Wednesday, November 6, 2013

From simmer to boil

Seems like year-end causes plans to go from simmer to boil: You sit around simmering all year in the family business, thinking about leaving, when suddenly the year is over—or really one is beginning—and you start to boil, going into a must-leave-the-business-now mode.

I once read a study that talked about prison escapes. Do you know when prisoners are most prone to try and escape? You'd think sometime at the beginning of their term: with the prospect of spending years in prison, they would try and make a run for it, right? Wrong! Most escapes are attempted at the end of their terms! The psychology behind this is: they just can't take it anymore; they can smell the freedom, it's so close, and they just can't bear another day in jail. So they make a run for it (and in most cases fail).

Nope... boil is not the way to go!

Here's the thing: when a pot of water starts boiling, two things can happen: one, the bubbling water can overflow and put out the flame; and/or two, the water eventually evaporates, leaving you with an empty (burnt) pot.

In other words, don't make a run for it! That is something that the child does, not the responsible adult. Instead, plan it out carefully: figure out what you are going to do, what you want to become, what job is best for you. Start working on your CV and your LinkedIn profile. These steps will make the thought of leaving tangible—something that is actually doable and achievable— and it will build your confidence in the process of leaving. And then, and only then, you make your exit.

(By the way, simmer isn't a good option either. It too will eventually leave you with an empty, burnt pot... Better off making a decision either way.)