This week begins March Madness, the NCAA men’s basketball championship tournament. From now until the final game is played on April 5, film crews will be capturing the most memorable moments – from the joyous to the heartbreaking – to craft into a video montage played at the end of the tournament over one of the most recognizable songs associated with college sports: David Barrett’s “One Shining Moment.”
The Championship games represent the final opportunities this year for these athletes to take a run at the work they love and have poured themselves into for years. For some of them, it will also be their final time on the court.
Those who are graduating or not returning to the sport the following year will wake up on the morning of April 6 to grapple with some of the same questions about identity, purpose and belonging that the founders of businesses face when they sell their company and step off the court on which they, too, have been playing for years.
I wonder how many coaches and parents and fans are prepared to walk alongside those athletes as they find their new place in the world when March Madness ends? Who will take that walk with you?
Retirement begins to loom over everyone once they reach a certain age. For athletes, that age typically comes much sooner than for the rest of us.
At some point, Father Time forces every one of us to make a decision: Go out on top, or try to hang on as long as possible. I’m sure you can name some of those athletes who chose the second path and tried to stick around past their expiration dates and saw their legacies take a hit.
Ask any rookie or mid-career athlete what their long-term goal is and they’ll likely tell you it’s to keep playing sports. No one wants to imagine their career coming to an end.
But here’s the thing: It will end eventually. It’s inevitable. And it could come sooner than they think if they’re injured, aged-out of their program, or simply get sick of the daily grind.
The same is true for every business owner. Although I often hear clients say “I just love being ‘in the game,’” the reality is that, at some point, like every athlete you will leave your business – voluntarily or involuntarily.
So, ask yourself: What do you want to do when your run is over? When it’s time to step off the court?
Do you want to head into early retirement? Drum up a second career? Or are you aiming to be like those old codgers who try to ignore the fans shouting from the stands “Retire Already! Hang it Up, Old Man!” Really think about the answer, and then write down anything that come to mind. Your biggest successes may actually come after you exit the game.
Preparing for Retirement is Like Prepping for the Final Game of the Season
Think of retirement as the biggest game of the season. Retirement is a culmination of all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put into honing your craft. It’s where all the hard work pays off.
But instead of having one season to prepare for the big game (your life after retirement), you have your entire career. There are no do-overs or resets. What you give is what you get.
With this in mind, it’s critical to put a game plan in place now that details how to set yourself up to live the life you want on the other side of the sale of your business.
It’s easy to think the score is marked just by the numbers in your account, or the size of the transaction upon your exit. But, like the best athletes know, preparing well to transition into life’s next season with confidence and clarity and team mates you want to play with takes some special training.
It’s up to you what scenes are playing in the montage of your life.
Let’s get the conversation started.