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Is your career stalling? Here’s how to break free from the golden cage

The golden cage is the phenomenon where, as an employee, you remain in your job for years, even if you are not satisfied. The job no longer nurtures your passion or provides fulfilment. Then why do you linger in this situation? How do you recognize this cage? And, more importantly, how can you escape? International recruitment agency Robert Walters explains.

How do you get stuck in a golden cage?

The most common reason why you end up in a golden cage is the fear of change. The comfort zone of a familiar environment strongly hinders the motivation to try something new, even if the current environment is not satisfactory. The saying 'the grass is not always greener on the other side' often resonates, causing the fear of a new job that may not be as good a fit to make you stay where you are.

Financial security can also be a motivator to stay in your job. Your current employer offers an attractive salary package, and you are not willing to compromise on salary, even if it comes at the expense of your job satisfaction.

You might find yourself in a golden cage because you doubt your capabilities. You feel insecure about yourself and do not believe that you can be successful elsewhere. Therefore, staying seems like the safest choice.

Finally, you may be a creature of habit: you resign yourself to an unsatisfactory situation without considering options for something new.

Signs of a golden cage

Have you been in the same job for several years? As long as you are satisfied with your work and career, there is nothing alarming about it. But if you have doubts and are often dissatisfied, pay attention to these signs:

  • You have few future prospects professionally
  • You feel no motivation or passion
  • You dread Monday mornings
  • You avoid talking about your work at home.
  • You regularly browse job listings in your region without taking concrete steps.

If you recognize yourself in these, you may be trapped in a golden cage.

Breaking free

The golden cage does not have to be the final destination. With a few conscious steps, you can escape this situation and pursue a satisfying career:

Engage in self-reflection: Take the time to understand your own needs and desires. What truly drives you, and where does your passion lie? By precisely knowing what you miss in your current job, you can actively search for a better match.

Get informed: Listen to as many colleagues and acquaintances from different industries as possible. The more you learn about the career paths of others, the more inspiration you can gain for your own career. Moreover, you might come across interesting opportunities. If you primarily stick with your current employer because of your salary, use an online salary guide to compare your salary and discover your worth.

Develop your skills: Improving or expanding your skillset can be a good first step towards change. Enhancing your skills lowers the barrier to changing jobs, boosts your self-confidence, and opens new doors on your career path.

Be courageous: Open yourself up to new opportunities and do not be afraid to take a leap. Leaving a familiar environment can be scary, but sometimes it's exactly what you need.


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