The hidden factor that's stopped you escaping your job - and how to fix it

If you've begun your journey to do something more interesting with your life and "get paid to play", there will be times when the going gets tough. Have you found yourself losing momentum, getting disheartened? Or worse still, quietly discovered a month has gone by without progressing anything?

What's your reaction to this? Give yourself a hard time for lack of self-discipline? Tell yourself next week will be different? Promise you'll get back into it and get going again?

Stop!

Chances are that it's not lack of self-discipline but lack of support that's holding you back. It's a particularly destructive modern myth that we should be able to sit at home after work, on our own, with great self-discipline and unwavering motivation to keep going and progress our projects.

There's one small snag with this: human beings don't work that way.

We are social animals. We take our cues (and to a certain extent, our values) from the culture around us. We work well within a community or team or village. We are motivated by the demands and expectations of the social group we are immersed in. That's how we're built.

The good news is that you can choose the social group you immerse yourself in.

If you hang out with people who are bored of their job and spend their free time moaning about it, you're likely to get sucked into doing the same. You may not be able to change your career right away but you can start to change the social environment you are in.

Here's a discussion I often have with my 1 to 1 clients who are keen to escape the world of jobs and do something more creative:

Me: "So are any of your friends self-employed or running businesses?"

Client: "No"

"Are any of them involved in creative projects outside of work? Writing a book, making a film, running a campaign of some sort?"

"No"

Are any of them even involved in starting something in their spare time?

"No"

"Then unless you find yourself a new social circle you will never escape that job."

[Look of deep concern on client's face!]

If what you hear and read every single day are stories of people unhappy in their work who believe there is no other option, you would need Herculean strength of character to remain optimistic and self-disciplined about your escape.

It's time to immerse yourself in a more supportive culture. These are the kind of things I recommend to my clients:

  1. Read books that encourage you in your mission. Start by  downloading chapter 1 of my book Screw Work Let's Play and ordering your copy here.
  2. Go to talks, events, meetups, workshops and conferences about your topic of interest. Remember that attending is as much about the atmosphere you soak up (of creativity, entrepreneurship, possibility, and creating the life you want) as the topic being discussed.
  3. If you're in London, come to my monthly event for ideas people, Scanners Night. Also, go to Meetup.com and enter your location and a search term (Eg creativity, entrepreneurship, writers, wealth, property etc) and be amazed at how many ways there are to meet people with the same objectives as you.
  4. Build your own support team - see Secret 4: How to guarantee your success in Screw Work Let's Play. You can start simply by finding one positively minded person to meet up with every couple of weeks. Set each other tasks to do, encourage and hold each other accountable to making your projects happen. You might also consider hiring a coach or mentor to keep you on track. This is obviously more expensive but should repay itself in speed of progress. (You can read how I work with clients here).

Do something today to build a more supportive environment for yourself and you'll start making some real progress on escaping that job.

Let me know how you get on in the comments - and tell me if there's something else you've done which I should add to this list.

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Hi, Interesting post and I must admit the idea about the people you socialize with having an effect on your progress hit a nerve. I am someone who gets totally enthusiastic about an idea but could really do with meeting like minded people who can help - pin me down to an idea (+ encouragement) and for whom I could the same thing. I have taken your advice and joined the local meetup although I am not sure how active it is. I have your book on pre order but would also love to hear your other recommendations. I look forward to reading further posts.

  • Hi Tara, what you need is a meetup that has a good number of members and has regular (eg monthly meetings) listed. Other ideas are talks and networking events, conferences, and workshops in the subject you're interested in.
    John