An exit strategy is not necessarily top of mind if you are enjoying a successful security career. We have previously looked at a wide range of strategies and needed competencies to advance in your profession. What we have not explored in-depth, however, is how to start planning your exit strategy when you are no longer seeking professional advancement.

Security professionals often continue to work well into their 60s and early 70s while maintaining healthy lifestyles with long life expectancies. When we talk to many of these executives who are still contributing to their organizations, often the common thread is that they have not given serious thought to their lives after traditional employment.

They often mention satisfaction and enjoyment at looking forward to a variety of ongoing challenges, including travel, attendance at professional events and seeing colleagues. However, this can also be a sign that work is too closely tied to their identity or they have not contemplated what they will do once they are no longer employed by an organization.  

One of the main challenges of not creating a plan for the next phase of your life is a reliance on everything remaining as-is. This is an unlikely scenario today. Change is inevitable, and a lack of investment in developing a realistic plan for the future can have devastating psychological effects.

Things you should consider doing when creating an exit strategy include:

  • Develop and maintain friendships that are not related to your work.
  • Rebuild your network by reaching out to people you have not connected with for a long time.
  • Consider dedicating time to a hobby.
  • Decide what is important to you in your life and explore new activities or areas of interest.
  • Be consistent in spending time with family and set boundaries relating to letting work interfere.
  • Don’t let your career title be your entire identity.
  • Volunteer on a project or cause that you feel passionate about.
  • Go back to school and study or learn about a subject of interest.
  • Prepare for the emotional transition to retirement.

There will be many ups and downs once you shift into this new phase. Emotions will range widely, from disenchantment all the way to excitement, while you reorient your life to achieve stability and balance.

This does not mean you just sit back and watch grass grow. It is very likely that you will find you may want to work part-time or even start a business surrounding a hobby, artistic endeavor or have a desire to make a difference by volunteering.  

Executing an effective exit strategy offers a satisfying way to usher in all the possibilities of what comes next. It is never too early to start the research, have discussions with your loved ones and begin to develop your plan.