Why you need an exit plan even if you love your job

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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.
Why, right?

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.

~ Seneca

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?

About Farnoosh:

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. 🙂

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22 Responses to “Why you need an exit plan even if you love your job”

  1. […] if you are happy in your current job, it’s important to devise an exit strategy, so you’re prepared to move on when the time comes. […]

  2. […] Why You Need an Exit Plan Even If You Love Your Job by Farnoosh Brock at Escape from Cublicle Nation […]

  3. This is such a great article. I never really have an exit strategy but I think having one is a must especially when you are not that secure with your job. Thanks!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Love this post Farnoosh! Watching a company fail and having no way to save it was a huge reality check for me. It gave me a chance to get my “side hustle” together while others stayed on board with the “hope and pray” method. A reminder that change is always constant yet can be the best thing for growth!

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Stephanie, you’ve been in quite the situation, and you have been tested and passed with flying colors. I know the difference between winners and losers in those situations, Stephanie and it’s obvious you are one of the winners. Congrats and thanks for sharing.

  5. I like this post. It’s funny, though, I cannot relate to NOT having an exit strategy. I like change and have never been able to imagine myself going more than a couple of years without a big lifestyle change, which usually necessitates a career change. I went from waitress to tech writer, tech writer to personal trainer, personal trainer to marketer, marketer to legal recruiter, legal recruiter to communications/business development in animal shelters and veterinary business, animal worker back to tech writer — with book author and coach sprinkled in at various points.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Dear Barbara, hi! So good to hear of your career transitions and what a life you have led. Sounds fascinating! I am finding it’s still a brand new concept to everyone that I come in contact with so your viewpoint is refreshing … What’s next on your plate? :)!

  6. Farnoosh! Funny finding you here! I agree with everything that you say about having an exit strategy. Once I read Your Money or Your Life, I got so clear about exactly how much it takes for me to live. That amount is always available for me whenever I need to exit. Very good to read you as usual 🙂

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Nneka, I believe we have chatted before, right? I remember that name and that face :)! Thanks for the book tip. You are so sweet, thanks Nneka and keep at it.

  7. Carmelo says:

    Great wisdom Farnoosh. I liken it to sports. You can be a great player or a great team and be winning all your games but someone is going to come along and throw you a metaphorical curve!

    The team can’t just rely on “being good” or even great. Another team is going to come along and surprise you. They’ll compete with strategies you didn’t expect (since you didn’t have contingency plans) and will knock you off your podium. Sometimes right when you think you have it made … BAM! A shocker.

    Now, this can happen even with a plan but if you’re truly prepared you can recover quickly and still achieve success. Happy to see how well and quickly you moved forward, Farnoosh.

    Congrats!

    Carmelo

    • Farnoosh says:

      Carmelo, nice to see you again. I really appreciate the sports analogy, especially since I am learning to appreciate sports more – it’s not something that comes naturally 😉 – and yet, I love to see how the power of a great coach, right mindset and preparation makes all the difference in winning or losing. Great stuff, Carmelo and thanks so much. Are you in love with your work? 🙂

      • Carmelo says:

        What a wonderful question to ask, Farnoosh. Yes! Is the short answer. But, I think I had to learn to love life in all its iterations first!

        And that’s what turned things around.

        btw … I’m wishing you tremendous success on your upcoming class. I hope it fills up fast. I can tell that your students will learn a ton! 🙂

        PS. We’ll talk about sports someday, okay? Maybe even do a post?

        • Farnoosh says:

          A sorta yes is better than a resounding no! I see you are well on your way.
          We have a great group of students so far and I am really looking forward to working with them.
          A sports education is in my future then? 🙂 Why not!!

  8. Great post Farnoosh, I had never thought about that. You talk a lot about how the escape plan would be fore when things turn south. Would it be a good idea to have an escape plan in place also for when my side-hustle takes off? I see the wisdom in being prepared with logical decisions instead of emotional ones, so perhaps it could help me know when to pull the trigger and switch to full time.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Deacon (<great name, by the way). Yes, we need a plan BEFORE things turn south because when they do, we are not thinking clearly and certainly not have as much time to take the best option. And YES you need a 'transition' plan from your day job to your side-hustle indeed. In fact, that's covered in the class I am teaching next week. And yes you are right, a lot of it is mindset. Emotions are not so helpful but it is important to have your priorities straight, build a strong foundation, and then based on that and other factors, find the best time to jump ship. Very excited that you are thinking in these terms, Deacon. Let me know if any other questions. Best of luck to you!

  9. faisal says:

    awesome post Farnoosh. Well other than the exit, one needs to first have confidence to move out.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Without a doubt, Faisal, you need to awaken your confidence. That’s why I created my free 21-step confidence building series, and you are welcome to it if you want help shaking that inner confidence awake.

  10. I have a few back up plans that I think I could execute if I needed to. Some of them require moving while others require my side gig to be a bit further along but I have no doubt I could find a way to make enough money to get by should my emergency fund run dry.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Lance, that’s great to hear. The side gig, or side-hustle as Pam calls it, is something that can turn big if you really focus on it. You seem to have the confidence. Now just the action is missing. Best of luck, Lance, and do stay proactive!

  11. Love the emergency exit analogy! When I travel, I don’t expect the plane to crash, but I always know where the nearest exits are. And we’re far more likely to have jobs come crashing down than airplanes.

    • Farnoosh says:

      Hi Kyle, oh dear, no talking of plane crashes please – I travel a lot 😉 but I know what you mean and we have to think about the stuff that we don’t really want to think about. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  12. Farnoosh says:

    Pam, THANK YOU for sharing your space and your readers with me and for accepting my story here on your lovely blog. You are simply a wonderful inspiration and I look forward to engaging with your readers. Thank you, Pam! So honored to be here.

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