It’s important to do this sooner rather than later. You need to work out where you’re going. After all, if you haven’t decided on the destination you intend to travel to, you’ll never know when you get there.
Therefore, as soon as you’ve planned your departure, look to the future, and plan that, too.
Large or small?
Have you thought about the type of organisation you want to work in when you leave FE? For example, do you prefer big or small organisations?
Do you like to be a member of a big concern? Do you like the idea of having different departments dealing with different business functions? Do you expect to find an HR department, a marketing function, a finance section as well as operations (what the business actually does)? Is this the sort of workplace that feels right to you?
Alternatively, do you want to work in an organisation where every one knows everybody and where there will be lots of variety in the work you’re asked to do, because every one has to do more than one job?
Think carefully about this. The size of organisation you choose to work in has an enormous impact on your working life and on your wellbeing.
Starting a business
Do you want to be your own boss? Do you want to work for yourself?
If you think this is the right choice for you, are you planning to start a business, or are you thinking about becoming self-employed? Don’t avoid the question. There’s a big difference between the two.
If you become self-employed then you’re looking to sell your labour in your chosen marketplace. You want to exchange your time for money. You might decide to become a consultant or a coach or an independent trainer. You might become a contractor using a specialist skill that you have.
On the other hand, if you’re setting up a business, then you’re thinking about selling products and services. You’re thinking about selling something other than your expertise and your time.
Which is it going to be? Your decision will affect your choice of business model and the way in which you manage your working life from now on.
Are you making other major changes?
Thinking about making a big change in your life, like leaving FE, might lead you to think about making other changes too.
Are you looking to work in a different part of the country, or maybe even in a different country altogether? Are you planning to make your living in a new field, for example, online perhaps as an internet marketer? Are you thinking about looking for a job, but at a different level, in a different industry and maybe in a different type of organisation?
You need to think about your options and your preferences. There are lots of choices to be made.
It’s important not to drift. Committing yourself to leave FE is only part of the decision-making process. Moving away from FE is one thing. Next you must think about where you’re actually headed.
In the context of your career and future plans doors are opening and closing in front of you all the time. You’ll need to be clear about which ones you intend to step through so that you end up in the right place for you.
Margaret Adams Chartered FCIPD is the author of The Solo Success Start-Up Guide. She helps expert professionals plan for a future that they control. Find out more about her work at: www.margaretadams.co.uk and at www.solosuccess.co.uk