White House aside, the world is Mitt Romney's oyster
Romney is now a restless chief executive with no organisation to run but with prospects galore
They predict he will write a book, convinced that the daily diary he kept on the campaign trail would make for a compelling read.
They speculate that he will return to the corridors of finance, where his reputation as a savvy chief executive and investor remains unblemished.
They suspect he could take on a major role in the Mormon Church, picking up where he left off two decades ago.
In conversations over the past 24 hours, friends, aides and advisers to Mitt Romney have begun turning their attention to an issue that until now they have never had to consider: his next move.
After three decades of remarkably seamless career hopping - from Bain Capital to the Olympic Games, from governor of Massachusetts to constant candidate for president - Romney is now a restless chief executive with no organisation to run.
During a meeting at his campaign headquarters in Boston a few hours after conceding to President Barack Obama, Romney told his staff members that they had just witnessed his last political campaign.
But he vowed, in the words of two people in the room, that "I will not fall off the map".
For now Romney, 65, seems profoundly absorbed by the present, turning over in his head a public rejection whose depth caught him by surprise.
At a breakfast on Wednesday morning for top campaign advisers and donors, Romney marvelled at the Obama campaign's ability to turn out such a large volume of voters, though at times by using strategies that he said had unfairly maligned him.
Even his own aides said it was hard to know precisely how Romney, an unsparing self-critic, would respond to a loss that had such a personal dimension. It was his second run for the White House, and he had believed, until the very end, that he was close to fulfilling the dream of his father, George, whose own presidential aspirations fell short in 1968.
Few of them can imagine him following the path of, say, Bob Dole, who traded in the title of Republican nominee to become a lobbyist and a pitchman for Viagra.
Then there is Al Gore, who descended into a private slump, growing a shaggy beard and putting on weight before slowly finding his passion in environmental advocacy that won him a Nobel Peace Prize.
"The only door that is closed to Mitt Romney for the remainder of his life is being president of the United States," said Steve Schmidt, an adviser to Senator John McCain in 2008. "He can do whatever else he wants to do."
He had a warning, though. "Losing a presidential campaign is something you never get over," Schmidt said. "The question is whether you can move forward without bitterness or rancour."
There will probably be no shortage of lucrative job offers for Romney, who has not taken a steady pay cheque since 1999, when he left Bain Capital to run the Salt Lake City Olympics.
"He's a hot commodity to me," Julian Robertson, a hedge fund titan, said.