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. As there is only one CEO and few senior management positions in an organization, only a handful of employees would be promoted to these appointments. What are the chances of people reaching the highly coveted management positions in the course of their career?
Employees are starting to question their attitudes toward their current employment. Many people in the workplace see work as a seemingly endless pursuit with little reward or purpose apart from getting their salary. Long working hours, increased responsibilities without the proportionate pay increase and unpaid overtime work seem to be a norm nowadays. Deep down in their hearts, they hope to achieve a better work-life balance that allows them to spend more time with family and friends. Such sentiments are prevalent even for many top income earners. Indeed, more and more employees are longing to escape the rat race if they have a choice.
Escaping the rat race means differently to individuals. Common meanings include:
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 still 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 achieve financial independence.
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 passive income until you become financially free. 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. I worked hard for many years while still in corporate employment to develop a steady stream of passive income and went on to sack my boss in 2007. Today, I don't depend on a salary for a living anymore and am financially independent. I've already escaped the rat race. Now's your turn!
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