Regardless of what kinds of activities you follow – sports, music, movies, politics, etc. – you’ve probably wondered why some people hang around for so long, before it becomes too long.  Brett Farvre may have played a 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 almost all cases, including Brett and Frank, the roar of the crowd and the smell of the greasepaint become so addictive that they measure their worth by what they do.   As a result, their fear is that when they stop doing what they do, they will become worth less than they can accept.  In short, they will be “has beens.”Many of us have the same concerns, because we haven’t spent enough time developing a sense of worth based on something other than what we do.  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 human being 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.  As a result, my little town of 15,000 had a library when a sizable portion of the population still struggled with reading.

  3. Let your money compliment your legacy.  If you’re using money as your success scorecard, some would suggest you’re probably keeping track of the wrong things.  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.  When you’re on top, leave.

  5. Treat your legacy and your life like a portfolio:  Diversify, Diversity, Diversify.  The danger of putting all your financial eggs in one basket has been recognized since the days of that ancient Greek Aesop.  In this case, diversify your interests and pursue all those things you wish you had done years ago.  It’s never too soon to get involved in what you like.   

If you don’t think you’re very good at it, do it anyway.Some readers 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!”st Do It!”

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