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Does work feel like being in jail? Here’s how to get out of it.

Dear Coach Joan,

I have a good job, but honestly, I am bored and ready to quit. I work for a large, well run company and have full benefits.

My work is in the financial area and although I’m competent in it, I feel like I’m just counting my weeks, months and years to retirement. My spouse would prefer I stay at the job as I am the main bread winner.  She doesn’t want to risk financial insecurity for our family. I tend to agree, but lately I have feelings that I am actually in a prison cell.  I feel locked in and more miserable as each day passes.

Any advice?

Thank you,



Dear Richard,

I am sorry for your boredom and discontent. You are basically in a rut and feeling burned out. Yes, this is a career liability and many of us have felt that way.

But let me start with a question: Have you ever heard the expression that the purpose of travel is not necessarily to see new places but to come home and see things with new, fresh eyes?

That’s the approach I’m going to suggest you take. You work in a LARGE company. That means there are many different departments and areas to work in. Your speciality is finance and finance is involved in many areas of running any company and any department. That alone tells me that you most probably have transferable skills. And that you are currently in a comfort zone that you are outgrowing . You are yearning for MORE and you are not seeing that MORE might be in your own backyard, in your current company!

Your situation reminds me of a client who came to me after 20+ years when she was offered a lucrative buy-out package. Like you, she was also bored, but she was concerned that she might be sorry in the long run if she took the package.

In working with her we discovered that she had started at the company with tremendous excitement, respecting the organization and feeling inspired to make her contribution. And she earned several promotions. But in the last few years, like you, she felt bored and actually used your same words of feeling like she was in prison!! I think prison is a good metaphor for feeling locked in and unhappy. It also means that you have outgrown your job and need to have the courage to leave your comfort zone.

Meantime, I helped her to open her eyes to other skills and strengths she might have and to bring those to informational interviews within her own company. She had been ‘blind’ to the opportunities right in her own company because she was so used to being there that she really forgot she could knock on those doors! But when she did, she found that there were some really interesting managers and interesting projects that could use the skills and strengths she hadn’t had a chance to express in her current job. And here’s a key consideration, Richard, if you have developed a good reputation over the years, the likelihood of being attractive to another manager within the company is quite high as you are a known and trusted entity.

My suggestion to you is to do an inventory of the skills and accomplishments you posses, even the ones that haven’t been expressed on the job but perhaps are shown in your personal interests. They could be things like being a good writer, being a coach to a sports team or skills as a trainer or teacher.

So put together an updated resume, and explore other parts of your company. Much easier to relocate within your ‘home’ company than move to a new organization where you need to start over in building longevity and benefits.

Onward to new beginnings for you, Richard! Time to leave that comfort zone behind, and do a ‘prison escape’ to a great new opportunity!!


Coach Joan

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