Breaking Free from Golden Handcuffs: Unlocking Your Career Potential

You just graduated, did all the hard work and finally got offered a job with a excellent pay and excellent benefits or finally got the sublease. Fast forward five years: you are stuck in the same office with a salary that’s a bit better than before, work life balance has slowly changed over the years, dealing with the same patients; no learning, no excitement, and you don’t have the same fire to pursue your dreams. The comfort and stability of this life have made it impossible for you to let go of all the perks and start your own optometry business, buy a practice or pursue other goals in the industry. This well-crafted corporate strategy to make employees a part of the matrix is called the “golden handcuffs.”

What Are Golden Handcuffs?

Golden Handcuffs refer to the financial arrangements or special incentives offered by employers to encourage employees to stay with them. Many times in optometry we will see this as above-market pay, tuition reimbursement, vacation packages, sign-on bonus, stock options, bonds, health insurance coverage, employee retention bonus, end of the year goal percentage growth bonus and annual increments. Many times incentives are given as regional positions that lock talent in with proposals to move up the ladder. By the time you move up the ladder or don’t you have missed your peak time to start your own business, and the next candidate is brought into the same matrix as you are pushed out. Sublease owners may experience this with free rent, free staff support, all admin procedure done for you. reasonable hours to start, and lucrative csa agreements. In areas where Doctor recruiting is tougher, golden cuffs in sublease can look like multiple subleases that was given to individual that didn’t request it or was looking to leave the position. These are great perks, but for the OD that had goals to pursue more it makes them comfortable and they never reach their full potential.

One OD stated, “Every time I tell them I am ready to leave they give me a 10k raise!” It is hard to say no to it. My husband wants me to start my own business but it is hard to walk away from easy money and not work weekends!”

When Is the Right Time to Break Free from the Golden Handcuffs?

Deciding to break free from golden handcuffs and start your own optometry business whether private or sublease is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. Here are some signs that indicate it might be the right time to take the leap:

● You don’t have the same passion as before.

● You still wonder of the what if’s : What if I did take that leap to take that sublease, what if I did buy the practice, What if I did start a practice in a remote area? What if I apply for that industry job?

● You Feel like your Potential is being Wasted: Did you pursue a residency and now don’t practice that way? Do you feel that you have out of the box ideas that are being ignored? Do you feel that the team around you is not at the same potential as you? The people you are surrounded around will lift you up or bring you down. If employees are just there to be comfortable and punch a time clock then that attitude can infect a whole office.

Answered Yes to 2 out of 3 Signs? Then it is time to remove these golden handcuffs.

Unshackling the golden handcuffs isn’t easy. It requires strength, strategic planning, careful execution, and a vision. Here are some ideas to liberate yourself and start your own optometry business and pursue your passions:

One of the benefits of these golden handcuffs is you are making more money, make sure you are paying down your debt as quickly as possible and investing the rest of your money. Find a mentor that has been in the same situation and a young OD that has the same aspirations to motivate you. Consider pursuing your passions and working part time at your current position. Understand that the easiest time to take leap is the earlier in your career, because you are not used to that lifestyle, there is less of a risk when you are younger for financial insecurity because you have the next 30 year to make it up! If you want to pursue something you are willing to work harder for it and the hours don’t matter when you have a goal in mind. When you work for someone else the goal is to finish at 5pm. Doing something your love will elevate your game of business!

Golden handcuffs can have both positive and negative effects. They can provide financial stability and security, but they may discourage ODs from exploring new opportunities, pursuing entrepreneurial ventures, or making career changes that could lead to personal growth.

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