When You Need to Escape, Build Your Own Countdown Clock


*My brand-new book, Born for This, is all about helping you find the work you were meant to do. This series explores some of these lessons.

Lesson: When you’re trying to escape a dead-end job or any other undesirable situation, create a calendar and count down the days to freedom.

My dad worked as an aerospace engineer for several decades, but the final years weren’t as enjoyable as the earlier ones. It was probably my fault: I wasn’t there to help test the space shuttle (like I did when I was six years old) or pester him to take me to Burger King (like I did throughout my whole childhood).

He eventually retired and entered a new phase of life, writing mystery novels and short stories. Before he packed up his cubicle and moved to a beachside office, he created a spreadsheet that displayed the number of days that remained until his retirement age.

It soon became a topic of dinner table conversation: “Hey, Dad, how much longer at the day job?” I’d ask. He’d respond with something like, “Oh, I don’t know exactly . . . well, I guess I do. Looks like I have 673 days and 4 hours to go.” Soldiers deployed on long missions do the same thing, counting down their time to the precise day of planned exit.

If you’re in a similar situation, whether trapped in a cubicle, on deployment, or otherwise imprisoned, make your own countdown clock. You can construct a spreadsheet like my dad did, use an app on your phone (there are several free ones available), or just mark the days down in your calendar.


Born for This is available from or your favorite local bookseller. You can also take the free quiz or join me on tour in your choice of more than 30 cities.


Image: Countdown

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