Wage Cage Escape Plan:  Shifting into Real Life

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9 Steps to Escaping the Wage Cage and Finding Freedom

The ‘wage cage’ is where you find yourself when you give up on yourself and allow the ‘World’ to hypnotise you into giving up your own power.

It’s a form of mental, emotional, and even – dare it be said – SPIRITUAL slavery where you’ve been conditioned to spend your life being told what to do and seeing yourself, the world, and reality as a kind of (MENTAL) PRISON instead of the sandbox for you to play with life and find a way to rise in a REAL way and to build a life that embodies your real values and intentions.

What the wage cage looks like will be slightly different for all of us but it will always be a job (‘just over broke’) that dehumanises us because of its laborious, repetitive nature and the feeling that we are only existing to do meaningless tasks for the sake of survival (and nothing higher or – more importantly – REAL).

The wage cage is so insidious because the things that can lure us into it seem like a ‘good’ thing in the short-term: just enough (but never more than that) money to pay our bills and to allow us to SURVIVE, job ‘security’ in the form of a monthly wage slip, the stability that comes from working regular shifts and knowing that things aren’t going to change that much from one week to the next.

All of those things seem relatively attractive – especially if we don’t TRUST and BELIEVE in ourselves to be able to handle the risk and feelings of uncertainty that come from going out there and doing things on our own terms (which is always a chaotic ride but even more so when we’re just getting started).

The first thing I want to help you understand in this ESCAPE PLAN is that your need for certainty and stability is actually the ‘thing’ that’s caused you to VOLUNTARILY imprison yourself in the wage cage in the first place.

Odds are that if you’ve found this page then you’re either in a wage cage right now or you’ve escaped one and you’re worried that you might get sucked back into one again because you don’t have a solid ESCAPE PLAN for avoiding the wage cage all together.

This article will give you a VERIFIED process of leaving the wage cage and taking control of your life. It’s not about ‘get rich quick’ schemes or anything like that and it will require WORK but it’s something that anybody can do if they’re willing to pay the price (which is always better than the COST of giving up your real self and your real life to be in the wage cage to make somebody else a ton of money).

Even though there’s some short-term benefit to enslaving yourself in the wage cage (as mentioned above) – think of all the immediate and long-term disadvantages it brings as well:

-Knowing that you’re actively WASTING your time (and therefore life) every minute that you spend doing MEANINGLESS, repetitive tasks in the wage cage.

-Not respecting yourself because deep down you know that you don’t really ‘own’ yourself because you’re being TOLD WHAT TO DO more than choosing what you want from life.

-Having a ‘restless’ feeling that there’s ‘more’ to life because who you KNOW yourself to be in your heart-of-hearts doesn’t get to express your real VALUES or INTENTIONS in the world.

-(Probably) Being told what to do by a ‘boss’ that you don’t even respect that much or who is less intelligent/creative/real than you and some of your colleagues.

-Always wondering what you’re actually capable of and constantly having to fight off the thoughts that you’re not living up to your real potential or growing in the way that you want to.

-Telling yourself that things will change ‘One Day’ but knowing deep down that “One day never comes” because you’re never actually changing anything; you’re just going through the motions and watching the days go by.

-Etc.

If you’ve found yourself in a situation like this, then you need to WAKE YOURSELF UP.

Let me tell you right now – NOBODY ELSE IS GOING TO GET YOU OUT OF THE WAGE CAGE. You can only save yourself.

They want you to believe that you can’t save yourself and that you just need to suck it up and be part of the standard systems of being ‘normal’ in an unreal world (which needs you to be unreal too).

They’ll tell you that you should be ‘grateful’ for doing it and that many people are worse off (which is true, but it doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to STEP UP and do something you actually want to do).

They’ll tell you that the odds of escaping the wage cage are rare and so you shouldn’t try – but what’s the worst case scenario? You either try to escape and ‘fail’ or it actually pays off. Even if you fail it’s not like you’re going to struggle to find another wage cage job out there somewhere.

If you don’t actually step up and start showing up in your own life then it will NEVER be a life that you really want to live or actually feel proud of and feel like you’re somebody you really WANT to be.

This might sound a little brutal but the ONLY reason you ended up in the wage cage in the first place is because – somewhere along the line – you stopped believing in yourself and started to naively believe that ‘The World’ (which is always unreal) had your best interests at heart.

Here’s a red pill that you need to take if you want to get out of the wage cage:

The World actually doesn’t care about you – not in the sense of wanting you to live a REAL life where you actually feel like your destiny is in your own hands, you’re your own person, and that you’re doing something you actually care about doing.

