The Reason You Still Work a Corporate Gig While Others Live Your Dream

the King must Rise

This is a guest post from Charlie Houpert of Charisma on Command. He helps people to create their dream lives by practicing courage and improving their charisma.

Ever wonder what allows some people to live the dream?

I’m talking about breaking out of the 9-5 office life, traveling the world, and pursuing projects you genuinely care about. Have you heard of people doing that and though “Damn, I wish I could do that?”

Then buckle up.

I’m about to share with you a powerful mindset that will enable you to finally set up your life so that you can escape the corporate grind. If you’re 100% fulfilled by your job – perfect. This post isn’t for you. But if part of you longs for that world traveling, self-employed dream, I want you to know you can have it literally within the next few weeks.

But before I talk about the mindset, first watch this scene from Batman: The Dark Knight Rises…

Why? Because it’s a metaphor. You are Bruce Wayne. The prison is your job. And the rope is everything you think you need.

You’ll see how soon.

My Story

I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I have an apartment 2 ½ blocks from the beach that I share with 5 of my best friends For half of what we spent in NYC, we eat out every night, spend part of every day on the beach, and are healthier and happier then ever.

And we all work for ourselves.

People assume I must have had some charmed background to live like this. Mom and Dad must be supporting me or I must have sold my company for a crazy exit.

Not at all.

I moved to Brazil five months ago with $20,000 in the bank, $100,000 in debt, and no job prospects. That’s a net worth of -$80,000 for the numerically challenged.

Chances are you are not in financial circumstances worse that that. So if I can set up the dream with such dismal financials, you can too.

You just have to shift your mindset. Make the shift and you can be on your own beach – wherever that may be – by the end of the month.

What’s the mindset?

Make the Climb Without the Rope

What is the rope?

The rope is everything that feels like your lifeline. The things that guarantee you’ll wind up right back where you started if you should take a risk and fail. The rope represents certainty and security.

The rope is your paycheck.

The esteem of your colleagues.

The flawless resume.

The comfort of continually saving, month after month

As long as you insist on having those things, you’re tied to the status quo. You’ll stay in the corporate world because it is the ONLY way to maintain them. There is no monthly salary for traveling the world and pursuing what you love (at least not immediately). Plus, if you leave your current job, you’ll miss the upcoming promotion and the glowing HBS recommendation from your boss.

If you want to get out of the corporate world, you need to be willing to leave the corporate world behind. Sounds obvious, but people forget that also means leaving the security of the corporate world behind. That means leaving behind an ever-increasing bank account, the adulation of your colleagues, a sure-fire 3-year plan… all that gets temporarily tossed out the window. And the more you insist on not leaving behind those things, the more stuck to your current situation you become.

Which reveals the paycheck/the resume/the rope for what they really are… they’re not safety nets. They’re chains. They might keep you safe from catastrophe, but they also ensure that you’ll never break free to live the life of your dreams.

If You’re Still in the Corporate World, Maybe You Can Relate

Maybe you’ve heard yourself say:

I don’t have enough money

I need someone to go with me

I’m not as brave as other people

Life isn’t about goofing off

What would everyone say?

Every one of these excuses says: “I NEED MORE CERTAINTY THAT THIS WILL WORK!” The irony is that it is only by giving up certainty and security that you can achieve something greater.

So what should I do?

Try this. It’s an exercise from The Four Hour Work Week called fear setting.

What if you stopped caring about all the things that give you security today?

What if you cut the rope?


Ask yourself: what would happen if you HAD to leave work in 90 days to chase your dream for at least six months?

List it out.

  • Your bank account would take a hit, that’s for sure.
  • There’d be a gaping hole in your resume.
  • Some people would think you were crazy (and some people would think you were a hero).
  • You’d piss off your boss and your family.
  • You’d have to find some other way to pay for yourself.

Not ideal. But not terrible. You could get another job. Earn money doing side gigs.

And if things went belly up you could come back on your hands and knees and beg your way into a similar position, given the skills you’ve developed.

All in all, pretty recoverable.

And what’s the upside?

Worst-case scenario, you’d be living the dream for six months. Then back to the doldrums to save up enough money to take another crack at doing something you love.

