My job situation felt like golden-handcuffs.
When someone referred to our work situation as “golden handcuffs,” I totally understood what she meant. My job was too good to leave.
When I was 18, I had a summer job at a bank. My job was to verify income claims of credit card applicants. Because of the location, I wasn’t able to get to work on my own, and I found a car pool with a lovely woman who had been at this job for a long time. Twenty years to be exact.
I could not believe it.
She had been at this job for a period of time longer than I was alive. I thought to myself, how could you possible stay in a job that long? Don’t you get bored? Didn’t she have any other options?
I don’t even remember her name, but I remembered this story and it just blew my mind. So did some of the income claims. But that’s fodder for another blog post.
Fast forward 32 years.
I was at my job for 19 years. Like the story from my carpool buddy in 1981, I just couldn’t believe it.
I was completely uncertain about where the time had gone. It shouldn’t be a mystery! But it was.
I was engaged when I started the job. I got married, had three children, took three wonderful Canadian maternity leaves, lived through too many re-organizations to remember and took a year off unpaid. That all takes time. I even had a kid graduate from high school!
I was definitely not content for at least 5 years.
The countless reorganizations had changed my job significantly. I was bored for sure. I was stuck though and very used to responding to the hand that was dealt, rather than deciding what I actually wanted.
And, I had no clue what I actually wanted. Beaten down by decades of bureaucracy, I had forgotten how to dream.
I also had definite thoughts about what it meant to be in the same job for such a long time. And they weren’t positive.
I thought that someone was more successful if they had several jobs and employers on their resume, vs being in the same job for a couple of decades.
I thought that it was self-indulgent to move on from a good job unless there was a really good plan.
And for sure I felt the burden of golden handcuffs.
There wasn’t anything really wrong with my job, I had tons of vacation time and a great pension. Is being bored a good enough reason to move on, especially once you’re in your 40s and 50s?
How did my thoughts serve me?
In my opinion, they did not. Until I received my layoff notice and the decision was made for me, I would say that I spent a lot of time being confused and wasting time.
What I know now is that it wasn’t the circumstance that was the problem – it was my thinking.
The fact that I had this employment for 19 years was neutral. The problem was what that fact meant to me. If I would have changed my thinking, it’s quite possible that I could have been more content with my job. There were certain things about it that I really did love.
I could have also changed my thinking about the concept of self-indulgence.
Perhaps if I had, I could have started the process of dreaming and really figuring out what I loved and how I could incorporate it more into my life and my life’s work.
The interesting thing is that soon after I lost my job, I was able to think outside the box and start this mind work.
That’s the type of life coaching work I do with my clients. I help them gain perspective on their minds.
I often work with super hard working women who have been at their jobs for at 10 years or more. They are stuck. They aren’t content. They have a new appreciation for life as “finite” and that they need to stop wasting time. Sometimes the solution is to change their job; sometimes it’s to keep their job. But either way, their thinking needs to change for them to be happier. Does this sound like you? I can help.
Are golden handcuffs in your wardrobe too? Check out my FREE download, 10 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Bust Out of your Midlife Funk; it will help you check in with yourself about how much you really need a change. It’s a great place to start!