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If you haven’t heard of golden handcuffs, it’s where you’re in a job that pays well and has good benefits, but for one reason or another, you don’t want to be there.
Maybe you hate the job. Maybe you don’t hate the job, but you don’t really like it. It isn’t really the kind of work you like to do or maybe the people you’re around aren’t great, they drain your energy, or stress you out. But again, it pays well.
It pays so well that you feel bad leaving it, or maybe you think you would look foolish leaving it. Your friends would think you’re foolish because they all wish they were you.
From the outside, it looks like you have a great job, great benefits, and great pay. They say, “We wish we were you! Why are you quitting your job? Why are you leaving when you have this great opportunity?” so you feel foolish and you’re held back. Even though you don’t want to be in this job, you don’t quit because you think about what other people would think of you.
Maybe you’re afraid of leaving the stability of the job or maybe your friends talk about how stable your job seems, and how foolish it would seem for you to leave that job and leave that stability.
Maybe you have things you enjoy on the side and your aspirations are to come home from work—from this job you don’t enjoy, around people you don’t want to with—to work on it but you get home and you’re just drained of all the energy you would need to even be able to pursue these side projects or passions you have. You don’t have the kind of energy you need to do the kind of work you like to do, even though it’s outside of your job.
The Right Kind of Day Job
Here’s the thing about the right kind of day job: it almost seems like it’s not even possible, especially when you’re stuck in a golden handcuffs position.
The right type of day job will charge you for your passion.
The wrong kind of day job will deplete you of the energy that you need to pursue your passion.
It may seem crazy to think that there could be a day job out there where you come home from work and you’re actually energized and you’re excited to pursue your passion, but there are jobs like that. The problem is most people compromise on something that’s their passion and something that pays well. They find a job where it’s kind of what they like to do and it pays really well, but something is compromised. Maybe it’s their professionalism, the boss forcing them to do things that are against their values, or working unhealthy hours with bad clients and you have no say over it.
Somewhere, something was compromised to where the thing that you’re passionate about is no longer fulfilling. This is why you need to get a day job in a different industry than what you’re passionate about. This is what seems so counterintuitive for some people. They think that they want to get a job in an area of their passion. The problem is they end up compromising because of the good pay, the benefits, or the environment, and that’s how you have golden handcuffs.
You’re locked into a situation where you kind of get to do the work you do, but maybe the people aren’t great or maybe you don’t get to be as professional in your process, or you don’t get to be as selective with the clients you work with. If you get a day job in a different industry than your passion, it’s a totally separate kind of work. It doesn’t take the same kind of energy you need to do the work you enjoy.
When you have a day job like this, you will come home from work energized to pursue what you’re passionate about. If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you have compromised or the job situation has evolved where you’re no longer enjoying the work, the environment’s bad, the people you’re around are bad, or your boss is bad, you’ve got to get out of there.
What makes it difficult is if you’re locked into these golden handcuffs. Especially if you’ve allowed your lifestyle to creep up to your means, you’re going to feel trapped because you have all these liabilities. You’ve continued to make payments on things or acquired debts that match to the salary you’re getting.
You have to evaluate: do you want this job where you have this handsome salary, but you’re locked into all these liabilities, or are you willing to downsize? Maybe simplify your life a little bit so that you have freedom.
There’s No Such Thing as Job Security
It feels like you have a secure job. It feels like you have a consistent paycheck that’s never going to go away, but the reality is in any job there is risk.
When you work for an employer, you simply don’t see that risk. If the company isn’t doing well, they’re not telling you that. It’s not your job to know. It’s not your business to know. But when you run your own business, you’ll see first hand that there are tons of risks.
Essentially, you’re working in someone else’s fortress and it feels safe when you’re inside the fortress. You don’t know about the dangers out there, because you’re not at the top of the fortress looking out and seeing those dangers coming. At any time, that fortress can be attacked. The fortress can collapse and you’re not even going to know. Suddenly, you have no job. Suddenly, you’re let go. Suddenly an entire branch of your company is fired. These things happen. Companies go under, companies go bankrupt, and you don’t even know what’s happening.
It may feel risky going out and doing your own thing or lowering your lifestyle to be able to build your side business and have that energy, but it’s always a risk. No matter what job you have, you can’t be sure. There’s no such as job security.
If you want to get out, you have to make a plan of escape. If you had money set aside in a savings account, how much money would you be comfortable leaving your job with? What number would you need to quit your job and go do something new? You have to know this. So many people don’t even plan. They don’t even know what number they would be comfortable leaving their job with.
You have to make a plan of escape and you have to get your spouse on board. If you don’t get your spouse on board, it’s just not going to work. You’re a team, you have to communicate with them. You need to be on the same page. If they’re not comfortable with your number, ask them what number they’re comfortable with. Make it a goal. Work toward it.
You can’t have this ambiguity where they’re afraid, but you don’t ever quantify that fear. You don’t ever figure out what would make them feel better about you quitting your job and you just end up staying in a job you hate for years and years. This happens to so many people. You have to communicate with your spouse and you have to make a plan of escape.
You can have a bunch of money and still not be happy.
That’s not thriving, that’s surviving.
You want to thrive, not just survive. This is not a game, it’s life—you only have one opportunity. You only have one shot at this. You’re spending your limited, precious commodity of time. You’re spending that currency. When you go to your job, you’re spending that limited currency. You only have one shot, don’t stay in a job you hate and remember, your life doesn’t start when you get home from work.