No, the ‘World’ actually wants you to believe all of the myths that it’s built upon:

-That you need a 9-5 job to be ‘happy’.

-That you need to focus on being productive all the time (for the benefit of your boss) instead of being CREATIVE and using that creativity to live your own real life and add value to the lives of others.

-That trying to build a life you actually care about is ‘selfish’ (when actually it’s not because it will allow you to better help others).

-That you don’t have a CHOICE about how you live your life.

-That the wage cage is ‘normal’ and that it’s where you’re supposed to be.

All of these ‘myths’ and anything like them are just an AGENDA that your brain has been pumped to the brim with ever since you were a little kid (school is about getting you ready for employment in the wage cage, not actually EDUCATING you).

They want these ideas in your head so that you will be able to work in the wage cage and provide the ‘cage masters’ with the number of employees they need in order to be economically viable and to use your labour to keep themselves rich.

This doesn’t mean that ‘capitalism is bad’ or anything like that (personally, I’m a fan of capitalism as it lets you be REAL if you can add value in return for value) – it just means that the vast majority of organisations out there are relying on your lack of self-belief to ensure that they can put you in the wage cage and make money from your time (the most precious thing you have).

Because so many people have been dehumanised by unresolved shame (etc.) then they’re quite happy to sign up for the thankless task of spending their lives in the wage cage.

If you read any of my stuff already, you’ll know that when we’re driven by SHAME (or guilt and/or trauma) we end up creating a false version of ourselves in order to keep these emotions hidden from ourselves (in order to avoid the short-term pain of facing them).

A natural consequence of ‘hiding’ in this way is that we become PASSIVE and cultivate a passive mindset that stops us from taking real action in the world.

This real ACTION is the kind of thing that changes our lives for the better because it allows us to move towards a sense of PURPOSE in our lives but also to push through some of our illusions about ourselves, the world, and reality and to grow more REAL (in the sense of being CONNECTED to our real values and intentions and the rest of the world by extension).

The reason I’m bringing this up is because the WAGE CAGE is a place where you end up putting yourself as a CONSEQUENCE of choosing to hide from your emotional ‘stuff’ and to try and navigate life by having a passive (instead of active) mindset.

The short-version is that when you live with a passive mindset you look to the world to ‘tell’ you what to do instead of being active and CHOOSING for yourself.  This doesn’t mean that you can choose absolutely anything but if you want to open up your world and increase your options and status then you need to shift out of the passive mindset that led to the wage cage and pivot into REAL life by being active.

You need to know this because that’s the FIRST STEP in escaping the wage cage: committing to taking ACTION instead of just being ACTED ON.

This might be a subtle distinction but if you’re reading this and you’re currently in the wage cage ask yourself if you’re taking ACTION in your life or if you’re being ACTED ON.  There’s only one of these options that leads to wage slavery in the cage.

What follows is a step-by-step process to leaving the wage cage (or – at the very least – setting solid foundations for sticking your head out of the bars when you’re ready).

I used this process in my own life when I first quit my own wage cage job and started working on my creative performance and strategy business and I’ve seen other people shake the wage cage bars and free themselves with this method by working together one-on-one.

Just to be clear (and to repeat and important point): this isn’t some BULLSHIT plan that sounds nice – it’s something that definitely WORKS but that will require WORK in order to make it WORK.

The key point is that to leave the wage cage there is a lot of INNER and OUTER work.  The ‘inner’ work is digging into the kind of stuff we’ve alluded to above: basically, looking at the emotional ‘stuff’ that caused you to stop trusting and believing in yourself in the first place and to hypnotise yourself into thinking you need to be told what to do for the rest of your life. The outer work is just obstacles out ‘there’ in the world.

You can’t escape if you have a passive mindset holding you back so make a COMMITMENT now to start taking BOLD action (if you’ve been stuck for a while  then that’s something you can’t avoid).

This plan isn’t an ‘overnight’ thing either so you need to be committed to working on this stuff for 3 – 6 months minimum in order to start shifting into real life. You will start getting RESULTS and building MOMENTUM almost immediately and this will increase your confidence as it gives you EVIDENCE that what you’re doing is working.

This process it about creating a PRODUCT that you can sell people, testing it out, and then refining your offer until it gives you the results that you want. It requires that you use your CREATIVITY to escape the wage cage and that you cultivate an attitude that allows you to be more REAL as a result of moving forward (more real = you OWN YOURSELF, you’re not selling yourself into the slavery of the wage cage).

