Picking the Locks of the Golden Handcuffs

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Picking the Locks of the Golden HandcuffsHave you ever heard someone use the phrase “golden handcuffs”?

It’s what people say when they mean they’re feeling trapped in a job they don’t enjoy, but they stay because it pays so well.

I see it a lot and I truly empathize with the brave folks who stick it out when they wish they could be somewhere else.

The interesting thing is, what may seem like “golden handcuffs” of good pay, may actually be only an illusion. Sometimes, after subtracting the hidden costs of having the job, the pay isn’t quite as high as it seems.

A long daily commute, for example, adds a lot of hidden paycheck-eating costs many people never take into consideration. There’s the higher cost of fuel. And depending on where you live, what year it is, and what kind of car you drive, filling the tank can take a sizeable chunk out of a well-earned paycheck.

However, that’s just the obvious cost. There’s also the less obvious cost of accelerated wear and tear on the car due to the increased mileage. And higher mileage can also mean higher maintenance costs like oil changes, new tires, routine checkups, and even breakdowns.

But, the biggest hidden cost of a long commute is the loss of something we can never replace:


Long commutes mean less time to make (and enjoy) meals. So that may mean eating out more. And worse, longer commutes mean less time to spend with family and actually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Yes, hidden costs are everywhere. (And it’s not always a simple matter of just seeing where you can save a few dollars here or there.)

Sometimes hidden costs may indicate it’s time for a complete change.

So, if you feel you are locked in “golden handcuffs” right now, I encourage you to take a good look at your finances and see if you can find any costs you may have overlooked.

And if you find you are losing more of your paycheck than you thought, perhaps it’s time to “pick the golden lock” and free yourself to find a job that you would truly enjoy – one that may not pay as much, but doesn’t have the hidden costs or come with handcuffs.

In the end, you just may discover you’ll bring home almost the same amount of money as your old job. You’ll just be happier.

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Alan Carniol

Alan is the creator of Interview Success Formula, a training program that has helped more than 40,000 job seekers to ace their interviews and land the jobs they deserve. Interviewers love asking curveball questions to weed out job seekers. But the truth is, most of these questions are asking about a few key areas. Learn more about how to outsmart tough interviewers by watching this video.