“Golden Handcuffs” is a term used by employees to describe a situation in which a job provides you with some type of benefit that is SO good, you just can’t leave. It could be that your position allows you a ton of flexibility ( more so then you may find elsewhere). It could be that your company pays you significantly more then your competitors for the same position. Often times people in this situation feel stuck. “Stuck” is not one of my top ten feelings. You may not like the work you are doing, but the situation is just too good to give up. Unfortunately, you might find yourself feeling this way at various times throughout your career. When I practiced law, the firm I worked at had limited billable hours and I left by six everyday. Many of my friends were doing twice the work for the same money, so I felt pressured to stay. I hated every minute. I had knots in my stomach every time I walked through the door. Despite this, everyone kept telling me ” Don’t cry with two loaves of bread under your arms” and “you are in such a great place, suck it up.” These are really the last things you want to hear when you are unhappy at a job. We all know its hard to just suck it up. If you find yourself feeling like I did, take a step back and assess the situation. Are they really Golden Handcuffs you’re wearing, or are they just “Gold Dipped” ?
Ask yourself a few questions:
- What is really keeping me at this job?
- How good are the benefits I am receiving?
- If you looked hard enough, could I find this situation elsewhere?
- Can I tough it out until you don’t need the job any longer?
- Is staying at this job stifling my career?
If it’s something big keeping you at the job, you have to determine the value this brings to your life. Is it something you really need, or could you do without it? If you can’t do without it, but the job isn’t fulfilling, find coping mechanisms to make the job bearable. Volunteer for some additional opportunities, and look within the company for a similar positions that may challenge you a bit. Do some Yoga, de-stress and think about what life would be like without the perks! Trust me when I say, I know this is easier said then done. Sometimes, however, the perks are just too good to give up.
Now, if you decide you don’t necessarily need the benefits the job provides, you might consider looking at your options and consider whether you can find a good situation elsewhere. Start networking with colleagues to see who else may have a similar situation. Then, start researching these companies. The bottom line is that you need to determine whether the benefits you receive are worth leaving you feeling “handcuffed” ? The answer might be yes, and thats perfectly ok. I know many working parents who would give almost anything for flexibility they receive at their job, but aren’t necessarily as fulfilled as they would like. If you take the time to evaluate the answers to these questions and realize it’s not that bad, by all means, reap the benefits and stick it out. Enjoy the perks you are receiving. If the pros don’t outweigh the cons however, it may be time to re-evaluate. That said, it took me some time to realize that I could find another place for myself, a better, even more “Golden” Place. It’s hard to leave a good situation, and I get that. Keep in mind though, “the grass is not always greener”. Remember, you make your own luck both in life and in your career. Put the time and effort into a building your network, and you will find a job that makes you feel happy and not handcuffed!
Image courtesy of Sulaimansabrina_CD2/10′