Failed Escapes

The lures are obvious: freedom, fulfillment. The highs can be high. But career switchers have found that going solo comes with its own pitfalls: a steep learning curve, no security, physical exhaustion and emotional meltdowns.

This is a very interesting article about people who’ve tried to escape the rat race and failed.

It’s a sobering reminder that escape from a conventional day job doesn’t always work and you’ll sometimes be forced to go back to the old job, tail between your legs. This is why my career gym idea (see Issue Three) is so important.

Some of the failed escape stories are somewhat mystifying though. One woman left an unthinkably lucrative $450-per-hour job in a law firm in favour of a $1-per-hour home business. Why? Her home business idea was in event management: hardly the dream job. She should have stayed put for a couple of years and saved up enough money to never work again. Where are her savings? What did she do with that incredible hourly wage?

I think some people also confuse an ideal with what would actually be a pleasurable activity. Just because you have an enthusiasm for artisan cupcakes doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy running a bakery. I like coffee but I don’t see how running a coffee shop (ordering beans; cleaning tables; talking to dick-head customers; managing the accounts; getting sued for sexually harassing the staff) would be much better than rotting in an office somewhere.

Of course, there is no shame in a failed escape. So you have to return to the day job, but you’ll have tasted freedom and you’ll have some great stories to tell at the water cooler. Best of all, there’s nothing stopping you from refining your plan (or ripping it up completely) and trying again.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

Leave a Reply

Latest issues and offers


Issues One to Seven

A bundle of our first seven issues. Featuring minimalism, Houdini, Leo Babauta, Bohemianism, Alain de Botton, Sartre, and Tom Hodgkinson. 567 pages. £35.


Issues Eight to Thirteen

A bundle of our last six issues. Featuring Luke Rhinehart, Flaubert, Mr Money Mustache, part-time work, Will Self, home life, Richard Herring, and E. F. Schumacher. 593 pages. £30.

Issue Thirteen

Our final issue. Featuring an interview with celebrity mortician Caitlin Doughty; Matt Caulfield on zen fool Ryokan; and Reggie C. King on David Bowie and Sun Ra. 122 pages. £7.

Escape Everything!

A hardback guide to scarpering. Essential reading for wage slaves and slugabeds alike. Published by Unbound and Penguin. 230 pages. £12.