A while ago we were approached by a lovely chap called Iain at a publishing house called Capstone. He asked us whether we would be interested in writing a book.

Write a book?! Our initial response was that we were still just starting out with Escape the City. We were hardly in a position to write a ‘how we did it’ book (à la Innocent or Zappos).

“No,” responded Iain, “I’d like to help you write something about the beliefs behind Esc – your position on careers, work and the corporate world.”

And thus the Escape Manifesto was born – our chance to have a good old-fashioned constructive rant about ‘doing something different’ – in book format!

Read on to hear our plans and for your chance to get involved.

Crowdwriting the book

Even more exciting than the opportunity to put 50,000 odd words down in print was the chance to include Escape the City members in the process.

So, a couple of months ago, we announced the project on a single Monday newsletter and invited people to help us write the book. The result? An incredible 252 people said they’d be keen to help us with the writing.

The small matter of crowd-funding £600,000 from our members over the past 3 months meant that we had to beg an extension from Iain (kindly given!). We are now on deadline for October 15th (Rob’s birthday) and we would love your help.

The book’s objectives

We want this to be the book that we had read when we were planning our own corporate escapes. It is part story, part call to action, part how-to guide…

Key ingredients:

  • Why – Why you should step off the corporate treadmill and do something different with your career.
  • Advice – How to make the transition based on what we learned from quitting our corporate jobs to start Esc.
  • Inspiration – A call to action for anyone considering making the big leap away from the corporate world.

In the comments of these blog posts please help us…

  • … explore some of the core concepts of the book
  • … flesh out the ideas with case studies and quotes
  • … understand your own career experiences

Each week we’ll post a new discussion on this blog and email the 252 manifesto volunteers to let them (you) know. Anyone is welcome to get involved though. Right, after that lengthy preamble… here is this week’s discussion point:

Why is it so easy to get stuck?

So many of us tell ourselves: “I’ll do this corporate job for 5 years and then I’ll go and do something more interesting / exciting / entrepreneurial / adventurous / meaningful* (*insert ideal career ingredient here*).

Why don’t we make good our escapes?

We play it safe to start – It often makes sense to spend some time working in big corporates – you gain valuable experience, probably earn a good salary, and get some sensible company names on your CV.

Lack of viable alternatives – Often people complain about not having ‘that start-up idea’ or not really knowing what their passion is… the result is that they’d rather not make a move until they’ve figured it out.

Too many alternatives – An interesting idea (that was addressed in this Huffington Post article) is that through travel, technology and progress there are actually so many options open to us today that we feel paralysed.

The money question – The sad truth is that it is very easy to get very used to a corporate salary. Your expenses tend to rise with your income – negating any options for escape, transition, taking risks, or trying something new.

“Responsibilities” – The other  factor is that it is much easier to change careers, start a business, or go adventuring when you don’t have a wife / husband / mortgage / kids / pet* (*insert ‘weight responsibility’ here).

Fear of starting again – It’s crazy how often people only 3, 4, 5 (or even +10) years into their careers decide that it’s too late to make a change. They feel they’re destined to be Accountants / Fund Managers / Analysts forever.

Some of are genuinely powerful reasons for people reneging on the “I’ll do this for a few years” promise that so many of us make with ourselves. If it were easy there wouldn’t be so many people feeling stuck…

What else keeps people in jobs that aren’t right for them? Please let us know what you think in the comments…

What can be done about it?

  • Save – Money gives you options. Simple as that. If you can afford to live for 12 months without a salary you can start a business, go back to school to learn new skills, or go on a big adventure.
  • Develop new skills on the side – The best way to combat the feeling of being a one-trick pony and of already being committed to your current sector / job title is to learn new stuff in and around your job.
  • Network – The best jobs aren’t on job boards. The best opportunities are made via peoples’ pre-existing networks. When you apply for a job on a job board you’re competing against 100s of others. Search differently.
  • Have limits – At work make sure to say no where possible. So many people get worked so hard by their corporate overlords that they barely have time to relax during their weeks, let alone plan an escape.
  • Take the charity days! – Dom used to say this to Rob. What he meant was: “we have 25 days holiday a year, you can ‘buy’ an extra 6, and you get 2 charity volunteering days” – take the charity days!
  • Realise how quickly time is going – Just the other day we were all fresh-faced graduates with ideals, naivety and dreams. We’re already getting grey hairs. Time is going really fast. Nuff said.
  • Accept certain things as myths 1 – There is no such thing as a world-beating Post-It style business idea. Most start-ups are derivative. You’re probably not going to build the next Facebook. Start a sensible business.
  • Accept certain things as myths 2 – There is no such thing as a Damascene ‘I’ve just realised what my passion is’ moment – and even if there was, you probably can’t build a career around it. Just do stuff you enjoy.
  • Do many things that interest you – Instead of casting around for ‘that one thing’ that will save you from the corporate grind, you should explore many different avenues and pursue those that interest you.
  • Reassess how we feel about failure / status – Many of us stay in ‘good’ jobs that we hate because of our peers, family and social expectation. Surely that’s a rubbish reason for being miserable? Make your choices your own.

What other advice or tactics could people employ to make sure they don’t get stuck in their job for years on end? Please let us know what you think in the comments…

Thanks so much for helping us write the Escape Manifesto – watch this space for the next discussion point.

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