Thursday, June 10, 2010

TRANSITION - The Next Phase of your Life

Business owners – and other executives – often have a difficult time retiring or making the transition out of their current role into the next phase of their life. They ‘keep on doing what they’re doing’ because they get great satisfaction from their work – and, unfortunately, because they have no idea what else they what they could do.

Often, their financial advisors have helped them prepare, financially, but they are not ready, emotionally, to take that next step into the next phase of their life.

Daniel Pink in his new book “Drive” introduces some fascinating ideas for managers who want to be better leaders and developers of their staff. Looking deeper, his ideas provide clues for business leaders who are contemplating their personal work-life transitions. Here, briefly, are Pink’s keys to motivation:

  • Autonomy – “Autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it), team (who they do it with), and technology (how they do it).
  • Mastery – Becoming better at something that matters. “Challenges we face are uniquely matched to our abilities.”
  • Purpose – Working on ‘a cause greater and more enduring than ourselves.’

This approach, rather than the ‘carrot and stick’ method, is what brings out the best in people and produces better results, according to Pink.

I believe that these were what business owners searched for when they made the decision to own a business. They may not have been aware but, as some subconscious level, they were looking for a work situation that would give then independence to follow their passion, build on their strengths and have control over what they do – to have autonomy, mastery and purpose in their life. Income potential was important, too. They may have expected to make more money but many business owners made a decision that to ‘go out on their own,’ even if working somewhere else would pay more.

But there is a downside to their thinking. Business leaders stay when its time to move on. For the same reasons they decided to start, they can’t let go. They hold on for too long – when it’s time to step aside and let new people lead – younger people with more energy, a willing to take risks and use fresh approaches to match new challenges. The company they created begins to decline, eroding their investment when they need to be ‘harvesting’ it to build their retirement nest egg.

The trouble with retirement is that it is viewed as an end – when a person stops doing something that gave meaning to life, and sees doing ‘nothing’ for the next 20 or more years. That’s not something to look forward to so they ‘stand pat.’

I prefer a process I call ‘Transition.’ Transition involves planning ahead – discovering what about life (in work and elsewhere) gives great satisfaction and build those factors into a new lifestyle – one they can look forward with optimism and enthusiasm.

What’s the key to making a successful transition? Finding something new that offers you fulfillment and a feeling of satisfaction. Daniel Pink’s three motivational factors: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose are a good starting point.

Transition begins with choosing your new life purpose – and building it into the next phase of your life. The key questions is: What will you do that merges your passions, your strengths and an opportunity to serve to live a life that is meaningful and satisfying to you?

Maybe it’s an unfulfilled dream or a hobby. Maybe it’s for money – maybe it’s not. Maybe its full time – maybe its something that you do at a slower pace that matches your energy level while giving you time for other pursuits; exercise, reading, gardening, family, travel, etc.

Purpose is not just a hollow kind of ‘doing nothing.’ Purpose is something that is distinctly ‘you.’ Choosing it will take time. It’s important to start planning long before you leave your current work. I have worked with clients who took several months to sort things out and make a personal, lasting decision that best suited them.

Autonomy and Mastery evolve out of a clear purpose. Your purpose guides your decisions about what you will do, how you will work, and who you will work with. Over time, you will build on your unique skills to develop the mastery you need to achieve your chosen purpose.

What is there about your current life that excites you, that you enjoy and can build on to create the next phase of your life? How will you create your future doing something that gives you satisfaction and enables you to build a special combination of personal Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose?
What is your personal transition plan? I help business owners develop their work/life transitions into the next phase of their lives. I can help you. Contact me to set up a complimentary session to explore your options. – 716 434 8688

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