Not too long ago, I jumped off the corporate ladder in search of this elusive creative escalator.

Yes, I am yet another Millennial who gave up a cushy, six-figure job in search for creative and meaningful work.

I had followed the rules every step of the way to get to where I was. I had everything the gatekeeper of this ladder was looking for, crafted perfectly to fit onto one piece of paper.

Good college. Check.

Good grades. Check.

Good networking skills. Check.

I had left my creative side far, far behind in my early 20s and let my obedient and rational side take the lead towards this ladder. I waited in line to get picked to be part of the American Dream that was socially ingrained in me to accept without question.

And then, I got picked.

What happens next as I started my ascent up the ladder is probably the same story for most of us. I found myself miserable and confused by what the hell I signed up for.

If you are currently on the corporate ladder, here are five reasons why you too should jump off and join me on the creative escalator:

1. Work has become a drudgery.

If you know theres a creative soul stuck somewhere inside you waiting to do more meaningful work, but the majority of your days, months and years are spent doing mundane work, then jump.

You spend your days in a cubicle, in front of a computer, doing the same things in order to run a well-oiled corporate machine.

You find yourself in weekly or monthly meetings talking about the same meaningless agenda items updates, improving productivity and efficiency, increasing billables, quotas or whatever all so you can be reminded of your importance as a specialized cog in the machine.

People may tell you to stop complaining because work is just that:work. Its not supposed to be fun, and people rarely love what they do. Thats why we get paid for it: because we wouldnt otherwise do it for free.

Maybe this mindset made sense in another era where success meant go to school, follow the rules, be obedient and build someone elses dreams today in exchange for living out your dreams later (much later).

So, we become lost and confused. And why wouldnt we be?

We have been hardwired to believe success means one thing. When we can feel it in our gut, it surely has to mean something else.

This is because we are a byproduct of the old American Dream, but are currently living in the midst of the new American Dream. One where creativity, social connections, entrepreneurship and doing meaningful work are getting more and more prevalent, and thats the type of work you would do for free.

2. Youre chained to the ladder by your student loans shackles.

If the main reason youre still at a job you hate is because of your student loans, then jump.

Youre afraid to make the leap not only because of all the time and energy you invested into an education you thought would later pan out into the career of your dreams, but because of your massive student debt.

These are real fears because, as we all know, these shackles are impossible to get rid of. (For example, you cant get rid of it through bankruptcy and student loan forgiveness still means the IRS will slap you with a tax bill.)

But you know what? We put these shackles on ourselves and cant spend our lives pointing the finger at others for our uninformed decisions.

We put them on in exchange for the opportunity to climb this ladder in the first place. We trusted the system, and it was what we knew at the time.

But this should not stop you from making the leap. Where theres a will, theres a way, even with your student loans. (Note: There are various options you can seek out for affordable payment plans, like income-based repayment plans.)

Marie Forleo puts it best: Everything is figureoutable. So, dont spend your life chained to the ladder because of this one barrier. Youll figure it out.

3. Youre chained to the ladder by these golden handcuffs until retirement.

If you find you value freedom and time for yourself and with your loved ones over status, money and material accumulation to impress people you dont care about in the first place, then jump.

We understood success was defined by getting a white-collared job, committing and dedicating our time to each rung of the ladder and giving the man all our time so he will pay and promote us.

The reward at the end of the ladder? Retirement.

We trusted the man at the top of ladder, and why wouldnt we? It was all we knew.

Success meant how high up the ladder we climbed, how much money we made and how many things we could buy with that money along the way.

Work today has become merely a means to pay the bills and sustain a consumer lifestyle we can never really keep up with.

A lot of people on the ladder wont mind the golden handcuffs as long as they look progressively shinier each year. Theyll boast the bigger homes they are barely living in, the expensive cars they drive to and from work every day and the exotic vacations they take every two weeks out of the year.

Just 10 to 20 more years to the promise land, theyll say. Well damn, some of us have like 35 to 40 years to go until retirement.

Creative freedom is the new wealth, and time is the new poverty.

