of Partnership Coaching, Inc. She began coaching individuals and teams to be successful in business over thirty-two years ago.