Writing Your Inaugural Address for Your Next Life Transition

Public leaders often hold inauguration ceremonies to mark the beginning of a term in office. You can playfully use this model to develop a tool for personal life transitions.

Inauguration, as defined by Merriam-Webster, means “to induct into office with suitable ceremonies,” “to dedicate ceremoniously, or “to bring about the beginning of.” Wikipedia describes an inauguration as “a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of a leader’s rule.” Indeed, these events include massive media coverage, large crowds, a parade, parties, and the ever-important inaugural address.

For a newly inducted President, governor, mayor, or other public leader, the inaugural address serves several purposes:

  • It creates broad awareness that an important transition has occurred.
  • It allows them to communicate their vision of where they wish to lead their constituents, to explain how everyone will benefit from this vision, and to describe how others can assist in making the vision a reality.
  • It enables them to communicate some of the values they share with their constituents, and how those values will play a role in the leader’s strategies.
  • Often, they also outline a sense of connection to a deeper shared core identity that transcends time and geographic boundaries.

Both the leader and the institutions supporting them recognize that it’s vital to set a clear sense of direction, and to build momentum by getting everyone really charged up – on both the emotional and intellectual levels.

Whether or not you’re a public leader, you can apply similar techniques to self-leadership and transitions in your own life. This could be for a job or career transition, for a new relationship, for a geographic move, or for a decision to pursue a long-held dream.

Would you agree that you are the primary leader of your own life? Even if you don’t currently feel like it, do you wish to step into that role more powerfully?

If so, might it be helpful to have an “inaugural address” that leads into the next phase of your existence? Could this guide you in your thinking and actions as you transition? I’m not talking about something to formally read to an audience, but something to put down on paper and return to on a regular basis.

Imagine that you are standing before a crowd of all the people who have been important to you in your life, and many of the people whom you’ll meet in the future. Jot down a few paragraphs that include the following elements:

  • What is your vision of where you want to be in the next six months, year, four years? Consider the various areas of life outlined in the Life Investment Portfolio Chart (career and work, family, recreation, financial, etc.).
  • What elements of your authentic core identity (values, purpose, and strengths) will you honor and express as you pursue your vision?
  • What commitments will you make to yourself and to others, to advance progress toward your vision?
  • In what ways can you communicate elements of your vision to others so they can support you in getting there? Related to this, how will your own vision benefit people you already know or will likely meet as you move forward?
  • How will you celebrate and announce this next phase of life to get yourself charged up, motivated, and ready to go?

Put your “speech” aside and return to it once a week over the next month. As you re-read it, revise it however you wish.

Keep in mind that several months after a public leader begins office, media figures begin to revisit their initial promises, analyzing the degree to which they appear to be moving toward them. Set a few future dates – perhaps 3, 6 and 12 months down the road – when you plan to revisit your own progress on items outlined in your inaugural address. What will your first 100 days look like?

Photo by Flickr user InSapphoWeTrust, brightness and contrast adjusted. License.

Dave welcomes phone-based life, career, and transition coaching clients from around the world.

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