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Keep Your Heart in the Game When Your Feet Are Out the Door

These 6 tips will take the lame out of lame duck, and help you prepare for your future


by Kara Baskin

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You’ve put in your notice at work, but you still have a few months before you say so long. It’s oh so tempting to disengage and just coast toward your big farewell. Resist the urge! New York City-based career coach Michelle Ward, whose website When I Grow Up I Wanna Love What I Do offers ways to use those final weeks or months to work on your future.

Sock away money for happy extras. “Especially if you’re planning a post-work trip or business venture, make the most of your steady salary while you can,” Ward says. Chances are you’ve set aside money to cushion the leap, so think about saving for fun frivolities too, whether it’s a massage or a new home-office chair when you finally clock out.

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Schedule those doctors’ visits. Meaning to get a mole checked out? Need a teeth-cleaning? It’s easy to forget in the frenzy of transition, but pack those appointments in while you still have subsidized health insurance.

Put your future front and center. “In the months before quitting, I posted my new business logo in my office—nothing outlandish, but just a subtle reminder for myself of what lay ahead,” Ward says. Adorn your workspace with private but meaningful visual touchstones—a framed photo of your new destination, an inspirational quote, or your new company motto. The tangibility will make your next step feel real.

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Set an intention for the day. If you’re having trouble smiling through a deadly client meeting that really won’t matter soon, help yourself with mental tricks. Ward recommends setting an intention—maybe a simple word like “perspective” or “breathe”—every morning before heading into work. “Having your own mantra reminds you that you’re still going through the motions with a greater goal in mind,” she says.

Fold your new life into your current one. Bookend your day with items that remind you of that there’s a new adventure ahead, whether it’s networking emails to prospective clients or registering for a continuing education class.

Think of your colleagues as people. “Never, ever burn bridges,” says Ward. Even the most poker-faced colleague might help you down the road, through client referrals or knowing someone who builds fantastic websites. During your transition time, get to know coworkers beyond their office roles to assess how they might contribute to your post-job life. Sally in accounting or Joe in sales might be full of surprises. Take them for coffee. Meet them for lunch. And if it doesn’t go well, take heart: You never have to work with ‘em again.

Photo Credit: Bounce/Getty Images