A rat race is defined as an endless, self-defeating or pointless pursuit of a competitive activity. Imagine a rat in the laboratory trying to escape while frantically running around a maze or in a wheel. This analogy is often used in reference to work in our modern society.
Most people enter the rat race to earn income. They travel to work early in the morning, work very hard to get a promotion (hopefully) and then work even harder for the next promotion (again hopefully). This corporate ladder climbing continues until they peak and stagnate at a certain level. There are very few senior management positions in companies and thus, very few would be promoted to such top level positions. And since there is only one CEO in any organization, most will never reach this top position in their lifetime!
Escaping the rat race means differently to individuals. Common meanings include:
- Retiring from corporate employment
- Changing current job to a flexi-hours arrangement
- Becoming a freelancer
- Running your own business
- Working from home
- Becoming financially free with steady streams of passive income
If you’re passionate about your corporate job and is already living your dream life, then the rat race doesn’t exist for you. However, if you detest your current job or are working so hard until there's little time left for yourself and your loved ones, you're in the rat race. You should rethink whether you’re in the right job if you're dragging your feet to go to work. As Dave Ramsey rightly puts it, “If you won the lottery and the first thing you would do is quit your job, then you need to quit your job.” I’m not suggesting that you quit your job immediately to get out of the rat race. You have obligations to your family members as well as daily expenses to meet. You certainly require time to build up your finances to meet your needs.
You can choose to spend your whole life trying to win in the rat race. But the trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat. Otherwise, you can spend the next few years focusing on escaping the rat race by taking action to develop alternative sources of income until you become financially independent. Determine your true desire and follow your passion if you want to live a fulfilling life. As a corporate employee years ago, my greatest desire was to be able to fire my boss one day to pursue my dream without having to worry about finances. Today, I have realized that desire and am financially free. I have already escaped the rat race. Now's your turn!