6 paths to a post-business future

There’s a lot to think about as you consider your options for a new career. Here are six possible paths you could take.

The best adventures hold a challenge with a reward in the future.

So it is with a successful business owner crossing the threshold of a working career to… whatever is next.

But it can be hard to visualize a future that's completely different from your present.

Here are six questions that an owner can ponder as he or she visualizes the next chapter in life:

  • 1. What past paths are you leaving?

The gravitational pull of history is powerful. The past 20, 30 or 40 years in business have shaped the lens through which owners see the future. And often, the future bears a remarkable resemblance to the past. As businesses become successful, they reinforce what has worked in the past. More and more as time passes, it becomes harder to change. The focus, and the path, can become narrower.

  • 2. What future paths are you moving towards?

Some people like to explore new territory. Others prefer to travel the main highway and not go down branches or side roads, or even uncharted paths. And still others prefer to stay home and remain comfortable knowing how things will probably turn out. A range of options is possible, and the gravity of past success has a powerful influence.

  • 3. Which path to take when coming to a fork in the road?

The inevitable time comes to decide: “What will I do when coming to work is not possible?” Age, declining health, transfer of leadership authority, business disruptions or ownership changes make choices necessary. What are the choices — the paths away from your work of the past — that you will take? And what can you say, with clarity and conviction, are the reasons why you have chosen these paths? Going back, staying at home, continuing to do the usual work is not a satisfying option. Giving up control, which has been a big reason for your past success, might be a big deterrent to making a bold change.

  • 4. What new paths are possibilities?

Experience accumulates over a career. Owners can’t and won’t move far from what they have been doing in the past unless they find something better to do, something that is more attractive and motivating than staying in the comfort of the past. But having fun and pursuing new distractions isn’t a lasting answer. More golf, longer cruises, and another home might be fun, but they are not lasting ways to reach your challenging, rewarding future.

  • 5. Which direction is the path forward?

Boomerang owners lose focus on their next stage of life. If they return to old routines, their abundant energy, skills and knowledge are less likely to be shared or re-invested in the community and other people, including family and friends. This may be the greatest loss. Many owners find new challenges, opportunities and deep satisfaction in what becomes possible after full-time work, especially when giving back to others out of their abundance.

  • 5. Did you know that finding the right transition path can take five years?

Our experience shows that it takes five or more years for an owner to visualize a possible future of doing different work, and then become active in pursuing new goals. Get started. Take a new risk. Explore. Experiment. Learn. Find new passions to guide your next stage in life.

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