The Escape Manifesto – Discussion #8: Please comment on our chapter structure.

We are writing a book.

It’s called The Escape Manifesto. We are on deadline for October 15th.

We have an engaged group of 200 volunteers helping us with their perspectives and advice in the comments on these posts.

Our last book post was Discussion #7: What do you wish you had known 5 years ago? Thank you for some great comments.

This week we’d like to ask you what you think of the proposed chapter structure…





Why do we work? What is meaningful work?


Explore the traditional path that so many of us are on. Why is it so unfulfilling for so many people?


What are those specific moments when people realise – you know what, this isn’t for me! How to manufacture moments of truth?


How to make the change between very different environments.


Anything to do with money and escaping. Saving, funding things.


What are the false beliefs and real reasons that keep people in jobs that aren’t right for them? Why do so many people feel stuck?


Advice for finding a job that YOU find exciting.


Advice for leaving your job and starting a business.


Inspiration for taking time out for a big adventure.


Specific tactics for making big career and life changes.


‘Do Something Different’ as a strategy for life and career.

Please tell us…

Which chapters resonate most with you?

Within the chapters – what specifically would you be interested in reading about?

Do you have any case studies, books, quotes, or personal experiences are relevant to this structure? Please share – the more the merrier.

All comments and ideas gratefully received.

Have a great weekend and thank you in advance!

Rob & the rest of the Escape Team.


  • Adele


    What are those specific moments when people realise – you know what, this isn’t for me! How to manufacture moments of truth?

    Check out Mat Powell’s moment of truth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9g1RdS1cvo&feature=plcp


    What are the false beliefs and real reasons that keep people in jobs that aren’t right for them? Why do so many people feel stuck?

    Some great stuff from Rob Archer (who we’re running an event with on Sept 11): http://www.thecareerpsychologist.com/2012/06/a-word-on-your-mind-1/

    If the objective of your career change is greater fulfilment then your mind is not your enemy, but it is not your friend.
    Your mind is there to ensure you are safe, not fulfilled.
    Anxiety, uncertainty, doubt, fear – all of these are guaranteed if you stray from the familiar path. (Mind you, they are guaranteed if you do not stray as well, but that’s another post).
    Your mind will tell you that the world is as it says it is. Much better to be like that and ensure that quick, clear decisions are made than be left uncertain and unsure how to act (which is a recipe for being eaten by Lions). This shortcut has ensured your survival and it is not going to give that up now, so thoughts present themselves as reality.
    Your mind will present anxiety, doubt, fear etc as indications that you are going the wrong way. Whilst this is useful when there may be an actual Lion round the next bush, if your journey is about moving to a more fulfilling career they are less useful emotions to have. Yet it is hard for the mind to differentiate between the two.
    The more you try not to think about a particular thought, the more often you will have it. With minds, if you don’t want it, you tend to get it (source: Dan Wegner).

  • Roz

    The book sounds great! Chapter 7 and 8 are probably most relevant to me now. I read a book recently that I have found helpful & deals with similar issues and ideas – How to Find Fulflling Work, by Roman Krznaric. It also mentions Rob Archer’s own experience (small world!). Keep up the good work! :-)

  • http://www.wordsanddeeds.co.uk Debra

    One observation, based on the chapter titles/outlines: would a more logical position for Chapter 6 be directly after Chapter 3? The moment of truth, followed by what holds people back, followed by how to make the transition. This could then be followed by the chapter on money; then the chapters on options.
    And if it needs proofreading, I’m there – that’s how I (finally) escaped!

    • http://escapethecity.org/ Rob

      Hi Debra – great point.
      I think you’re right.
      PS. Come and share your escape story on our site one day?!

  • Stacey Gledhill

    I can pinpoint two very clear moments of truth I had before escaping. I was working on a very casual basis (and paid cash weekly) as an ‘intern’ at a very small company that developed small scale UK onshore wind farms. The people were pleasant, the work more interesting than some jobs I’ve had, but there were days when I just couldnt stand to be there and it felt like I was pretending. My mind constantly wandered. One day I recieved a call from a headhunter, who was asking if I was interested in other similar roles. We got chatting and he asked me specifically “well, what is it you enjoy about your current role?” To which I had no good answer!

