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Coach Me To Leave (Part 2)-How to design your 'Exit Strategy' even if you don't think you need one!

Sometimes staying too long in the same place not only strips us of our identity, it hinders our ability to grow and develop. Our path can become overgrown with things that get in the way and we lose sight of where we are going.

In part 1 of ‘Coach Me To Leave’ I shared my story and experience of how staying in one place for too long not only hindered my growth and development but ultimately prevented me from leaving; what I needed was an ‘Exit Strategy’. I gave you my first two steps for creating your own ‘Exit Strategy’ with a strong focus on identifying and developing your personal brand;

Step 1: Who are you?

Step 2: What do you want to be known for?

In part 2 of ‘Coach Me To Leave’ I give you my final two steps for creating your own ‘Exit Strategy’ and the ending to my story (or maybe it was just the beginning).


Step 3: Reframe your thinking & have a clear intent.

You will need to develop a new way of thinking; the way forward will be something you haven’t done before. You will need to reframe (ie change) your mindset and have a clear understanding of where you are heading and what you need to start working on.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates

Do not underestimate the power of a clear intent or purpose for where you are going or what you want to achieve. The brain does not know the difference between fact or fiction. Research in neuroscience has shown the same regions of the brain are activated when we visualise or imagine an outcome or when we perform the actual behaviour.

How do I start doing this?

Whatever we give our attention to is where our energy will flow. I knew I would eventually leave the organisation I had spent the last 8 years with. However, I needed to focus on rebuilding my confidence and gaining new skills. I decided to accept a newly created role in a complex and challenging environment which gave me room to experiment and try new things.

I felt completely overwhelmed starting in the new role and thought everyone will think I’m a fraud once they find out I don’t know what I’m doing. A colleague said to me, ‘No one else knows what they are doing either and you know at least 30% more than them so that makes you the expert in the room’.

I reframed my mindset and thinking to focus on what I wanted to become (ie) to believe I was already a change management specialist, hired for my expert knowledge and skills to make a difference. This new thinking helped me to stay on task, when my mind would wander, or the negative self-talk would start to take over, I would say to myself;

‘what would a change specialist do?’

I felt I achieved much more in the last 2 years at this organisation than I had in the first 8 years. On my last day someone asked me what I was going to do next? I replied I was going to start my own change management consulting business and they replied, ‘Oh I thought you already were an external consultant’.

Step 4: What else do I need?

After working through the first 3 steps you should now be beginning to understand or have more clarity around defining your ‘Exit Strategy’ and thus know where you are going to begin?

You will start to feel more in control; resulting in greater confidence and perspective towards where you are heading and what the future will look like. You are exactly where you need to be at this time to look ahead and ask yourself the following question:

‘What else do I need to do to increase opportunities and insight for myself and create value for others’?

How do I start doing this?

These questions will help you to start thinking outside what you already know and determine what you will need to do differently in the future;

  • What other skills and/or competencies do I need that I don’t have now?

  • What other areas of development do I need to focus on?

  • Who do I need to reconnect with or start to build new relationships with?

  • Who else could help me achieve my ‘Exit Strategy?

  • Where can I go to make new connections outside of my existing networks?

  • Who else could I share my learnings with to help them?

  • What am I curious to learn more about and how can I find out more?

  • Who do I admire or respect and what can I learn from them?

  • What new task or activity can I try this week that I haven’t done before?

It really is all about you now and how and where you are going to decide to spend your focus, attention and energy.

How did I finally leave?

I remember the morning I went in for my annual performance review and ended up telling my manager ‘you know what, it is time for me to go. Don’t extend my contract I’m going to leave’. In an instant I turned what I had been planning and living for 2 years into reality and made a decision to go and it felt unbelievably good!

When everything aligns (ie. your thinking, focus, values and future pathway) you feel empowered, opportunities suddenly present themselves and this positive energy is very contagious.

I now successfully run my own leadership and change coaching business, the growth, development and satisfaction I have gained since doing something I love has been the most rewarding experience.

How are you going to use some of the insights and knowledge you have gained from this blog to share with others and build something new for yourself in 2019?

Please comment and share, I would love to hear from you!

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