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From Golden Handcuffs to Diamond Days

Golden Handcuffs is a phrase I have heard several times recently.

Basically, it means:

I hate my job, but I am being paid too much money to leave.

I am trapped.

Read that again.

Is there something wrong with the picture it creates?

Recently I read an article in the Times, shared by Lisa Unwin of the Reignite Academy

Having come from a law background myself, I thank my lucky stars that in smaller, general practice I was not subject to this culture. (Whilst still being a little jealous of the salaries and bonuses mentioned here…) But I heard of many people who were. In some of the larger firms there was an expectation and a culture of working to 10pm, making you a slacker if you left at 6pm.

I have heard anecdotally that this is changing and that younger lawyers are not prepared to put up with this. Unfortunately, I have also heard anecdotally that it is still the same. I have spoken to people who have suffered from burnout and who are adamant that they are not returning to this culture (in law and other industries).

And it’s not just law. I had a client recently in technology who expressed the term “golden handcuffs” to me. She worked hard for her salary, was extremely talented, but confessed to a toxic atmosphere and culture. As a loyal and hardworking employee, when the chips were down, she was let go. An opportunity for her to escape the golden handcuffs, but also a two-fingered salute to her loyalty and hard work.

So here are the questions on this:

1. Are you in Golden Handcuffs?

2. If so, do you want to escape?

3. What is this money doing for you?

4. What is the cost to you? (Read the Times Article – your social life, your relationships, your health, your mental health, your interaction with anything outside of your job, your time with your kids/family/partner)

5. What is the benefit to you?

6. Is the cost-benefit worth it to you?

And if you are thinking about quitting, how do you know when it’s the right time?

Especially a perceived prestigious role? Recently I also read that Mairead Ronan is stepping down from Ireland’s Fittest Family after 10 years. This hot on the heels of Ryan Tubridy announcing his departure from The Late, Late Show. Even other recent resignations have caught our eye: Nicola Sturgeon and Jacinda Ardern for example.

It’s alright for them It’s all well and good to say that these people, and others perhaps, have the luxury of being able to step away from positions that no longer serve them, or have the space and finances to sustain them while they look for a new challenge. (Firstly, that is a huge assumption, but I digress)

What about me? I can't just quit! Can the “ordinary person” afford to make these kinds of big decisions? Can we just announce our resignation if we’ve had enough? Is a prestigious job a kind of golden-handcuffs situation? What is holding you back from quitting? Money? What people will think? The lack of a plan? Fear? If you have considered quitting, I would encourage you to ask yourself why you considered it? What is not working for you? And what might the solution be? What action can you take to put that situation right or make it better? I would also encourage you to take some action. Even a tiny step.

· Look at a job advertisement (I said look!)

· Or pull out your CV

· Or do some journalling to try to make sense of some of those swirling thoughts

· Or have a conversation at work about your current role

· Or put a pot plant on your desk

· Talk to a coach

· But do something

Can you afford to quit?

Or can you afford not to?

Get in touch for support with these burning questions, help get some clarity, make a plan, take action and break free of those golden handcuffs.

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