This Is How To Avoid The Golden Handcuffs

How To Avoid The Golden Handcuffs

Picture this:

You are sitting in a huge office with your own private secretary. Everyone calls you “sir” or ‘madam’ and as you peer out the window you can catch a glimpse of your brand new Porsche. This great feeling lasts for only a second until the onset of a grim reality sets in. Your email is reaching its quota with messages you haven’t yet read. Your phone is ringing non-stop and you assume it’s going to be another night away from family.

The thought of leaving crosses your mind until you realize you have responsibilities and a lifestyle to maintain. It would have been okay if this was what you really wanted and loved doing. However, deep down inside you know that money played a big part in your decision to choose this position. You suddenly realize, in that very moment, that you have fallen prey to the golden handcuffs.

When you are young and naive, you may have the natural inclination to choose the job that rewards you with a huge pay. Fast cars and flashy assets seem great don’t they? It is not a bad thing to have them but the problem arises if you use them to replace the void caused by a lack of happiness. This is because happiness arising from material wealth is often short-lived which is why wealthy people that are unhappy constantly feel the need to lavishly spend their income. It is often advice from family and friends that can make you believe that a fast rise to success and wealth is the best choice. However many successful people who have rushed the process of  moving up the career ladder can vouch for the fact that it is not as rosy as it is made out to be – if done for the wrong reasons.

If you feel that you are falling into the trap of the golden handcuffs, it is not too late to change your ways. Here are some great tips for avoiding the golden handcuffs before it is too late:

Always follow your passion

This is easier said then done. People who struggle with this primarily experience two difficulties:

1) They don’t know what their passion is

2) they associate too much of risk with their passion

The issue of finding one’s career calling is a lengthy one but often comes down to choosing what you are good at and what you love doing – then finding a suitable path to monetize it. You can easily use hints from your childhood to find out what you love doing and friends and family often give great perspective when it comes to discovering what you are good at. The latter issue which is the fear to pursue your passion is often as a result of your intuition telling you that it is not possible. You need to therefore weigh up the risk and identify if the risk is really worth the fuss. Just remember that if you follow your passion you are less likely to feel like you are being trapped by the golden handcuffs.

Don’t rush climbing the career ladder

You may be tempted to move up the corporate ladder quickly – I mean who can refuse wealth and status right? These are the guilty pleasures we as humans are slaves to. But before rushing into more senior roles make sure your technical foundation is strong. Remember as you move up to managerial and senior roles, your job deals more with delegation. Therefore, you stand to lose two valuable opportunities if you rush this process:

1) the opportunity gain practical first hand experience

2) the opportunity to gain perspective as to what you really love doing

With entry level jobs it is easier to switch around however once you move to higher roles it is much more difficult to demote yourself especially if you find that you have made the wrong career move. Therefore spend the time learning about what you love doing – you will find the time well spent.

Always ask yourself “why” to avoid the golden handcuffs

Keeping on the previous point – a useful thing to always do when considering career moves is to always ask why. Why are you taking the new job? Why are you leaving your current job? These questions help to put things into perspective and will make sure that you are doing things for the right reasons. One of the major reasons people fall into the golden handcuffs is because they don’t ask why. They move into roles and remain unhappy for years often using dependency on money as an excuse for their stagnancy. If you can properly substantiate why a job is worth the move then you know that you will not fall prey to the golden handcuffs.

Choose your jobs carefully

Many people will tell you that diversifying your experiences can improve your job prospects. This is true to a certain extent. Just because a vacancy opens up and you are able to fill the role doesn’t mean that you should leave the job you love to pursue that position. The major mistake people tend to make is not clearly defining their career path. Take the time to clearly map out the best career options for you and constantly update this map. If an opportunity arises that falls within your map then consider pursuing it otherwise let it slide by. In this way you know that you will be moving forward for the right reasons and are less likely to take on roles just for the monetary compensation.

Don’t be complacent – Loyalty is overrated

No! This does not mean giving away company secrets to the competitor. It means always putting your own development and prosperity first. If this means looking elsewhere for the best companies to offer you opportunities that are going to move you closer to your aspirations – Then by all means do it! This way you never become complacent. Because complacency is your worst enemy. It is going to force you into jobs you hate because you are too comfortable and scared to move. It is going to make companies liken you to furniture and sometimes undervalue your worth.

You should love at least 80% of your job

I use this percentage but you can choose whatever you prefer in accordance with your threshold. If you love at least 80% of your job description – you are more likely to spend less time on monotonous duties. At the end of the day, the good parts of your job is likely to make up for the bad. Eventually you can move your career path such that you increase the percentage of things you love doing even further. The goal here is to get as close to reaching 100% of loving every part of your job.

Minimize your monthly expenses or practice living frugal

The last yet most vital tip is to minimize your recurring monthly expenses. I am talking about freeing up your car and house and limiting your recurring expenses to just the necessities. This ensures that your monthly income can remain low and you don’t have to feel trapped by a high paying job. Another great stoic method is to practice your worst fear. In this case, practice being poor. This method will allow you to overcome your fear of losing the high paying job that is constraining your happiness. If you relinquish all attachments to material wealth, you will find it much easier to purse endeavors for the right reasons.


Ash Govender is a practicing engineer and aspiring polymath. He has a deep interest in how the mind works. Through his blog mindspurt.com, he gives great insight on how to make better and more productive use of the mind to achieve goals. His hopes are to make mindspurt.com a hub-spot for intellectual thinkers and to promote better ways of thinking and making decisions. Contact Ash at admin AT mind spurt DOT com or follow his blog on facebook.


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2 Responses to How To Avoid The Golden Handcuffs

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  2. Tutoriage says:

    Golden handcuffs won’t make anyone happy. It’s true. Thank you for such good post. We have to care about our selves always, because health is one of the most important thing in our lives.

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