Escape: Avoiding Feeling Trapped at Work

Posted: Jul 08, 2015 12:01 AM
Escape: Avoiding Feeling Trapped at Work

Ever complain about your job? Odds are that within seconds, someone will remind you that you should be happy to be employed at all. However, a recent Right Management study still found lots of dissatisfaction. When asked, "Do you feel trapped at work? Have you ever wanted to find a new position?", 63 percent of workers agreed. Another 21 percent said they somewhat agreed. That's 84 percent of workers! This reminds me of an article that I saw in the San Francisco Chronicle about young professionals who chose to live in RVs or their cars instead of apartments.

Living in your vehicle sounds like a choice for someone who is unemployed, not working for a high-flying startup. But at least you won't feel trapped. Heck, you can just start it up and move on. But for all of those readers who still dwell in a house or apartment, I've got four strategies to avoid feeling trapped.

-- Challenge your comfort zone. Sure, there are people who like the rush of visiting war zones, playing poker professionally or juggling chainsaws, but most of us crave safety. sometimes that feeling of being trapped at work comes directly from the person you see in the mirror each morning. Learn how to leave your comfort zone and you may find that you can feel less stifled each day without even changing jobs.

-- Ask "What if ..." questions. I once read about a guy who said he had 19 years of experience. Someone asked, "Was it 19 years of experience, or one year 19 times?" If you're stuck in a 19-year rut, or even a 19-day rut, try getting creative. Asking "What if ..." questions is the best way to keep your mind engaged and active at work. Yes, there will be frustration, dead-ends and bruises. But asking could also lead to great ideas.

-- Network. Networking is hallowed turf to me. Or as someone once said, "Know-how is important. Know-why is even better. But best of all is Know-who." Networking is the best way to explore all of life's opportunities, because the people who know you are often full of amazing possibilities.

-- Pursue a new skill. I've known a lot of people who reinvent themselves on the company's dime. You know those training classes that most people avoid like the plague? Or the tuition credits that most people treat like a virus? I'm constantly on the lookout for new ways to add to my skill set, and you should be, too. Who knows, the same company that makes you feel trapped could offer you all the training that you need to allow you to escape its clutches. How cool is that?

Some people go even beyond the RV, like Todd Iceton. He worked for a startup and lived in his car for two years. He's now in an apartment because, "After two years, even something strange becomes old." Even the best job gets old, too; that's why a new start begins with you.


-- Challenge your comfort zone.

-- Ask "What if ..." questions.

-- Network.

-- Pursue a new skill.


From Professors Arum and Rokska

Is College Worth the Time and Effort?

-- Of the 2,300 college students tracked, 45 percent demonstrated no significant improvement in critical thinking after two years of college.

-- The average college student only spends 9 percent of his or her time studying, much less than in previous decades.


"Worry compounds the futility of being trapped on a dead-end street. Thinking opens new avenues." -- Cullen Hightower