Accustomed to Your Miserable Job? Here’s How to Tell If You Have ‘Golden Handcuffs’ Syndrome
Do any of these statements apply to you?
- I’m counting the months/years until I retire.
- I hate my job, but love the income.
- My job situation is bound to get better if I just hang in there.
- I may not like my current career, but I know I’m good at it.
- I’m constantly worried about my position being eliminated.
- I’ve lost interest in my work, but I enjoy the camaraderie of the people.
- My associates know the caliber of my work. I don’t have to keep proving myself.
- The chances of my finding a job I will truly enjoy are slim to none.
- When friends talk about their new careers, I wish I had the courage to make a change as well.
- Changing careers is much riskier than staying where I am.
- I doubt I can find an equivalent position at another company.
- I would rather swim with sharks than start a job search.
- I tend to focus on the negatives of a career change, rather than contemplating the positives.
- My family and friends think I’m in the catbird seat. They tell me I’d be crazy to make a change.
- Work isn’t meant to be satisfying. That’s why it’s called “work.”
If you checked one or two of these statements, you may have just had a bad day; if you checked several, you’re probably stuck in the rut of “comfortable misery.”
Those who suffer from this malady go through the motions of completing their projects and daily tasks but experience little satisfaction or sense of accomplishment.
So, why do professionals cling to their hated occupations? There are many reasons:
- Many talented professionals question their marketability. Often they’ve been employed by one company for a number of years and find it difficult to believe anyone else will hire them. They may also have no understanding of how their skills and experience can transfer to the world beyond their current company.
- Optimists and pessimists alike tend to embrace the status quo. Optimists are sure things will get better if they stick around long enough; pessimists assume there are no truly satisfying positions anywhere, so why expend the effort looking for one?
- “Golden Handcuffs” account for a lot of the “comfortable misery.” A prestigious company, attractive compensation package, impressive title, and the promise of more to come keep people from leaving jobs they hate.
- When a person is frustrated and unmotivated by their position, simply doing the job can sap their strength. When just showing up at work each day is a major effort, just imagining the search for another job adds to the mental fatigue.
- Feedback from trusted others can cause us to rely on the status quo instead of pursuing something better. It is common for people to stay in jobs they hate because their friends and family question their motives for leaving.
- A comfortable work environment that doesn’t expect too much, appreciates your work, and surrounds you with friendly colleagues can be a very enticing place, even when the job leaves much to be desired.
Lots of professionals stay where they are because they can’t face the prospect of looking for a new opportunity. A job search is hard work and often full of rejection. Unless a merger or downsizing forces them into it, a number of dissatisfied careerists will sacrifice long-term gain to avoid short-term pain.