Archive for September, 2016

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: Four Tools to Help Yourself Move On to Your Next Chapter

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Four Tools to Help Yourself
Move On to Your Next Chapter

Alignment solution: “Sometimes we have to let go of the good things in life to make room for the great things.”

Recently as I was talking with an executive about succession management in his industry, the conversation turned to his own situation. Although he had retired several years earlier, he chose to return to the profession he loves because he felt (and still feels) he has important contributions to make. Now, however, he is faced with an unwelcome reality: physical ailments are constraining his ability to continue leading his department well.

Can you relate to this executive’s dilemma? Perhaps the physiological stress of the job is more than you or someone you know are willing to tolerate, or your family has become a higher priority, or the job just isn’t fun anymore. Even though your passion for your profession or cause remains, your heart just isn’t in your job. It’s time to move on.

Except you can’t bring yourself to do it.

Instead, you convince yourself that you are indispensable, or that no one can run the department as well as you, or the same way that you do. So you double down, determined to “make it work.”

How’s that tactic working for you? How’s it working for your family, your employees, and your customers?

Most human beings find change scary, so resisting it comes naturally to us. Especially when you’ve devoted your entire life to your career, you can’t imagine doing something different. Even when you know you’re no longer the best person for your current job, and in fact your employees and/or your organization may be suffering as a result, you resist moving on.

If this situation describes you, or someone you know, here are four tools that can help you move on to your next chapter.

Tool #1: Adjust your mindset
About ten years ago, I debated whether or not to take early retirement from my tenured university position. When I realized that the differences between my values and those of my department chair were irreconcilable, I knew that I couldn’t stay there. However, I loved teaching and didn’t want to move to take a job at another university. A colleague offered some advice that resonated deeply with me: “Sometimes we have to let go of the good things in life to make room for the great things.” Embracing that mindset enabled me to cut the ties to a secure academic career and venture into the unknown and unpredictable world of solo consulting. Since that time I’ve used that advice to help me upgrade from other “good” situations to “great” ones – even when I didn’t know at the time what they might be. I haven’t looked back yet.

Tool #2: Ask and answer truthfully this question: “Am I the only person in the world who can do this job?”
A truthful answer will help you put your situation in context. If the honest answer is “Yes,” then perhaps you should stay a while longer. However, if the answer is “No,” then it’s time to make space for the greatness that awaits you.

Tool #3: Consider the impact of your choice on your employees, colleagues, and customers
Ask yourself whether you are hanging on despite your misgivings for the sake of others or for your own sake. Is staying where you are preventing your employees from using their talents to the fullest, or from providing your customers the best service possible?

Tool #4: Identify alternative ways you can honor your passion or cause  
There is a multitude of ways that experienced professionals can have an impact on their profession or cause. Mentoring, consulting, recruiting, teaching, and starting or joining a related business or non-profit are a few of the options that come to mind. Your experience, talent, and wisdom ARE needed. Do yourself – and everyone else – a favor: find one or more alternatives that would honor your passion and work well for you.

If you’d like to learn more about how to prepare for your next chapter – whether it’s retirement, another organization, another role, or another career – take a look at our article What’s Your Personal Succession Planning Process? To find other articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at and my blog at

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