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Special section 6 ways to get ahead in the office or get out

The worst day as your own boss beats the best day in a cubicle, but no one would ever say that it's easy.

Leaving the cubicle for your own company

Exit can drive future success
How you exit corporate also may play a role in your ultimate success as an entrepreneur.

While conventional wisdom gives the edge to those who depart voluntarily, a pink slip actually can work for you, according to Kathy Marshack, a psychologist and author of "Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home."

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"Anger energy is pretty motivating," she points out. "Sometimes when you're really angry, you're going to prove something, and you can use that energy to motivate you to work really hard and show those terrible former employers how wonderful you are."

Corporate detox
Regardless of how you leave corporate, you'll likely face a period of adjustment that may last weeks, even months. Paradise likens it to the loss of a loved one.

"Some go very quickly from one to the other with a very brief grieving. They say, this is reality, this is life, this is what needs to be done, I'm going to do it," he says. "Others need time for the grieving process, for self-assessment, to define a skill set and get up and running."

Marshack says laid-off workers tend to need extra time to pick up the pieces.

"Getting a pink slip can be pretty demoralizing," she says. "You have to get past the grieving and the anger that you've been treated unfairly."

Giving yourself time is OK, as long as you don't succumb to inertia. Marshack urges you to take baby steps.

"It's kind of like depression," she says. "With depressed people, all they need to do is get up and start walking, and then you add one piece and pretty soon they have things rolling."

Details, details, details
Once you begin walking down the post-corporate road, starting your first venture can seem maddeningly difficult.

You're just coming out of an emotionally draining experience, you're facing the blank canvas that is your future, and you may suddenly be confronted with a seemingly endless number of little things that you don't know how to do -- make copies, run a fax machine, maybe even type or work on a computer. At the very time you need to marshal all of your forces, it seems you're being pecked to death by ducks.

"When you leave a prestigious position and you start your own company, probably at a much smaller level where you're doing everything you used to delegate to other people; it's strange," says Marshack. "It generates anger."

Paradise agrees.

"It can be very tiring. It's a different kind of work. Your whole self is involved in it, and often people work at it 24-7," he says.

"Unlike the corporate life, where they may leave things when they get in the elevator, the boundaries between work and personal life gets blurred," notes Paradise. "That blurred line is helpful because it brings a lot of energy, but it can take a lot of energy if people forget to live, as well."

 
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