Do you feel trapped in your job? Are you unhappy at work and feel like you have no option but to stay? You may be experiencing golden cage syndrome. It can paralyse you, keeping you from becoming the person that you are meant to be.

Golden cage syndrome?

The story is told of a wild bird that was caught and put in a golden cage. All of its needs were catered for in great style – a decent nest, regular food, entertainment, even a mate. At first, the bird resented its loss of freedom but over time it became accustomed to the comfortable lifestyle it enjoyed in the cage. One day the cage door was left open and the wild bird had the opportunity to escape. 

But it no longer wanted to. The cage had become its world and it now feared the freedom it had once enjoyed.

This is the essence of the golden cage syndrome. Like the bird, we can become trapped in circumstances we don’t like that become so familiar that we forget that we have options. And so we ignore the invitation to change and find reasons to stay exactly where we are – unhappy.

Signs of golden cage syndrome

So what keeps you slogging away in a job that you don’t like? Here are some of the signs that your work has become a golden cage for you.

  • You go to work because you have to more than because you want to. Your work seems to be about pleasing everyone else and lacks personal meaning.
  • You complain about your job, your boss, the work environment but feel powerless to make anything better.
  • Your productivity, creativity and motivation at work are all diminishing, and being at work seems to require more and more energy.
  • You find ‘reasons’ for staying. e.g. “I wouldn’t find a comparable role elsewhere.” “No one else would hire me.” “No one else can do what I can do.” “I’m only a few years away from ______.”
  • The familiarity of your current job is both comforting and stifling.
  • You are bored but don’t know what you want instead.
  • You console yourself with the perks of the job – the money, status, flexibility, security, etc. – that you would potentially lose if you moved on.

Getting out of the golden cage

Staying in a role that is no longer a good fit can do a lot of damage not just to your own well-being but also to others around you – both in your workplace and in your personal life.  It’s not worth it.

Considering so many waking hours are spent at work, wouldn’t it make sense to be in a job that you enjoy and that brings out the best of you?

If golden cage syndrome seems to fit your experience, contact Cynosure Support Services. We can help you not only recognise the open door before you but can also support you as you learn to fly again.