The rest of this article will give you a map for the next 3 – 6 months.

Here we go:

Step 1: Check in with yourself and figure out what you want.

The first step to leaving the wage cage is to figure out what you really WANT from life. As we’ve hopefully made clear by  this stage, this isn’t about being TOLD what to do but stepping up and choosing what you want so you can go and get it.

The short-version here is that most people who end up in the wage cage end up being there because they have never really given their life the necessary attention it deserves and so they lack the following information:

-Their REAL VALUES: for example, ‘truth’, ‘freedom’, ‘creativity’, ‘health’, ‘humour’ (these are my values).

-Their REAL INTENTIONS: which are GOALS that are aligned with their values.  You need to make sure that your goals are in alignment with what you actually want from life.

-A clear VISION for where they’re going: this just means actively sitting down and creating a picture for where you want to take yourself in the long-term, medium-term, and short-term.  This needs to be aligned with your values and intentions.

The first step, therefore, is figuring out what kind of things are missing from your life (your values) and how you can create a vision for yourself that will bring these things into your life.

Check out the 7-Day Personality Transplant System Shock for Realness and Life Purpose if you want to go DEEP into this in the context of your own life.

If you don’t have time for that (even though it will save you a lot of time in the long-run), then figure out your values by going through this exercise (from the Personality Transplant) and start figuring out what your actual values are.

You need to raise AWARENESS of this kind of stuff so you can use it as a compass as you move forward out of the wage cage.

Step 2: CHOOSE a creative project that is aligned with what you want and that you can use to escape the wage cage.

The next step is to choose something that will serve as your VEHICLE for escaping the wage cage.

This will always be some kind of creative project and will be different for all of – the important thing you need to know is that it needs to be something you can turn into a ‘product’ for your audience whilst also being aligned with the values you uncovered in Step 1.

Ideally, this also needs to be something that you can charge a regular retainer fee for (either every month or every [6] months depending on what you’re offering).

Here are some examples but you’re only really limited by your imagination (and what people actually value):

Photography/Videography: Maybe you know how to create amazing photos/ videos and want to turn it into a product. You would create an offer of a certain number of photos/videos each month for your clients and charge every month (or whatever).

Art: Maybe you can offer commissions to magazines/t-shirt companies/whatever and charge a certain fee for [x] number of images per month.

Music: Maybe you’ll do song writing or music production and create a set fee for the number of songs/albums you work on.

Coaching within a specific niche: Maybe you have experience working in a certain area and have solutions that can help with common problems people have (for example: maybe you want to help designers to become more confident).

You can turn this into a coaching package where you charge for a certain number of sessions every [x] months (though personally I think you should up-skill here and get some actual coaching qualifications – don’t just be one of those internet ‘gurus’. The point is to promise results you can definitely DELIVER).

Writing: Maybe you’ll become a copywriter and will create a certain amount of content within your niche for each client per month (and then charge each month per content package).

Any other business: Anything will work with this process as long as it can be turned into a ‘product’ (even if it’s a service you can productise by designing a PACKAGE) and that you can charge your clients for the value you that you DELIVER (and, to drill the point home: you do have to deliver – this isn’t about ripping people off).

These are just simple examples and you’re not limited by what’s here but the main point is that you need to make sure you tick two boxes:

-1) You need to do something aligned with your values and intentions (so you don’t end up in a different kind of self-employed wage cage).

-2) you need to be able to OFFER something that can be offered again and again from one month to the next (for a fee!) – this doesn’t mean every client will keep working with you (some people might just need your ‘package’ one time but it increases the odds of getting repeat business if there is a need for repeat RESULTS).

Okay, now you’ve got the basics, this is your roadmap for the next 3 – 6 months (and if you’re already stuck in the wage cage that might mean working on weekends for a while):

Here’s a short breakdown of each stage (because this article is getting long) but get in touch if you have any questions or whatever.

Step 3: Creative Brand Sprint

You’ve already chosen a creative VEHICLE that can be turned into some kind of product.  Now, you’re going to make sure that the product you’re offering isn’t just a commodity (i.e. just like any other product in the same category) by building a brand around it.

You can do this by taking yourself through a CREATIVE BRAND SPRINT – that sounds fancy but all it means is that you get a big picture overview of what you’re offering and what it actually means to people.

The process we’re going to go through is about looking at four stages from the Truth Bomb methodology (Truth Bomb is my Creative Performance and Design Strategy agency).

There’s a video below to walk you through the basic creative brand sprint but the short-version is that you’re going to build a brand around your creative work by looking at four stages:

Substance – which is the ‘higher’ level stuff behind what you’re doing (like values and the ASPIRATIONS of your users/clients).

