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Aug 8, 201912:16 PMExit Stage Right

with Martha Sullivan

Blue screen of death in your life? Ways to not be dead in the water

(page 1 of 2)

You’re in a coffee shop, minding your own business, and cranking through some work. You’re in the zone. Thoughts are flowing, virtually racing from your synapses through your fingers and into that digital playground. The energy!

You pause as the program works to catch up with you, waiting for it to respond so you can fly again. Soon “unresponsive” turns into “missing in action.” The program unceremoniously shuts down, taking all your genius with it, without the slightest decency of a warning or a good-bye. Worse yet, the whole blasted computer is locked up.

No need to panic. Your computer has taken these mini vacations before and recovered from it. Let it rest, reboot, and get back at it.

Only when you reboot, you get the blue screen of death’s evil cousin — a nearly black screen with a small box suggesting you reinstall your operating system. No apology or file to recover. You’re done, cold turkey.

You’re clearly now out of your zone. It’s a message from above. It’s time to go do something else, like call your IT department.

What if there is no IT department? What if all the “little” things you take for granted went “poof” just like that little screen? The little things that are actually very big when you stop and think about them, like IT, your resources, intellectual stimulation, work buddies, structured routines, and so on.

A feisty computer is relatively easy to fix or replace, assuming you’ve been diligent about backing up your files. It’s a pain, but the hassle lasts for only a little while. Replacing the other little things can take much longer.

This is not too different from what occurs when we exit one life situation and enter another, such as retirement or exiting your business. Cold turkey isn’t any fun unless it’s on a salad or sandwich. I believe there are seven key steps to take to prepare and minimize the cold-turkey shock of big transitions.

1. Know what is important — your passions, beliefs, interests, and relationships.

You don’t have to do anything about them right now; just identify them. For example, having witnessed the devastating effects of dementia on several people close to me, I personally believe strongly in finding a treatment and cure for Alzheimer’s, keeping people in their own environments for as long as possible, and palliative care. Being of service, in some form, and learning more about best practices in these areas is interesting to me. I’m also a lifelong learner and don’t want to lose that when I no longer need to keep up with the professional technical knowledge I do now.

What about you? What are you thinking about? Write it down.

2. What is your vision for the next chapter of your life?

What goals do you have and want to set for yourself? Regardless of whether the next chapter involves the “R” word or not, thinking through your vision and goals is very important.

Done well, this is an exercise by itself and could be its own blog post. For now, suffice to say that the better job you do defining and clarifying your vision and goals, the easier the other steps will be. More importantly, you’ll be more satisfied with your results and day-to-day living.

3. What activities would be enjoyable?

Are there projects that are important for you to pursue or accomplish? Brainstorm it for yourself and, again, make a list.

For example, aligning my interests and activities could mean being on a board, volunteering at a hospice, reading and blogging on issues of interest, and public speaking/teaching at workshops. Taking classes at UW, Madison College, or other educational resources could also be fun.

(Continued)

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About This Blog

Spending half her career as an advisor to privately-held and family businesses and the other half in CFO/COO roles, Martha Sullivan is a partner and the succession planning practice leader in the business transition strategies group at Honkamp, Krueger & Co., P.C. She and her team have extensive experience assisting business owners achieve their personal, business, and transition goals. “Don’t think of the 'exit' from your business like it’s a four-letter word. Make it your next adventure!”

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