We must leave our mark on life while we have it in our power. – Isak Dinesen
I have heard the question, “What is your exit strategy?” often used in the business world. This expression typically refers to investors looking at an opportunity and then considering how they would cash-in on the investment once they have made the expected profit or how they would retreat, and stop the financial bleeding, if the investment becomes a bust.
There’s no doubt exit strategies are well thought-out with a great deal of rigor in the business community because of the risks associated with making an investment, but what about in our personal lives? Imagine how we would live the rest of our lives if we put the same effort into planning our own exit strategies.
There will come a day when we will exit this world and enter the next. A plan for a successful transition might prove helpful.
The other evening after dinner, Mary Beth and I were doing our usual daily check-in. I was bouncing future article ideas off of her when she asked me what I thought people want most from their lives.
In my opinion, I told my wife, people want to finish strong in life – I want to finish strong in my life. We can be held back by the garbage from our past and we can surrender to the temptation to go through the motions for as long as possible.
But, I really don’t think that’s what most of us want. We want to look at our lives, and the investments we made in our lives as profitable; as a success – as a victory.
We want our exit strategy to be one we can be proud of as we continue living in eternity. We want the generations that follow in our families to speak of us with love and admiration along with some humorous stories sprinkled in to remind everyone of our humanness and frailty. We want the time we spent on this earth to mean something and to have value.
Over the past few days I have been considering my own exit strategy – my plan for living the rest of my life and finishing strong. The following ideas are ones which resonate and ring true for me.
Live with Purpose and Passion
Deep down inside of us there is a spark, a beam of light which brilliantly illuminates our purpose and passion in life. We clearly see this and feel it each day. The issue becomes how we can build a life around nurturing and living our purpose and following our passion.
Circumstances sometimes dictate we spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy in activities which are not directly aligned with our purpose or passion. Consider the teenager who dreams of being a doctor or scientist, but does not have the financial means to pursue this calling. Think of the poet, the song writer, or the artist who spends more time waiting tables in restaurants than on their true passions.
These kinds of situations can cause some to become cynical and jaded with the condition and state of their lives. Others keep moving forward, knowing and believing their true purpose will become realized one day because its importance, it impact on others, cannot be suppressed forever.
These people get out of bed each day with the faith and confidence that they are one day closer to living their purpose and passion. They have a plan for their life and understand adjustments will need to be made from time to time, but fulfilling their purpose is inevitable.
The first piece of my exit strategy is to make certain I do everything possible to live on purpose and to pursue my passion with as much determination and tenacity as I can offer. My plan is to leave nothing on the field. – Alex Blackwell
Leave a Mark
We want our lives to mean something – and not just for ourselves. We want to make a difference in the lives of other people, too.
At our core, most of us are social, caring beings. We extend our hands when someone needs to be lifted up; we hold the door open when someone is a few feet behind us; and we listen when someone needs to vent.
We also look for opportunities to improve the lives of others. We look for ways to transfer our experiences and knowledge into positive and tangible benefits. This is best illustrated with how we try to be the best parents and partners we can be, or when we volunteer our time, talent and other resources to people and causes which are important to us.
Yes, we may hoard the last of the ice cream we find in the freezer, but when it comes down to the truly important things in life, when it really matters, we strive to leave this world a little better than how we found it.
The second part of my exit strategy is to consider how I can best leverage what I have to offer in the most meaningful and productive ways. – Alex Blackwell
Don’t Walk Alone
Life is meant to be shared. The joys are more joyful when they shared and the hurts have a little less sting when we receive some gentle comfort and compassion.
Sharing life experiences also increase their value because their effects are multiplied. When you are able to tell someone how you achieved, or endured, you are giving them a head start; a life short-cut if you will, which may allow them to experience even more success, and perhaps a little less pain, in the process.
The final piece of my exit strategy is to make sure the people in my life who know and love me the most, feel the love returned. I don’t want anyone guessing when I’m not around anymore how much I loved them – I want them to know it; to feel it, always. – Alex Blackwell
Planning an exit strategy for our life is not a contingency or back-up plan and it’s not a way to mitigate risks. It is a conscious and deliberate attempt to live the best life we can and to finish as strong as possible.
Please consider sharing your exit strategies in Comments below.