The clock is ticking on Michelle Obama's remaining time in the White House and presidential pundits are weighing in on what the first lady's post-White House plans may look like.
President Barack Obama said on "The Tonight Show" recently that once Inauguration Day comes "you're out of there." But as the packing gets underway, it remains to be seen what Michelle Obama's first move might be upon leaving 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"I really think she's just going to walk out and feel a sense of freedom that she hasn't felt in seven and a half years," said Kate Bennett, Independent Journal Review's White House correspondent. "I think she's definitely going to kind of revel in not having the shackles on, in a way."
Although living in the historic and luxurious confines of the executive mansion might seem glamorous, the first lady hasn't exactly hidden her unease about residing under a microscope.
"What do I want to do?" FLOTUS said to Oprah Winfrey when asked about her future during a discussion at a women's summit earlier this month. "I want to walk out. I want to open my front door without discussing it with anyone, and I want to walk out that door and just walk."
Dr. Myra Gutin, a communications professor at Rider University and author of "The President's Partner: The First Lady in the Twentieth Century" thinks she will try to go back to a more private life.
"She's been public in saying she'd like to go into Target and buy things, and not be trailed by the Secret Service. But that's not going to happen, at least for awhile," Gutin said.
A more likely possibility in the nearer future: Obama inking a book deal.
"She'll probably start working on an autobiography. That's likely to take up quite a bit of her time," Gutin said, noting that it's become a tradition that began with former President Richard Nixon's wife, Pat, and continued with every subsequent first lady. Gutin believes the first lady will write by herself without a ghost writer.
While penning a memoir might be the traditional route a first lady takes, Peter Slevin said Michelle Obama's post-White House journey could diverge from the typical trail. Slevin is a Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism associate professor and author of "Michelle Obama: A Life."
"Michelle's made clear that she's not following any particular model in the White House for what a first lady should do, and I think the same will hold true when she leaves," Slevin said. "She's going to carve her own path."
That could mean continuing her work on several causes she's championed throughout her time in the nation's capital.
"If I had to think of something she'd do, it would be to go back to the non-profit sector," Slevin said. "It just seems that would resonate more with who she's been and her philosophy. You look at some of the things she did as first lady--from Let's Move, to Joining Forces, to Reach Higher, to Let Girls Learn--all these various things, I could see her working on those from a non-profit base."
"I think she's probably going to continue doing Let Girls Learn, her big initiative to help girls around the world get an education," Bennett predicted as well. "I think she'll probably stick with Let's Move or some sort of childhood obesity advocacy. And I think she's going to be involved a lot with the Obama Foundation, building a library in Chicago."
But the 52-year-old former lawyer may rack up the frequent flier miles jetting to and from the Windy City. The Obamas have said they're sticking around Washington until their youngest daughter, 15-year-old Sasha, graduates from high school. The first family's eldest, Malia, 18, plans on taking a gap year before beginning her studies at Harvard University in the fall of 2017.
One thing that all of these first lady insiders agree on is that Obama isn't likely to end up back in the White House. While chatter about a future in politics has followed FLOTUS throughout both of her husband's two terms as commander in chief, another President Obama is a no-go, the experts tell E! News.
"I don't think that she's ever liked politics a great deal to begin with," explained Gutin.
"It's clear that she will not go into politics. She will not follow Hillary Clinton's path. That's not her world," Slevin said. "Her challenge going forward will be to make a difference on the things she cares about.... without quite the same megaphone that she has now."
After nearly eight years of living life in the White House fishbowl, Obama may soon face one of her toughest decisions yet.
Bennett puts it simply: "I think she's like, 'Peace out. I'm done.'"