Imagine that it is five years from now and you’ve just sold your business. A look at your bank account reveals a figure you’ve not seen before. You smile a big smile… you’re so satisfied that you haven’t begun to think about the next chapter.
It is the first day you don’t have to go into the office. You can dress casually; have a leisurely coffee, and read the morning paper. You can’t help it; you have to check your emails on your smart phone. There are several notes of congratulations from former clients, suppliers and friends. A couple jokes about golf. None from your former employees – the people you’ve worked with for the past 30 years. “What’s that about?” you wonder.
The Next Chapter
Back to the newspaper. Then you gaze out the window. With a mixture of pleasure and guilt you realize you don’t have to work anymore. No more long nights at the office, weekend interruptions or employee problems. You can do whatever you want for the rest of your life.
“But,” the question arises, “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” You’ve been so busy for the past few years getting your business ready for sale that you’ve not thought about that.
That’s what happened to Bob (not his real name), a business owner I met a few years ago. After selling his business for a fortune, he became seriously depressed. Although he had more money than he would need in his lifetime and a blank calendar, he spent most of the next two years in bed ‘recovering’ from the sale of his business.
After a series of misdiagnoses, he consulted a psychiatrist who pointed out that when Bob sold the business, he had “died.” The person he was before the sale no longer existed. He was no longer a CEO, Chair of the board, boss, mentor or successful business owner. He went from a position of high respect and high tension to nothing. It was overwhelming.
The process of his recovery began with reinventing himself and creating a new vision for his future. He believed that if he had thought about and created the future he wanted before he sold his business, his transition would have been much healthier.
If you want to enjoy the transition from business owner to something else, begin to plan for the next chapter before you get there. Create the future you want. Then you can look forward to that day with excitement and anticipation rather than dread.
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