Build an electrifying new life — while keeping your paycheck [ICYMI]


Read this on matthewdoan.com

Read time: 3 minutes

You can do hard things.

You can build a new life…while maintaining the old one.

(And frankly, that's your only option.)

Today’s secret is action-packed. Let’s dive in.


The Secret

Let’s be clear: your corporate job can be a major asset.

If you learn to do corporate right (and that’s a huge if), it becomes a tool for creating a 10X better life.

And yes, with the right approach, eventually, you can discard the “work for the man” career option altogether.

“But Matt, I can’t stand my job! It’s eating me alive.”

“I see so many people online living these freedom-filled lives. I want that!”

I get it: you might be boiling over inside, ready to run screaming from that 9-5 world. But that’s usually a foolish move — especially if you have a family or an inflated lifestyle.

The better strategy is to use corporate as a tool (for some time) to later “escape” with runway and momentum.

There are no hacks.

There are no shortcuts.

Here’s your only option: intelligent, heart-powered baby steps forward, day after day.

This is how I went:

FROM:

  • 10 years of ladder-climbing addiction
  • Which eventually destroyed my personal life

TO:

  • 5 “free” years in corporate (while keeping my paycheck)
  • Culminating in a full-time business that sets my heart on fire and lets me control my days

Know this: it’s entirely possible to keep your stable salary (for some time) while building a life you love.

How? Glad you asked.

I’m sharing my personal strategy with you here.

Context

Let's start by rewinding.

Coming out of college, I chose the first “sensible” career path that (a) was accessible to me and (b) paid well enough (that field was technology consulting).

Knowing nothing else, I went all in to prove myself and rise up the ranks.

Because I married early and had three kids by age 28, all my self-worth and “value” was tied up with succeeding in the corporate realm.

I was damn good too.

I learned to play office politics, gain influence with key leaders, and rapidly earn promotions and pay bumps.

On top of this, I traveled the world, earning “elite” status with hotel and airline programs.

BOOM.

With all these external validations of my “success,” I felt on top of the world.

Problem was, I was dying inside.

And so were my marriage, health, and relationships with my kids.

Across 2012-2013, I smashed into a brick wall at 100 MPH.

Everything in my life fell apart.

Here’s a snippet from a journal entry back then:

“What the f*** am I doing all this work for? I’ve lost everything.”

I needed a reinvention.

My new objective

Newly divorced with a boatload of financial responsibilities, I couldn’t just “escape” corporate life.

Truthfully, I still loved things about it: (moderate) travel, comradery, solving vexing problems.

But I could no longer afford for the job to dominate my life.

I needed to put my kids and my health first.

I needed to build a life I was proud of.

On top of that, I had these little entrepreneurial sparks firing inside my mind.

Those flames grew more prominent as I spent more time around entrepreneurs (e.g., I invested in several masterminds).

I felt I was made for something more than 9-5 life could offer, but I didn’t know what that was.

A ticking clock was inside me, counting down the time I had left in corporate. My mind told me, “Just a few years before I need to graduate.”

So here I was:

  • Huge financial responsibilities
  • A lucrative consulting job
  • Knowing my time was running out

So that led to the following question (challenge): “How do I safely maintain my paycheck while building an exciting new life?”

Little did I realize I was about to enter “experimentation” mode.

How I built my new life

Most people won’t embrace the daunting challenge of creating a new life.

Most people can’t comprehend how to maintain their old one at the same time.

Luckily (for my own sake), I’m not “most people.” Many have called me crazy — and I'm good with that.

After looking back upon tons of trial and error, here’s what worked in creating my new life — while keeping my paycheck:

  1. I invested in help: Books, podcasts, and social media are great for inspiration, but they don’t ensure traction. After too much wheel-spinning, real movement happened when I invested in mentors (coaches, masterminds, therapists) because that created the conditions for forced growth. Investing serious money, time, and energy psychologically commits you to your desired transformation — it’s called having “skin in the game.”
  2. I became a reflection machine: Journaling is the most important daily habit I’ve ever built. Every morning is an opportunity for self-therapy, emotional cleansing, and resetting on an intelligent attack play for the day ahead. These tiny 1% gains compound massively over time.
  3. I acted as my future self: I used to operate from my current self, dealing with today’s constraints and “realities.” The trick is to go years ahead and operate from your desired place. Imagine how your future self thinks and behaves. This creates massive change in your current situation.
  4. I focused on outcomes over hours: This high-impact strategy reduced my corporate workload by over 50%. It enabled me to use my talents in ways that “moved the needle” for my teams. Most importantly, it gave me the space to be a better husband and father, get healthy, build a business, and even start coaching baseball (a lifelong dream).
  5. I said “no” to almost everything at work: Defaulting to “no” protects your precious time and energy for the RIGHT things at work. Block your calendar, make yourself scarce, and politely challenge all requests of your time. (TIP: this is a critical skill for entrepreneurs as well.)
  6. I entered the “creator” gym: Corporate jobs have many rules — limiting what you can do and be. Living solely within a corporate job's “four walls” traps your talents, impact, and potential. Everything changed when I started building in public (blogs, social posts, newsletters, podcasts). Creating content for your intended audience regularly builds incredible muscle. It opens doors, ignites relationships, and transforms who you are and what you want from life.
  7. I built a side business aligned with my desired future self: My passion for corporate work ran dry, and I needed to fill this professional void. (Simply “building freedom” through real estate wasn’t a long-term fix.) So, through several iterations, I built a business that excites me. I’ve created a mission, client base, and business model I love operating. Work feels like play now, and I won’t have it any other way.
  8. I crafted a corporate exit plan (with criteria): I identified milestones before leaving corporate. I circled my “quit” date on the calendar 6 months in advance and read a nightly visualization to prepare me for that moment. As the day approached, I felt an odd calm…and followed my plan (leaving in March 2022).
  9. I created runway: This means giving yourself time and options. First, I made the necessary moves to keep my corporate job “running” in the background as I reinvented myself and built my side business. I diligently saved and invested my paycheck to create a healthy financial runway to provide for my family (recognizing the volatility of entrepreneurship).
  10. I anchored myself in my “why.” Your why is your mental rocket fuel. You must emotionally ground yourself in why you’re building this new life — whatever those features look like. It can’t be for generic “freedom” or something too logical. I thought every day about my wife and 4 kids — imagining how my self-directed “success” would unlock a different life and potential in them. I continue to do this daily. Fuel is vital.

This journey will only resonate with a small group. Most people won’t dare go through all this.

They’ll stay with their default corporate career and life, accepting default results.

Again, that’s okay for most people.

But if you’re not “most people,” I hope this framework inspires you to take action.

P.S. If you’re ready to ignite this journey in a structured and accelerated way, I can help you. Book your breakthrough call here.


Mind-Bender


Podcast

Building Your Corporate Offramp: Most people treat their careers as one-lane highways (staying in “employee” mode for 40+ years). But staying locked into this traffic pattern means leaving tons of freedom on the table.

So, build an offramp. Give your future self a gift: an optional exit off that mind-numbing highway. This episode discusses the 16 lessons I’d give to my past self for accelerating the shift from corporate to entrepreneurship.

That’s it for today, my friend! I appreciate you.

—Matt

Uncaged Secrets

Battle-tested strategies for escaping the Corporate Cage and using your superpowers to build entrepreneurial freedom (career & life). Leveraging 15 years in strategy consulting to build a 7-figure lifestyle business and give my family the life they deserve.

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