This great podcast and article from HBR got me thinking to how I lived the transition from a senior role in a large bank to my current life as an independent consultant.
The learnings for me have been;
1. Accept its a big thing and expect it to be emotional.
When people join our ranks at Positive Momentum, the most consistent question is “what do you say when someone asks what you do”? With the benefit of over 2 years of experience, I can now say with total conviction that it doesn’t matter what you say. People are only marginally interested in the answer because, out of genuine concern for you, they want to check you are ok or they want to know whether they should consider leaving their job also. When I see people as a consultant, trainer or coach, all people really want to know is can I help them with their problem, not, how do I define myself.
The very fact we worry about this, points to how closely we wrap our own identities around our job titles. When we walk away from all those Manager, Director, MD, CEO etc titles, it is normal to experience a sense of loss. Recognise it for what it is and consider yourself lucky to be experiencing it whilst you still have time to reinvent yourself.
2. Take life a little more lightly
The HBR article refers to playfulness, a bit of a scary word for us bankers. The truth is that of all the many people I meet who have exited or been exited from large organisations, not one of them is sitting in a dark, unfurnished room having lost their wife/husband, kids and home as a result. Many have found a new career that they really love and looking back on what they did previously, wonder why they endured the pain for so long.
When you choose to leave the beaten track, mostly, there are not bears waiting to eat you round the corner. Very often, there is a fabulous view and new sense of freedom. If there isn’t, there is always the option to get back on the beaten track, having learnt some stuff about yourself on the way.
3. Create your possy
You will need to talk through what you are going through with people who know you. Husbands and wives are great but may not have the perspective you need or the understanding of your environment necessary to really get it. My husband has just left an amazing business he founded 30 years ago (https://www.lesinrocks.com). At his leaving do this week (at which everyone rather scarily came with a sticker of his face on them!), several close ex colleagues and professional contacts joined him to mark the moment. These are people who know him both professionally and personally. They know him beyond his title and they know what his unique abilities are which he will leverage into the next chapter of his life. They are people who can support him through his transition both practically & emotionally.