Golden Shackles 1

One day you might find yourself, like me, in a situation where you’re becoming more and more dissatisfied with your current career or work situation, and you’re having trouble imagining a way out.

Have you heard the term Golden Shackles to describe when you’re having zero fun at work but you’re not wanting to make a change because the job is secure, bringing in good money, and has great hours (or some other similar benefits)?

Maybe you’ve decided to put up with a boss or supervisor who is making your life miserable, or perhaps you’ve accepted a ridiculously heavy workload and long hours, because making a change seems just way too daunting.

Let’s face it, there are real and formidable economic challenges that most of us are forced to deal with. Staying in a less than ideal situation can seem unavoidable.

Over the next few blog posts I’m going to share with you five super-straightforward steps for how to free yourself from the Golden Shackles, so that you can find meaningful work, and an overall life situation that is fulfilling and rewarding. Stay tuned to this space!

Here’s your first step…


Step 1

Assess the Situation and Know that Change is Within Reach

When I was going through this situation a couple of years ago my brain was hurting from all of the ups and downs of trying to figure out what to do. I repeatedly resolved to tough it out.

I thought about how I’d stick with the job and find fulfillment in the things that I did outside of my work. I powered through. I said to myself that I was strong and resilient and that of course I could do this because I was doing well, and there was no reason to make a change.

On the other hand I’d find myself overwhelmed and burnt out by the work and often found myself being very negative about the job. Then I found myself fantasizing about a better job and feeling uplifted by thoughts of making a change. And, of course, as soon as I got excited about change, I’d remind myself that making a change was simply impractical, and hunkered down on the job to tough it out some more.

The swinging between these thought patterns became more and more intense. If you’re at this point in your life, or feeling confused and scattered by your desires and emotions, it’s time to take the first step.


The good news is that Step 1 is probably the easiest because you don’t have to DO all that much. Step 1 involves taking stock of the situation in a more or less objective way and, at the same time, reminding yourself that a solution of some kind is not only possible, but actually highly probable. Having some hope of a better situation is a powerful aid to bringing about the change you want.


So, before you make any big decisions, take some time to evaluate where you’re at. Here are a few tasks to assist you in putting the situation in perspective:

Make a list of pros & cons


What is it that you’re getting from the job (income, social connection, benefits, etc)?

What specific aspects of your work are enjoyable?

What skills are you learning or developing in your job?

What are some positive emotions that come up for you at work, or come up when you think about the work? (identifying your emotional connection to your work can be very helpful)


What specific things do you dislike about your job?

What are some of the negative emotions that are arising at work or when you think about work?

What are some negative thoughts that are circling in your mind?

How much time do you spend imagining a better job?

Make a scale

Where do you fit in? Can you imagine better? Where are you now on the scale? Where would you like to be?


Entirely Dissatisfied                                                Deeply Fulfilled


Talk to a friend or a partner

If you’re going through this time entirely on your own then you’re less likely to get out of the shackles. Sharing your situation with a trusted friend or partner is helpful on a couple of levels. You will find some clarity by having to express this in a coherent way to someone, and the other person might just have some ideas that will be helpful.

Get a Life Coach

This is exactly the kind of thing we’re here for! A life coach will walk you through your situation to guide you to the answers you’re looking for. The life coach does not give advice! The life coach helps you find your own answers.


Take your time with Step 1

Chances are you’ve been in those shackles for a while, so there’s really no hurry. Know that you’re working on a new direction, hold some hope inside for a positive outcome, and let the situation sort itself out as you take stock. When you think you’ve come to a better understanding of your situation, you can move onto Step 2 – Dream

When you work with me one on one you’ll have the opportunity to explore what matters most for you personally.


Golden Shackles 2

2 Dream

Next it’s time to dream!

When we’re in a tough situation we are inclined either to avoid dreaming about what’s possible, or to put our dreams into the Fantasy category, believing that they simply aren’t possible. At this stage you can give yourself full permission to dream as big and as crazy as you wish. 

Imagine your ideal world, with your ideal job, in the company of your perfect partner.  What is this reality that has everything you want? Don’t hold back! Let your imagination go crazy!

When you’re dreaming big you’re setting your intention for what’s next. It’s great to know clearly what your present situation is, and it’s also good to have an idea of what you really want. If you don’t know what you want, then you’ll want to spend some time on this, allowing your imagination to kick in and see what turns up.

At this stage you don’t have to be too specific. Let your imagination wander and allow yourself to consider any interests that arise. There are lots of ways to go about this, but one simple way is to look through some magazines and notice which images attract you. Take some time to explore the things that draw your attention. This is where the juice is!

Of course if you have a specific dream, absolutely go with it. Many of us harbour dreams but assume we are not capable of achieving them, or we have reasons why the dream is out of our reach. This is the time to acknowledge that your dream is valid and you can let it out of the bag.