Lately, I’ve been reflecting on my career - what have been the influences, the key points of transition, the people? As I transition from a corporate-sustained livelihood to one of entrepreneur (Now where did I plant that money tree!?), I am considering what is important to me and who I am? It’s amazing how everyday life will influence and shape your thoughts and actions. I’d like to use this article to get you to think about how ready you are for the next phase in your life, stimulate some action to plan, or at least think about what factors are important when those choices come. Planning is important so that you’re not making critical decisions under intense pressure – and you’ve thought out your guiding principles and where you have flexibility. I’m going to ask you to bear with me and go out of your comfort zone.

You never know when a life changing event, be it your health, career, or family will hit. Interestingly, if you perform an internet search on planning for life events, many of the results revolve around financial planning. This is absolutely critical, but how does that help you navigate through the change? It will provide stability and reassurance in one dimension, but not the roadmap to get you through in others. Those of you in a large corporation may be able to empathize with the ever-constant restructure, merger or divestiture. In my experience, employees are always on edge, wondering when the next change will come – because you know it’s going to. In my 23 years of corporate life I went through many of these experiences. Not only is it stressful to you, but also to your family and friends as they watch you traverse the molten landscape of corporate uncertainty until the lava solidifies and reforms new structures and you are found on solid ground. One day, and you never know when, you may not have anything underfoot. I want to impart how important it is to take the time when you have some semblance of ‘normalcy’ in your life to reflect on your destination, your Point B (or C, D,E, etc).

Traversing from Point A to Point B, you need to know where Point B is, or at least general area so you can ask for directions (unless you’re me). How do you identify your ‘Point B’? I’ll walk you through a series of questions, but ultimately it is your destination. Use this as a starting point but allow your thinking to follow the ‘roads’ where they may lead you. You need to insist on total honesty with yourself. There is latitude because this most likely won’t be your final, unalterable plan. You will continue to develop and evolve over time. The part that will change minimally, if at all, is your core values, and these should resonate through each point of the process. Be conscious not to say “no” right now, be open to where your brain takes you. Let’s get started brainstorming, list multiple things where possible, not just one. You should be excited that you are owning what is in your control!

  • What do you do that relaxes, energizes and recharges you?
  • How do you want people to remember you – both personally and professionally?
  • How do you define success?
  • Why are you doing this now?
  • What would an ideal day look like?

There are obviously more questions to pose/answer, but these five are a great start. I hope you didn’t put any limits on your thinking. If you did, please go back and try again – there’s plenty of time to whittle down the list, but not now. Also, don’t put any time constraints on your thinking yet, we will do that when we talk about crafting the plan. You should now have an idea of, if there were no constraints, what life could look like. Yes, I know there’s always obligations and, well, laws, but, trust the process and we’ll get through this.

Remember, the goal is to give you direction to where YOU want to go. Your thoughts and plans can be multitiered, through different stages of your life. While you may not be able to control what life throws at you or when, you can control how and when you plan for those events. In the next installment, we’ll figure out what’s important, non-negotiable, and required. What was SPARKED in you as you went through this exercise? What SPARKED me was when my coach asked me if I felt I was a victim because of the things happening around me at work. This awareness thatI obtained through coaching is my motivator to continue to improve myself and learn how to help others more effectively. Essentially, I know that I want to be an executive and leadership coach helping others when I grow up.