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Why Most People Are Stuck at Their Corporate Jobs Part II

Last month I wrote about why most people feel stuck at their corporate jobs and discussed the state of helplessness most people fall into over the course of their working lives. What I did not cover was the other extreme, which pertains to people who have built up their salaries and severance packages in their corporate jobs to a comfortable enough level where they do not want to give it up.

This post was inspired by a dinner conversation I had with a Vice President in my new organization earlier this week. While having dinner, we got into talking about our hobbies and interests, and he mentioned that he and his wife love to go to the neighborhood candy store and buy candy by the scoop. They enjoy the activity and the process just as much they enjoy eating the actual candy. He mentioned that he and his wife once contemplated investing in a small store and running the day to day operations together.

So I asked what happened to that thought. And as expected, he mentioned that both he and his wife were not willing to give up their salaries in their corporate jobs to pursue the business venture. When I look at this guy, I see a man who is out of shape, has gained 20+ pounds since taking up this job (he really didn’t have many other options at the time), he spends most of his life on the road away from his wife (and he misses here while he is away), and appears to be doing something that he really does not enjoy. But that isn’t a surprise is it? Research has shown that most people do not like their corporate jobs, and many amongst those actually hate their jobs.

His wife on the other hand, he claims, enjoys what she does. I do not know his wife, but I do know that all coins have two sides. So what kind of salaries are we talking about here if they were to give it up and pursue what really makes them happy? He earns roughly in the $130,000 – 140,000 range and in my estimate she earns around $70,000. Together they bring home a combined annual income of $200,000 to $210,000, a bit over 4 times the National Average.

I can see why they are having a difficult time saying good bye to their corporate jobs. But are they happy with their lives? I suspect not, just like the majority out there. This is a good example of what happens when one clearly does not contemplate their life plan and fall victim to their salaries (“business plan”).

Another reason this couple has a hard time giving up their income is because of the lifestyle they have become accustomed to. This couple does not cook at home at all, and spends a good portion of their income on day to day bills. In business terms, their overhead or working capital needed to run their household is relatively high. For example, they have a swimming pool that they do not use (they are rarely home) but pay a good sum to maintain, a few hundred dollar monthly TV bill that includes state of the art programming and technology, etc and etc.

I wouldn’t say they are living beyond their means. They save quite a bit, but they also spend quite a bit on expenses they can live without. So while opening and running a Candy shop together is their dream and what will truly make them happy, they are not willing to give up their corporate jobs to pursue their dream. Like many others, they probably have the illusion that they need every penny of what they earn to cover their monthly expenses and still save some left over. I can say with confidence that they are not the only ones in this predicament.

So while my previous post on why most people feel stuck at their corporate jobs covered the necessity side of things (meeting the basic needs of individuals), this scenario covers the opposite end of the spectrum. This is a situation where the couple is working not because they have to work in these specific jobs to make ends meet, rather because they have built up their salaries and severance packages over time to a comfortable enough level where they are not willing to give it up.

This dilemma, as you can likely extrapolate, is what precludes many aspiring entrepreneurs from taking that dive and pursuing their passion. It is very difficult to say good bye to a healthy pay-check or a steady stream of cash flow from corporate jobs. Thanks to technology and the world we live in today, starting a business on the side is not as difficult as it once was. This has given many enterprising individuals the opportunity to experiment with their side gigs while maintaining a full time career.

But even then, most people end up doing nothing. Why? It is because of yet another factor that plays into the equation, and that is the trade-off between spending the spare or extra time on a side business rather than spending it with family and friends.   At the end of the day, we all have 24 hours each day and we have to prioritize what’s most important to us and need be done within those 24 hours.

The same can be said for taking time to adapt a healthy diet such as snacking throughout the day rather than eating 3 big meals, exercising regularly to get or stay in shape, taking time to do community service, etc. All these activities take time to incorporate in our day to day lives. When we have corporate jobs that require us to work 8 to 10 hours a day plus commute for another hour or two, we are not left with much spare time. Remember, we also have to sleep and respond to mother nature when she calls.

This is a critical topic and I plan on discussing the trade-offs between choosing to work on a side business over spending time on any of the activities mentioned above in a future post.


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