For the majority of people entering the workforce, the main objective is quite simple. Get as high of paying job as possible, and enjoy. This is a point, everyone, at some point, works their entire career to get to. However, there is a dark side to it. The golden handcuffs. This is a situation where once you get to an income point in a job, you become locked into that job. This is a common syndrome facing many, and today, we’re going to delve into it!

What Are Golden Handcuffs

Properly defined, golden handcuffs are a situation when an employee reaches a salary point where it’s too hard to leave. Today, you can readily find examples of this in Silicon Valley at most major companies. This salary point creates a comfortable, cushy existence where you can live a great life. That’s the gold part. Despite how enticing this may seem on the outside, this does bring problems.

This comfortability comes at the cost of growth. People tend to get in these positions and become less risk prone, and more concerned about maintaining the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to. Even worse, from said comfortability, most create lifestyles where they can’t afford to make a certain amount of money or their lives will fall apart. That’s the handcuffs.

My Story

Having a long-standing career in tech has been transformative in my life. I’ve been able to travel, meet people, and experience things I can’t say I would’ve been afforded if I was in a different field. I am truly grateful for all the opportunities this industry has given me. However, at the same time, these opportunities do eventually become roadblocks for the next leg of career and life.

For me, my golden handcuffs came from working in Silicon Valley at top tech companies. The salary packages were great, but I got so engulfed by them, that I passed up on some great opportunities. Now that I’m a bit older, and outside the Silicon Valley bubble, I see the importance of other aspects of compensation outside dollar amounts. Ranging from quality amounts of equity to fulfillment in what I’m doing.

How To Know It’s Time To Break Free

Taking a deep breath and analyzing your career is difficult. It takes being self accountable, acknowledging goals accomplished and missed, and where is it you want to end up at the end of your career. Once you do that, you’ll feel one of two things. Either you’ll find yourself content in the corporate heirarchy you find yourself in, or you’ll long for more. If you find yourself longing for more(fulfilment, equity, career advacement, meaningful work) then you’re at the time where you need to break your cuffs.

This isn’t a bad thing, by any means, more of an acklowledgement. Stating to yourself you’re ready to take a next leap in your career and life, and hopefully, put yourself in a position to set you up better long-term than any “golden handcuffed” position could ever do.

In Closing

Golden Handcuffs are a blessing and curse. You get to a point in your career and salary progression where you finally have some freedom and cushion in life. This easily puts any person in a state of comfort and complacency. While for some the cushiness is solid and an easy ride to retirement, it’s not for everyone. Others want to take a chance on themselves, and put in the effort to fully fulfil what they want in their career and push for a better tomorrow.

In the follow up article to this, we’ll go over ways to navigate breaking your golden handcuffs and getting to that brighter tomorrow. Wrist accessory free!