The Psychology of Escaping the Day Job

If you love your job and can’t wait to get there in the morning and, at the end of the day feel energised, satisfied knowing you make a difference, then stop reading now.

If that’s not the case and you feel trapped and frustrated, wondering how to escape the treadmill, knowing your values are compromised and the thought of politics leaves you demoralised and you know there’s a better way, then I challenge you to examine what it is that’s stopping you changing it?

Whatever your reason, the underlying theme no doubt will be fear.  Twenty-five years of being a psychologist has shown me that the underlying cause of people’s inaction is the fear – conscious or unconscious – of what might happen if they step out of line.  Here are some of the typical things I have heard over the years:

  • Once I have enough money put away, I will take the risk.
  • If I knew the future was predictable, I would quit now.
  • If my new venture was a guaranteed success, I’d leave in a heart-beat.
  • Once I am truly qualified, I’ll feel confident to make the change.

What is the Fear?

Underlying each of these excuses is the fear that you will:

  1. Fail and feel stupid.
  2. Run out of money and have to live on the street.
  3. Be humiliated with smug naysayers saying “I told you so!”
  4. Feel foolish that you ever thought your situation would be different.
  5. Feel isolated because there are so few people on the road less travelled.
  6. Never get back on the ladder and have to be satisfied with less.
  7. Feel even more trapped, having gone through savings or worse, got into more debt.

These fears all take place within what Alain de Bottom (2004) calls Status Anxiety.

The desire of people in many modern societies to “climb the social ladder” and the  anxieties that result from a focus on how one is perceived by others

it is this anxiety that will keep you from acquiring the mindset and skills to:

  1. Get up every morning, vibrant and existed about your life.
  2. Develop the ability to have the conversations that matter with yourself and others to find new solutions to age-old problems.

Let me tell you a secret.

  • No-one is watching.
  • People who criticise you may do so because your actions reflect on their own status anxiety e.g. parents who resist their children going against the norm.
  • Those who ridicule you as naïve do so because if they no longer feel safe in the knowledge that everyone is in the same boat.

The majority of what keeps you trapped in a job and life you don’t enjoy is Uncertainty. If you have any doubt about the power of avoiding uncertainty, consider the attempts we have created to maintain certainty:

  1. Life insurance – so others will be looked after if you die.
  2. Health insurance – so you’ll be supported if you get sick.
  3. Income protection – so you’ll always have enough.
  4. Superannuation – so you don’t end up old and poor.
  5. Mortgage – so you will have a roof over your head.
  6. Investment properties – so you’re not left behind.
  7. The list goes on…..

The Certainty Myth

One of the myths I explore in The Myths of Life and the Choices We Have is the Certainty Myth.

It is better to be part of a group than to be an individual.

In our world of overwhelm and fear, conformity is sold to us disguised as certainty and safety. However, such conformity in its most powerful form stops you even thinking about other possibilities, instead acquiescing the going along with the norm that says, “Work hard, put enough money and security aside and one day you will be free to choose the life of your dreams!”

I come across every day, with people telling me that their anxiety is reaching intolerable proportions, and no amount of foregoing the pleasure of doing meaningful work, is helping them face with the dread and mundanity of having a job and lifestyle they despise.

How do you escape?

If this article resonates with you and you know you’re are not truly doing what you want, eager each morning to face the world, there is a way to get out of the trap.

If you want to have what you have not, you must do what you do not

  1. Question Everything.
    Don’t accept the status quo.  Look for ways to make your dream a reality and ask people who have successfully made the shift for their advice.
  2. Embrace Fear.
    Make friends with your doubts and use them to highlight what you need to change and what you don’t.  See anxiety as a loyal friend who is saying things are out of balance and negotiate with it to discern what is self-sabotage and what is excitement.
  3. Accept that No-One’s Watching.
    People are preoccupied with their own status anxiety and fears to worry about yours.  Those who criticise you for taking steps to improve your life may not have your best interests at heart.  Surround yourself with people who truly want the best for you.
  4. Romance Your Dream.
    Create a vision of the future you want to create.  Don’t allow doubt and practicalities to get in the way of thinking big and access the emotion you anticipate feeling when you make it happen.  Quantum Science tells confirms that this technique is a powerful way of manifesting reality, not merely alternative trickery.
  5. Embrace Uncertainty.
    Accept that there is no insurance policy on life, but you will be safer if you embrace ways to ensure you can deal with whatever comes along.  See uncertainty as a normal and predictable part of life, bringing new opportunities and challenges to live meaningfully.

Contact me if you want to explore how I can help you make this happen.


DOWNLOAD your free digital copy of The Myths of Life and the Choices We Have to further explore the unquestioned social, personal and cultural assumptions that keep you trapped in the “Shoulds, Oughts and Musts” of life.  By identifying the myths against which you make choices, you will expand your options and take the steps to improve your life.

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