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#escapemanifesto preview: The trap of the high achievers

by Dom on May 2, 2013

By now, you’re probably aware that we wrote a book (you helped!) and we’re excited to be really close to the final publish date. The Escape Manifesto (#escapemanifesto on Twitter) is the book behind the movement and is here to support, inspire and encourage us all to make big and brave transitions in our lives. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing snippets on this blog.

FROM CHAPTER 1: THE TRAVELATOR

When we were setting up Escape the City in New York we met a banker who admitted that she was probably an alcoholic and that she spent all of her money on clothes to distract herself from how much she hated her job. But she was unwilling to compromise on the salary. She was so used to jumping through the next hoop in the ladder of achievement that she said she was completely clueless as to what else she could do.

That’s the same salary that she was splurging on expensive restaurants, booze and high-end couture just to help her deal with the job itself. Is that not absolute madness? Imagine what a large escape fund she could save up in a short amount of time with that cash. She could go travelling for a year. She could start a business. Instead she was stuck in a cycle of consumption and depression.

If you are used to excelling, you usually gravitate towards the jobs where the best and brightest are meant to spend their time. Over the past two decades this has been the professional and financial services sectors – investment banks and corporate law firms.

Often the people who are the unhappiest in their jobs are those who have never failed, who have never dropped a grade. As Rob Archer, the Career Psychologist, said at a recent Escape the City event: “Being rela- tively clever and very conscientious can be a dangerous combination. It means you’ll probably be good at what you do – good enough to get by – but you will also persist and keep trying harder and harder. You will get the job done – but it may be at the expense of your values, health, or even sanity.”

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