Best-case scenario, you find a way to make the dream sustainable by working for yourself. That decision to leave could be the best decision of your life.

But you won’t make that decision as long as you refuse to take a risk. You won’t make it out of prison if you insist on wearing the rope. That’s not how the climb works.

So Are You Still Committed to Getting Out?


Then do what I did. This is what got me out after 2 years of talking about it and not doing anything. And it worked the first try.

Set a FIRM date within the next four months to leave your job. A specific date – i.e. April 5th. Take into consideration bonuses, and projects and all that good stuff, but absolutely do not postpone it until next year. It needs to be real.

Then schedule time to talk to your boss and let him/her know. That will force you to stay committed to your pursuing your dreams. If you keep it as an internal commitment, you may waver. Tell your boss you’re leaving and you’ve got no other option.

You can even pitch it to your boss as a necessary six-month sabbatical. If you like, you can leave the door open to return. Though remember, you’re not asking permission to leave. You’re telling your boss you’re leaving and offering him the chance to get you back at the end of six months (if you decide that’s what you want).

The point is: stop waiting for a perfect fall back plan. Put a date on the calendar and force yourself to do what you know you should, come what may. Like Tim Ferriss says:

“For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.”

To get out, you have to make the climb without the rope.

Watch it again.

Now, rise.

10 replies
  1. Jan Koch
    Jan Koch says:

    What a great metaphor Charlie! Cody, thanks for bringing him on!

    The scene from Dark Knight Rises is exactly the metaphor I relate my own break-free story too as well, that’s why the movie is one of my all-time favorites.

    I worked in as business consultant for several years. When I was studying for a masters in IT Security besides being employed I got a physical breakdown and decided to become self-employed. I built my side business for 7 months and since 2014 I’m self-employed and making 4-times the money compared to my paycheck.

    It’s a damn scary decision to make and even more frightening to actually take action to become self-employed – but it’s so worth it.


  2. Charlie
    Charlie says:

    Yeah, I’d heard the “Burn your ships” metaphor several times, but it was watching this movie that really drove it home. There have to be stakes when you take risks, otherwise you just don’t reach as deep!

  3. Ondrej
    Ondrej says:

    Hi mate,
    I did the same like you… I quit a well paid job on stock market and moved to Rio de Janeiro. Beginning was difficult but I’m getting stabilized as SEO and web design freelancer.

    Anyway thanks for great content and keep up good work.

    • Charlie
      Charlie says:

      Just left Rio 2 days ago! I wanted to avoid the madness of the Cup, but I’m sure it is going to be a lot of fun. Enjoy the next month, looks like it’s gonna be one to remember 🙂

  4. Debashish
    Debashish says:

    Talk about perfect timing!

    I told my boss yesterday that I’m going to quit on September 5. Turns out that my resignation won’t be accepted because of the contract I had signed. I can either pay them the equivalent of 25,000 USD to walk away, or not pay the money and face legal repercussions. I also won’t get the piece of paper that says I worked with them for 5 years.

    I have to make a big decision now. Do I start the journey to freedom with a $25k debt, or do I walk away and face the legal consequences? The third option is to stay in this job for 18 more months and then I’ll be free to walk away without the debt or the legal issues.

    I don’t know if I’ll start the climb today. But I will break out this prison. One way or another. Great post, Charlie. Thanks for writing this.

    • Cody McKibben
      Cody McKibben says:

      Ooh that’s painful. Sounds like slavery to me. I’d see if you can consult a lawyer because, though I’m not sure where you live or exactly what your situation is, I can’t imagine a place where it’s legal for a company to actually enforce terms like that. Either way, best of luck Debashish, you’ll make it out sometime…

      • Debashish
        Debashish says:

        Legalized slavery is what it is. That’s why I want to get out of this system.
        Consulting a lawyer is one of the first things on my list. If that doesn’t work, maybe a crowd funding campaign to raise the money will be my salvation. 😛
        Like you said, I’ll make it out sometime.

  5. The Wallet Doctor
    The Wallet Doctor says:

    Setting a firm date and sticking to it is a huge part of making this successful. Its so easy to say, “Oh, I’ll get to it someday, but I really need to do this right now.” But that can go on forever. Make the choice, and make it real. That starts with your firm date.

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