I am the first to admit that not everyone is cut out to own a business. It can be challenging, stressful and unpredictable at times. If you do not have a high tolerance for uncertainty and risk, it may not be the best career move.
But even if you do not want to consider full-time self-employment, you do want to be able to take care of yourself in case you get unexpectedly laid off.
In this guest post, my friend Farnoosh Brock, who jumped out of her own cubicle not too long ago, shares her perspective on the importance of an exit plan. You may never need to employ it, but it is better to be prepared than left financially vulnerable if your job goes away.
Why You Need an Exit Plan Even If You Love Your Job
You need to have an exit plan out of a job. Any job. Even one that you love. Otherwise, you would be taking a great risk.
Think of it As an Emergency. Really.
You know how in life, you never want to think of what to do in case of an emergency. We naturally want to avoid the emergency itself at all costs. But we also want to avoid preparing for it and thinking through what we need to do in case it strikes. Preparing for an emergency is the difference between surviving it or taking a serious risk with your safety and well-being.
You see, if you are caught up unprepared in an emergency, you follow the only thing at your disposal: your emotional reaction to the situation and that’s the last source of clear thinking or smart decisions. Your panic-stricken state is not able to pull you out of an emergency alone. Let forethought and preparation save the day instead!
I know, thinking and preparing for an emergency is not sexy, cool, or fun. So we avoid it and hope for the best!
I say don’t do that, neither with emergencies nor with your job! Hopefully the former is pretty compelling now so let us talk about the latter.
First of all, what defines an exit plan out of a job?
Good question. I show you the why and how in these exit planning short videos.
An exit plan is a well-thought out smart roadmap that enables you to transition from your current job/career to the next best professional place for you.
This next place may be a different role at the same company, a job in a different company or in a new industry altogether. It could be starting a side-hustle while staying at the same job or going solo and embracing self-employment.
Do you have an exit plan out of your job? Do you have some idea what you might do if – or rather, when – this current job comes to an end? Does the next step on your path get you closer to your goals and dream career?
The Boom, Bust and the Corporate Conditioning
These are the questions that I wish someone had asked me as I was going through the ups and downs (mainly downs) of my own corporate career at the Fortune 100 where I spent nearly 12 years working!
But nobody talked about exit strategies or future plans back in 1999 when I joined this company; everything was phenomenal then. The stock was going through the roof. There was more work and learning and money coming in than my co-workers and I could keep up with. You would have had to be crazy to think about leaving at a time like that.
There was nothing but abundance and boom.
Until 2001 when the stock market crashed, the Dot.com bubble collapsed, and our company did its first massive layoffs.
Still, those of us who survived 2001 did not learn our lesson of always having an exit plan.
Over the years, the conditions of our jobs worsened, but our reaction to it was dismal: We griped, and yet we did nothing about it. We complained and yet we stayed on with the same job. We became miserable and bitter and yet we would not envision ourselves beyond that workplace.
It was the type of social conditioning that I only recognized after I woke up from what I call my ‘corporate numbness’. Then I saw the nearly irreversible impact of my own shortsighted decisions and let me tell you, I had to hustle like mad to turn this ship around and get myself back on the right track.
Why You Must Have an Exit Plan out of a Happy Job
If I had been planning my exit during the happier times at that job, I would have been in much better shape!
An exit plan is not only for desperate situations at your job. I implore you to have an exit plan even if you love your job, your gig, your boss, your workplace and each and every single one of your co-workers.
Remembering this helps: You do not control any of the dials on your workplace but you can control every single one on your career roadmap!
The exit plan does not mean you plan on leaving. It means you are aware of all your options if the conditions change. It means you are ahead of the curve, you own the road to your career, and you are the master of your destiny.
You may not use your exit plan for a year, or you may need to pull it out next month! Either way, it’s imperative you have one.
Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.
You will look very ‘lucky’ to the eyes of the world if you have an exit plan at all times, all because you’ve been prepared!
My exit plan took a year of planning, believing, and un-conditioning but in the end, it worked out well. I resigned at the top of my career in May 2011 and started making a profit six months into my business.
And for the first time in my life, the money was secondary to everything else: I became wholesome again as a person, and not to sound sappy but I found my place in this world, all because I am finally doing work that I love and find meaningful.
Your exit plan can pave the way to work that you can love and find meaningful and profitable. It’s a journey and those who are always prepared travel the best roads.
So will you prepare yourself for the unexpected with a smart exit plan?
Farnoosh left a 12-year career at a Fortune 100 company to start her own company, Prolific Living Inc. and follow her passions. She now teaches unhappy professionals how to manage their “mid-career crisis” with a step-by-step plan out of a bad job into work they can love and find profitable. Check out the Smart Exit Blueprint course (open for August registration) or the FREE educational videos for some immediate career tips!
Thanks for sharing your ideas with us Farnoosh! If anyone needs help with your exit plan, check out her course. I know she will take excellent care of you.