If work is what we do with the majority of our days and life, shouldnt we at least enjoy and find meaning in it? Our work is part of our journey, and if all were doing is dreading the journey and always looking toward the destination (retirement), what a wasted life it would be!

In our socially connected and technologically advanced world today, we have more opportunities than our parent or grandparents ever did to put our work and art out into the world and actually make a living off of it.

These new concepts we didnt even think were remotely possible for so many people have found their way into the mainstream.

We can be an entrepreneur or a location-independent employee or freelancer. We can get paid for blogging, traveling, eating, etc.

We can fund our passion projects through Kickstarter or Indiegogo. We can value the idea of true work-life balance, design our lifestyles, have mini-retirements and do work we love.

Weve noticed a rise in the individuals who have jumped on this creative escalator and found success on their own terms. Who paid them?

Surely not the man at the top of the ladder (at least not directly), but people who found value in their work, their tribes. And their tribes found value in their work because these individuals did work they love.

4. You are becoming the average of the people you dont want to become.

If you hate the game of office politics thats vibrating throughout the ladder and youre surrounded by negative and competitive people fighting their way up the same ladder, then jump.

You realize camaraderie with your peers is built on complaining or engaging in office gossip at the water cooler or at happy hour.

You find your superiors make your life a living hell on a daily basis because they hate their lives and are merely on survival mode to get to the top.

You find theres not a single executive at the top of the ladder you aspire to become.

If all this is true, you need to jump.

At the end of the day, you become the average of the people you surround yourself with. You can choose to seek out other like-minded people working toward a similar goal you believe in, or you can continue to interact with others working toward somebody elses goals.

Your colleagues on the ladder will surely tell you dont do it,dont jump off the ladder. Theyll tell you the grass isnt necessarily greener on the other side.

They tell you those people on the creative escalator are stupid, lazy, selfish and entitled. Theyll start to impose their own self-limiting beliefs and fears onto you.

Well, in defense of those on the creative escalator, theyre not stupid and lazy. Theyre smart and productive because they can get more work done in less time, so they can enjoy the rest of their days.

If theyre selfish, its because they want to do work they actually love and care about.

If theyre entitled, its because they dont need to wait for someone to pick them, they choose themselves. And they choose to put their own art into the world for society to determine if its worthy.

5. You find even the corporate ladder has no guarantee of a stable career.

If you finally realize there are no guarantees of success and stability in climbing the ladder, then jump.

Theres a chance the man at the top can keep you at the same rung for years or even push you off because he has to cut costs.

The company may possibly fold one day, and that ladder you were in the middle of climbing crumbles to the ground. There may also be those on the ladder who play the game better, and you may get passed over on that promotion or even get entirely replaced.

You can dedicate your life to this ladder, but dont bank on the fact it will always be fair to you.

Then again, there are no guarantees the creative escalator will take you straight to the top. You can put all your time and effort into doing work on this escalator, and you might find yourself not going anywhere or that its taking you in the wrong direction.

Then, you may have to start over.

It might break down at a moments notice when youre so close to the top. It might also get jammed with too many creative self-starters and entrepreneurs.

You can jump over to this escalator, and it wont be easy, but it will sure as hell be worth it.

Theres uncertainty and instability on both sides, so why not get on the one worth taking a risk on?

There isnt a right or wrong path to success. But today, you have options.

Dont risk spending your life doing things you dont want to do in hopes you can buy the freedom to do what you want later.


If you decide to make the jump, embrace the uncertainty and accept the failures and criticisms that it inevitably invites.

Theres no reassurance or guarantee this will work out. You will get rejected. They will laugh. But when you fall, youll get up and pivot.

Fall. Rise. Pivot. Repeat.

Soon, something will change inside you, magic will happen and youll get to success on your own terms. The dust will settle, youll wipe off your knees and youll be better because of it. The world will be better because of it.

The world doesnt owe you anything. You owe it to the world to question everything, make a change for the better and put your best work out there.

Dont follow other peoples definition of success and wait to get picked by them.

Redefine success for yourself, and then pick yourself.

You can read more from Natalie Le at The Corporate Creatives.

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