Consulting Lessons Learned 27: The golden handcuffs dilemma

This lessons learned is not so much about how to perform great on the job, but rather about your own financial mindset as a consultant.

Let’s get this straight right at the beginning: As a consultant, chances are pretty high you have an above-average salary. There is some truth in the saying, that as a consultant you will have more money than time to spend it.

At the same time, your surrounding will change quite drastically with your job entry into consulting. Suddenly, 5-star hotels and meals at fancy restaurants are the new status quo.

But there is one dilemma that comes with this new lifestyle, that some refer to as the “golden handcuffs dilemma”:

You get used to your high salary and the expensive consulting lifestyle. You lease a fancy sports car. Spend regular vacations at the Four Seasons hotel. Or rent an expensive apartment.

Of course, this is all fun and great. But at the same time, this new lifestyle will make you less flexible in life. If you get used to a fancy lifestyle and have high regular fixed costs, you will question twice if you…
… are ready to quit your job to build a startup
… can leave a firm even if you are unhappy with your job
… can take the risk to not always perform at 100%

Don’t get me wrong: It’s totally normal, if you want to compensate long working hours with a bit of luxury. But always make sure to question if any consumption-related decision decreases the degree of flexibility you have and enjoy in life.