The Escape Manifesto – Discussion #9: The Travelator – so many on it, so many want to get off!

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 #8: Please comment on our chapter structure. Thank you for some great comments.

This week we’d like to ask you what you think of the ideas for Chapter 2…

The Travelator

EDUCATION, CAREER, CORPORATE – it’s a familiar & well-trodden path.

We want Chapter 2 to be an exploration of the traditional path that so many of us are on. Why is it so unfulfilling for so many people?

Below are my rough notes for a chapter structure. Each bullet point is a ‘manifesto point’ to be expanded on.

Please share your overall thoughts on the flow and content as well as specific examples for any of the points.

Chapter Objective…

Describe the conventional career path that most of us are on. Be fair but critical. Represent the escape mentality. Use lots of case studies. Highlight the common themes. Explain how this world works.

Hold off the decisions to escape (leave that for moments of truth) but explore all the positives and negatives of the conformist path. Why do so many people go down this path? Why does it not work for masses of them?

Section 1. Why do so many of us tread this path?

  • We’ve been taught to be cogs
  • The trap of the high achievers
  • Don’t be an accidental
  • DEBT
  • Active choices vs semi-automatic choices
  • Too many one-dimensional definitions of success

Section 2. The Emperor’s new clothes and reality of corporate world.

  • Reality of big corporates
  • The emperor’s clothes
  • Manic busyness
  • The conventional path makes so many people unhappy

Section 3. Judgement: the travelator in the dock (good & bad)

  • Our bodies aren’t designed for this punishment
  • Hard to be yourself

Section 4. Why do so many people want to flee? PUSH / PULL

  • Why so unfulfilling?
  • Aspirations are changing, institutions not keeping up
  • Institutions and leaders are failing us
  • Most jobs are spiritually empty
  • Proper value isn’t just profit

What are you going to do about it?

  • We are all too risk averse
  • That’s just the way things are is a rubbish excuse

Please share – the more the merrier.

Do you have any case studies, books, quotes, or personal experiences are relevant to this structure? Either comment below or drop us an email to team@escapethecity.org.

All comments and ideas gratefully received.

Have a great weekend and thank you in advance!

Rob & the rest of the Escape Team.


  • http://Www.themilnerguide.com Victoria

    Hi, I feel compelled to respond given my own situation. I’ve been on the wheel (and in truth there are things I miss about that) but a 12 month sabbatical in 2010 was the catalyst for me to start my own travel website and ‘live the dream’. I should point out that my wonderful husband is basically supporting me whilst I make the business financially sustainable and work out the direction I want to take it. Happy to share my case study if you’d like to get in touch.
    All the best,

    • Adele

      Hi Victoria, we’d love to hear more – do you want to email me and I can show you how to set up a Hero profile? Thanks – adele@escapethecity.org

  • http://www.maxwellinever.co.uk/http://www.nixonmcinnes.co.uk Max

    I’ve escaped into a democratically-run company with a completely flexible working arrangement and the ability to make the role (and my future) what I want it to be.

    Working here has opened my eyes to the ‘third way’ – not staying on the mega-corp travelator or taking the risk of starting out on my own but going somewhere where I really count, and I have control over my working/non-working life.

    It has its downs as well as its ups but having worked as a ‘cog’ for big business, experienced start-up life where I still had to relinquish control to the owners and freelancing not knowing where my next job would come from, this is the best arrangement of them all, particularly having recently become a parent.

    Happy to talk more, share links etc.


    • http://londoniknow.wordpress.com Lola

      this sounds interesting, Max! i am also a parent and also don’t feel i want to do freelancing or start ups at this stage. would you mind sharing how you found this company and whether you had to jump industries/ sectors? many thanks!

  • http://freshairbtn.co,uk Karen Macmillan

    I think Lack of alternative Role Models fits into Section 1 too – or lack of awareness of other options

  • http://londoniknow.wordpress.com Lola

    daft question alert- what is ‘the travelator’?

    for section 1, i’d add something listed under section 4 – not enough role models, people who do something different. i wonder if this perhaps ties into the generation differences? baby boomers used to choose one company that paid well, stay loyal, not deviate too much from the common path, consume consume consume.

    Seth Godin said it all in Stop Stealing Dreams…

    for section 2, i’d add the politics and ‘the game’ in the corporates. not the best and hard working ones get promoted, but the ones who play ‘the game’. it’s all about appearances, perceptions and presentations.

    finally, i think section 4 onwards would be more logical as part of chapter 3, not here.

    hope it helps!

  • http://londoniknow.wordpress.com Lola

    busyness is a good point. for me personally it kept me away from thinking about ‘what’s next’ for a couple of years. read a good post on this recently, sharing the link http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2012/08/21/why-being-busy-can-keep-you-from-getting-ahead/

  • Nathalie

    For section 1, it’s not just being a ‘cog’ or following what is normal… it’s also about the lack of alternatives that are proposed or exist. And, if they do exist, they are typically looked down upon in the UK. In Switzerland, where I live, there are more opportunities for apprenticeships, internships etc, which allows for people to see more of the world before hopping onto the part of the ‘corporate world.’

  • Jerry Beck

    RE: The Travelator and its semi-automatic nature:

    In my case: In grade school we were taught that a 4-year degree was essential for success. In high school, we were taught that the more prestigious the university, the better your life would be. Only losers didn’t attend university. The higher the salary, the more respectable, worthy, and happy the person. In college, we were taught that the bigger the corporation you worked for, the richer, happier, and more respected you would be. Our undergrad courses were visited by recent grads in suits who worked for accounting firms, etc and everyone looked up to them. Students who did not want high-prestige jobs out of the gate were deemed by the professors to be losers, misguided, and inherent poor performers. We are conditioned from an early age to strive for the large corporate path, and our parents can be particularly forceful drivers of this messaging whether or not we are aware of it. The messaging feeds itself by pervading all academic, family, and social aspects of society.