Contingencies: Plan a Graceful Exit

  1. Contingency Planning
  2. Contingencies: Commander’s Intent
  3. Contingencies: Plan a Graceful Exit
  4. Contingencies: Making Peace with Probability
  5. Contingencies: The Chrysalis Cycle

One of the things I hear over and over, not only from clients, but from friends is,

“I can’t decide! What if something changes?”

This is not as absurd a statement as it at first appears. What they are usually saying is that “I know things will change, and if I commit to this, I might miss the moment when I should have made the leap to something else.” Or,  “I know that things change quickly and I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket with this and then lose all the time and money I’ve invested.” Or sometimes even, “Even though I’m really excited about this, I know that there will be other things I get really excited about in the future, and I don’t want to seem inconsistent, and look like a flake. I want to be taken seriously, but I never complete anything because I don’t feel comfortable committing to it.”

It’s hard. But here’s something you can do to make it easier; plan your exit strategy.

Planning Your Exit Strategy

You probably already have a sort of method you go through when you’re excited by a new project, a new course of action, a new idea. Maybe you journal, maybe you make scads of sketches. Maybe you bounce ideas of your friends. All I suggest is that you add one little detail to that method: figure out your graceful exit.

What will you do when you get ready to move onto the next thing? If it’s a big thing, like a business, remember that you probably got into it so you could be free from certain constraints; to obtain a goal, in other words. So when it’s not doing it for you anymore, what are you gonna do? Sell off the assets? Outsource the day-to-day work to someone else? Dismantle it? Could you transform it?

If it’s a project, what did you want to get out of the project? For instance, I find that I usually just want to learn to do a certain thing, and I have to rein myself in from accidentally expanding the scope of the project to something more akin to an apprenticeship. That’s great, if that’s what you’re planning, and it’s totally fine to change, but it really helps to just note that you aren’t planning an 18-piece art installation– you just want to learn how to draw noses properly.

I’m testing out a new diet right now, and I’m having a hard time restraining myself from learning all the recipes, ever, and making them all, just to see what I like. So my new project reads “Find and test 10 quick, easy supper dishes based around vegetables that are easy to keep on hand so that it’s never “too much work” to have a healthy meal.” Figure out what you want out of your project before you get too sucked in.

Ideas are the most fun. I mean, seriously, as long as they’re not *so* pretty and shiny that you never get anything done, you might as well just enjoy them until they’re either discarded, or they morph into a project. They are passing infatuations; treat them like crush and don’t do anything too crazy while under the influence.

You can deal with a lot of creative paralysis once you sit down and figure out what you’ll do when the lustre fades. Don’t throw yourself into a project without figuring out how you’ll end it.

Who wants to deal with guilt and regrets when you’re onto the next great thing?

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