Style – how you translate this into a COHERENT aesthetic for the brand itself.

Communication – how the substance will be translated into marketing messages (for social media, ads, etc).

Community – how you will build a community around your brand.

The short version of all this is that you’re going to build something REAL by making sure you are helping your audience embody values they CARE about and keep moving towards their own growth and aspirations.

This one hour video walks you through this process (yes, it takes and hour but if you’re serious about escaping the wage cage this hour is an INVESTMENT of your time):

YouTube player

You will need the Truth Bomb Brand Design Canvas to do this which you can download for free at truthbomb.co.uk (email required or just go through the video and do it on paper yourself).

Step 4: Idea Clarification and Implementation

Once you’ve gone through the Creative Brand Sprint you’re going to have a draft version of the Truth Bomb Brand Design Canvas. This is a living document so you can keep updating and refining it as you learn more about your brand.

The next step is to start taking the insight you have here off of the page and to start taking ACTION based on what you’ve uncovered. This will be different for everybody – depending on the nature of your business – but will involve things like setting up your social media profiles (if necessary), creating a website, starting to share content etc.

Short version: Make a ‘To Do’ list based on what you’ve learned in the sprint and then start doing it.

Step 5: Create a Prototype Offer

Your implementation plan in Step 4 will give you a list of things that you need to do overall to start raising awareness of your brand. If you actually want to start making money and begin your shift out of the wage cage then you need to create an OFFER.

This is where we come back to the idea of a package mentioned above: this is essentially the art of creating something that solves the problems of your audience whilst being valuable enough to pay for from one month to the next (or whatever timeframe you decide to work in).

The short version of what you need to do in this step is to sit down and DESIGN your offer based on your real values and intentions and what you learned in the Creative Brand Sprint.

The rule here is that you need to OVERDELIVER so that it’s easier to sell down the line (especially when you get started):

If you’re making a coaching package, for example – you need to create something that has the actual coaching sessions but also support in between and whatever else you can add to maximise the value you provide (eBooks, courses, whatever).

If you’re creating a videography package maybe you need to add a brainstorming session at the start of each production to ensure the client gets exactly what they want. Maybe you’ll also upload to YouTube (or whatever) and also create social media content from the videos you make.

If you’re a web designer maybe you’ll create a package of a website with a certain number of pages and also do all of the graphic design or copywriting stuff required.

We don’t have enough time to go into all this here but essentially your job is to create a product from whatever you’re doing that is IRRESISTABLE to your audience (figured out in the creative brand sprint with the NICHE MATRIX).

It should offer so much VALUE by giving them the RESULTS that they want that they would feel dumb saying ‘No’ to it.

Step 6: Research and Experimentation

Now you’ve created an offer based on everything you’ve learned so far but this is – at present – just a bunch of ASSUMPTIONS about what you think your audience actually wants.

The reason we’ve done things this way round (instead of going out and asking people what they want from Day 1) is that we are trying to build something that’s aligned with YOUR values and intentions so you don’t end up being a slave to whatever project you end up working on.

This stage is about going out there and TESTING your assumptions with your actual audience.

Essentially, what you need to do is to find some people that are in your target market and go and TALK to them in real life about the offer you’ve DESIGNED (this is a design process).

The process here is to approach people in your network or to find new people (which is obviously harder) that could be your ideal clients for the offer if it was ready to be launched in its current state.

You’re going to let them know that you’ve created a product that you think they’d be interested in because it will get them SPECIFIC RESULTS and that you’d like to ask them for feedback.

Most people will either be flattered about you asking for their opinion or they’ll ignore you (and if they do that’s fine).

With the people that are willing to talk to you either get on the phone or have a video call and tell them what you’re doing.  Don’t make this too complicated – all you really need to find out is if your assumptions about VALUE are warranted.

By the end of these interviews (aim for about 10 people minimum) you will understand what people actually want and will be able to make tweaks to your offer itself based on the feedback you get.

Ideally, at this stage, you will also be able to collect VOICE OF CUSTOMER DATA – this just means actual phrases and language that your clients use about their problems and what they’re looking for (you will use this later on to craft your marketing messages that are ALIGNED with the VOC data).

Step 7: Testing & Testimonials

Now that you’ve tweaked your offer based on the learning you got in Stage 6 you’re ready to go out and actually start DELIVERING your product (as a service in some cases) to your audience.

At this stage, we are trying to gain EXPERIENCE in service delivery and so we’re not going to try and make a ton of money yet.