    The second moment was when I was finally sat down and offered a contract and a proper salary, after weeks of being a casually paid intern. I read the contract and my heart sank with each paragraph. I found it so hard to focus at the job because my heart wasnt in it, so the exact line that got me was “the Employee shall devote the whole of his working time, attention and abilities to the business and interests of the Employer and shall well and faithfully serve the Employer”. I read that and knew I couldnt sign it! I gave my notice the next week. Seemed scary and big at the time but now I know it was the right thing. (incidently, now I am doing something completely different – cooking in a restaurant – for much less pay but get so much more out of it I couldnt imagine going back)

  • Vic

    Moments of truth – I’ve been working now for five years for an international law firm. Nice pay, nice apartment, good career opportunities within the firm – and never been that miserable before.
    It was quite hard to find a way out since one always tries to justify one’s current situation because we are afraid of change, of uncertainty plus everybody is telling you that you shouldn’t be ungrateful since you’ve got everything.
    I had several moments of truth but the first was when I finally got admitted to the Bar. After years of mandatory stuff, exams, etc. I finally made it, I was now a fully licensed lawyer. First, I was happy, so I went for drinks, partying, etc. but then I woke up in the middle of the night and was more miserable then ever before: now, I had no excuses anymore. In the past, when I was complaining about my life (which I did a lot), I always said “yeah, but you know, I have to stay until I finish my Bar exams”. Now, I had to admit that I was were I was because I had absolutely no idea what to do with my life and that’s pretty scary.
    I think that’s the hardest part: find out what you really want in life, since the system is designed to make you forget (get a job, get a house, a car and then you will be happy, ummmh, not sure).
    escapethecity.org was really an eye opener (thanks so much!) since I realised that there were plenty of peolpe out there having the same problem and it made me start to seriously look for alternatives.
    Now, one year later, I will leave my job in two weeks and I am off to South America. I will be writing (passion) and volunteer (so much in need to do something useful after having worked five years for banks).
    I’m still scared (money question, mainly) but confident as well. But there is no other choice because my current work is so time consuming that it literally eats up your brain and leaves no space for creativity to do something else so that I can’t develop a side project. I don’t have a real plan but there is no other choice and, for the first time, it feels totally right.
    Your book content looks great to me. One thought: I would also include a chapter (in case it will not be covered in moments of truth or elsewhere) about getting aware of your (unhappy) situation, realising what’s the real reason why you are just commuting between the office and the bar next door and to find out what you really want and are capable to do. To help thinking beyond the system and not only within the classic options (e.g. going to work for a bank instead – better working hours but still absolutely not meaningful) but to find your own way which feels right for you, even if everybody tells you that you are being crazy and unreasonable. And of course, to use your time wisely since, as you say, life is short.

  • Victoria D

    My first thought in reading the chapter list is the order seemed a bit off. I know if seems to make sense to talk about point A (where you are now) before getting to point B (where you want to get to)… but the title of the book is the Escape manifesto… so I’d start with what escaping means – the point B – where we all want to get there… maybe the moments of truth… the solution… followed by defining the problem – the myths and blockers… then go back to a clearer definition of where you are now – why we work… and the “travelator” – not sure what this is other than the traditional route to growing up? Now you’ve defined where people want to get to and why they have been raised to not be able to get there and then you go into the solution – the strategy/tactics to get from point A – where you are now; to point B – your goal. The process of getting from A to B probably begins with chapter 7 – finding an exciting job… and Chapter 10 – figuring our for yourself where point B really is… then maybe chapter 9 – go on a big adventure as a way of helping to define the exciting job… and chapter 11 – both seem ways of figuring out your goal… then the tactics of money, transitioning from corporate, start your own business. I’m assuming you are providing lots of examples throughout… if not… I suppose ending with examples of people who have already gotten there – maybe even the what do I wish I knew 5 years ago… to create some urgency or impetus to get started…

  • http://londoniknow.wordpress.com Lola

    Looks good! I am really looking forward to Chapter 7. I would rephrase it though – from ‘Advice for finding a job that YOU find exciting’ into ‘How to find a job that you love, not the one that you are good at’.

    This chapter should be very action oriented and provide good resources. Please avoid cliches (it’s obvious we need to network, but how, how do you do this, where do you start?) and please go into detail with sleeves rolled up – help us, coach us, readers, on how to build an actionable plan and start acting (it’s all about small steps…)

    For me, the moment of truth was when I overcame ‘busyness’ and achieved some degree of work life balance, during mat leave. I had the time and energy to have a global view of my life and career. Interestingly I must have hit the ‘10000 hours’ threshold when you get really good at whatever you have been doing. However because I am doing what I do not love, boredom hit big time. So for me the moment of truth was realising how bored I am.

    Also you know what they say about ‘Christ’s age’ – 33 years old. You sort of think at this age Christ has already built the movement, done amazing things, what are you doing with your life? No pressure…

    Books that helped me – Getting Things Done by David Allen for achieving life work balance and finally getting a handle of time management. Just Do It by Ali Campbell – very motivational and action oriented book, still reading it. Seth Godin’s blog posts and his Stop Stealing Dreams. Also next on my list is The Rise of Creative Class by Richard Florida, should be interesting too as it’s all about how economy is going to be moved forward by the generation of artists rather than industrial conveyor workers.