Regardless of the kinds of activities you follow – sports, music, movies, politics, etc. – you’ve probably wondered why some people hang around for so long, and sometimes too long. Brett Favre may have played one season too many. Frank Sinatra may have sung a few years too many. Why it happens is fairly simple; and how it happens should be a lesson to all of us. 

 In most cases, the feeling of being on top is so addictive that one starts to measure their worth by what they do. As a result, the fear is when they stop doing what they do, they will be worth less than they can accept. Many of us share this concern because we haven’t spent enough time developing a sense of worth based on something other than our job. Far too often, that keeps us in the game longer than we should stay. 

So, if you are beginning to become aware of an imminent transition in life, here are a few thoughts for you to consider about making a graceful exit and rediscovering life.

  1. Recognize that you are a person first and foremost. For decades you may have responded to the “and what do you do?” question by saying “I run this” or “I have my own business” or some other response that enshrines your activities and entraps you in how you make a living. 

  2. Learn to be bigger than what you own, run, or do. Andrew Carnegie was a steel tycoon who is more remembered for his philanthropic interests than for his steel mills. 

  3. Let your money compliment your legacy. If you’re using money as your success scorecard, some would suggest you’re keeping track of the wrong thing. Your heirs will have opportunities to amass their own financial nets; but they will not always have the opportunity to be with you. 

  4. Accept the fleeting nature of fame. Shakespeare talked about life being a player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. Someone else, Andy Warhol I believe, talked about everyone having fifteen minutes of fame. Don’t be greedy. Leave when you’re on top. 

  5. Treat your legacy and your life like a stock portfolio: Diversify, Diversity, Diversify. In this case, vary your interests and pursue all those things you wish you’d done years ago. It’s never too late to get involved in what you like. If you don’t think you’re very good at it, do it anyway. 

Some of you will no doubt think, “This sounds good, but it’s just not that easy!” Yes, it is. In the words of one of the world’s greatest marketing companies, “Just Do It!” 

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