Essentially, you have two options:

-1: You can work with people for free at this stage (which has the benefit of making it easier to find people).

-2: You can work at a highly discounted price (which has the benefit of people taking it a little  more seriously because they invested something in it).

Either way, you’re objective is NOT money at this stage – your objective is to get TESTIMONIALS from the people you work with once you have delivered your product to them.

This means you’ll be able to use what they say in the testimonials to offer social proof that you can actually deliver what you say you can when you shift into actually selling the product/service properly.

Essentially, what you need to do at this stage is simple: reach out to people that would be your ideal clients and let them know that you’ve created a [package] and would like to test it out on them for free or at a discount in exchange for a testimonial.

Make sure they are COMMITTED and treat it like you would a paying client – i.e. be PROFESSIONAL and deliver as much value as possible in the form of RESULTS.  This might mean drawing up agreements or whatever else is required (for example, with a coaching package you might have some ‘housekeeping rules’ that need writing up and sharing in advance).

Once you’ve worked with these people (which will usually take a month minimum) ask them for their testimonials which will be used on your website, etc. (make sure they know this before you even start working with them – if they don’t agree with the testimonials there’s no point).

By the time you’ve reached this stage you will have gone through the process of choosing a project that’s aligned with your values and intentions, built a brand around it, tweaked and refined an offer, and actually created a portfolio of experience with social proof that you can DELIVER VALUE to the right people.

Now you need to start SELLING and MARKETING properly:

Step 8: Retweak, Sales and Marketing

Now you’re ready for the final step which is an ONGOING PROCESS and something that will continue as long as you keep moving forward:

Essentially, you are going to keep retweaking and improving your services based on what you learn from the people you work with – this essentially means listening to their feedback so that your product/service keeps increasing the VALUE it provides in relation to solving specific problems for your audience.

Now that you have something that you KNOW is valuable to people you can start focusing on sales and marketing.

Essentially, this means finding ways to let more of your ideal clients know about what you’re product can do for them (marketing) and then having CONVERSATIONS with them to see if you can help (sales).

You don’t want to be one of those ‘salesy’ people that everybody hates so you simply need to see if you can help people (based on the evidence you’ve already collected). If you can, great; if you can’t, don’t force the sale and find somebody you can actually help instead.

What you need to do here is to connect your offer (that you keep refining) to the right people.

This means your WORK (don’t forget, it’s work) now involves building an interconnected system of three things:

All this means is you have three systems:

Lead Generation: Some system to bring in new ‘leads’ (potential clients) that you can work with. There are tons of options but some examples are:

-SEO articles to bring traffic to your site

-DM’ing people on LinkedIn, social media, etc.

-Paying for ads on Facebook or Google

-Making a YouTube channel

-Networking offline

-Etc.

There are loads of different options and you will benefit from a combination of more than just one thing. The main point is that you need to find a way to keep getting in front of new people.

Nurturing Machine:  This is a system for ‘nuturing’ your relationships with the leads that you come into contact with. Ideally, you need to communicate with them regularly and develop a relationship with them.

This ‘machine’ will be a combination of different things but in my experience the best thing to use is an EMAIL LIST.

This means capturing the email address of your ideal clients and sending them regular content that is VALUABLE and helps to solve their problems.

You can use this list to sell people your OFFER by booking SALES CONVERSATIONS with people (or just letting them know you exist and what you do until they’re ready to talk).

Short-version: you will need to turn your ‘Leads’ into ‘Clients’ by having an actual conversation with them about whether or not you can help them. Your ‘Nurturing Machine’ is basically about encouraging people to reach out and talk to you for this purpose.

Offer: You’re actual offer – you already know what this is or you wouldn’t have made it to this stage.

Obviously, there’s a load more that can be said about sales and marketing but at a bare minimum you need to think of it in these terms.  If you do (and you do the WORK) you will eventually build a system that connects you with QUALIFIED people that will pay you for the VALUE your offer gives them.

Step 9: Escape the Wage Cage

If you do this properly and you create something that people actually want then you will be able to take your destiny into your own hands and escape the wage cage.

This plan probably won’t make you a millionaire or anything (depending on what you’re selling) but it will shift you into a life where you OWN YOURSELF instead of being told what to do all the time.

Now that you’ve left the wage cage you can start to think about ways to SCALE your business so that you can free yourself even more but this process is vital for getting started and for living a life that’s REAL.

Hit me up if you have any questions and good luck getting out there either way.

Peace,

Book a call with me here.

 


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