10 Powerful Steps to Help You Escape the Rat Race
It has long been the quest of the masses to discover some formula that will allow them to escape the rat race. When people discuss the rat race, they often view it as those people who are commonly referred to as normal, the average, or middle class. Personally, anyone who is working to sustain a situation that requires that they keep working is caught up in the rat race. In general, people who are considered middle class
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Most of the people who are considered middle class are not concerned with paying their basic bills, but what they are concerned with is whether they will ever be able to comfortably retire. Those closer to the poverty line have even more to be concerned with because every day is a struggle.
Imagine working on a job where your annual pay increase is not in step with the increase in the cost of living. No matter how hard they work, they never seem to get ahead. Basically, this is a situation in which a person is working for the sake of working. Working is not a means but the end.
While some people marry their way out of the rat race and others inherit money or win the lotto, they make up a very small portion of the population that are caught in the rat race. So, how does the average person lift themselves out of the rat race? Following are 10 powerful steps to help you escape the rat race.
- Change Your Thinking
While a substantial part of the rat race is determined by decisions and behavior, both are a direct result of a person’s thinking patterns and paradigms. So, in order to change erroneous behaviors and to be prepared to make better decisions a person has to create a paradigm shift that allows them to view life through a different lens. Your thinking frame show you see things and how you respond to them. It is immensely difficult to escape the rat race with a consumers mentality. It is hard to grow your wealth when you spend money faster than you can earn it — leading to the accumulation of debt. Many of us buy things that we don’t need in order to impress people we don’t like.
- Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Need
I sort of alluded to this problem in the first step, but we need to take an even deeper look into it. We live in a world in which we are highly subjected to propagandized messages through multiple mediums — messages that suggest we spend our hard-earned money on things we don’t need. We are bombarded by ads and commercials that show us all types of things that don’t fall in the category of a necessity; however, these ads suggest that you are somehow “less than” if you don’t have them. What this type of advertising has produced is an entire culture of people who are defined by material possessions rather than being defined by their character and moral turpitude. This cultural reality has resulted in millions of people not only buying things they don’t need but buying things they cannot afford.
- Turn Your Side Hustle into Your Business
I often share my position that I believe that every person, regardless of their background or physical limitations, has a level of genius. I have worked with children and adults with autism, Down syndrome, coming from broken homes, and poverty, and every last one of them had gifts and genius. We are a part of a society in which genius is rarely nurtured— where instead we train everyone to think alike and practice the same thing. Our education model is an outdated European philosophy that operates based on a standardized model.
People are not encouraged to pursue their purpose and passions. They are squeezed into boxes in which they were not designed to fit. Even when they engage in their passion, it is normally as a hobby or aside-gig. They never take it seriously. Here is what I can tell you. You will never fire yourself and you will never undervalue your own work. By turning your side-gig into your business, you are in a better position to control your financial destiny.
- All Revenue and Profits Are Not Meant to Be Spent
Even when you have your own company or a decent paying job, every dollar you earn is not meant to be spent. In fact, a significant portion should be reinvested to create other financial opportunities. You have not escaped the rat race until you have reached a point in which your money is working hard enough for you that you no longer have to work. When you do this, you will be at a point in your life in which everything you do is something you want to do instead of something you have to do.
- Stop Trying to Keep Up With the Jones
This is something that I never understood. Far too many people are wasting money on things they don’t even want in order to keep pace with people they don’t even like. You should focus on creating a budget with a significant end in mind. Don’t focus on what the next person is doing. Focus on what you need to do to right your ship.
- Downsize Wherever Possible
If you really took inventory of most of what you own and consistently spend money on, much of it is not needed. Downsize to reduce cost while simultaneously reducing the stress of consistently struggling to pay for all of that stuff. I am not suggesting that you should have something nice if you want it, but that may mean letting something else go. You can’t have it all, especially if you are trying to escape the rat race.
- Consider Merging Your Family
This is something that my wife an I are seriously considering. It is common among Americans to force our progeny out of the house before they are prepared to take on the challenges of life, including financial management. We are strongly considering building a house large enough for all of our children and their families to move into a wing of the house. While we will pay to have the house built, the cost of sustaining the home and caring for family members will be shared. This will eliminate the possibility of our children struggling or constantly having to turn to us to bell them out. Plus, there is empirical and pragmatic data that suggests that these types of environments support holistic health. I know that it is less stressful and the primary support system for each person is all within the immediate living environment.
- Stop Giving Gravity to the Feedback You Get from Negative/Miserable People
Whether it is on social media or in person, we give way too much gravity to what others have to say about us, our beliefs, and our situations. If a person is not adding to you, they have no right to subtract from you through negative engagement. When I see this type of behavior, I often wonder just how miserable a person has to be in order to make a career out of attacking other people. Misery truly loves company, but you don’t have to invite in.
- Question Your Conflicting Ideas About Social Media
You will be surprised how often I hear people complaining about how social media is controlling youth and destroying the world —suggesting that social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are quite powerful in their ability to propagate subliminal messages. I actually agree that social media is powerful, but justas it can deliver negative messages, it can be used to promote products and services that you create. With acouple taps of a keyboard, you can now reach people all around the world in amatter of seconds. A large portion of these type of communications can be doneat no charge, while there are other paid methods that are very reasonable. Welive in an era in which there is absolutely no excuse not to besuccessful.
- Avoid Negative People At All Costs
For many of you, it is very difficult to get away from negative people because they are usually people that you have long ongoing relationships with. They are often family members and childhood friends. The idea of creating a new circle does not rest well with you because you are too attached to the old one. Another reason that it is hard is that there was likely a time when you were being just as negative as them. If you want to experience fulfillment and create a life outside of the rat race, you are going to have to free yourself from people who deflate you. You need people in your circle who will fan your flames.
Make Today the Day
It is time to stop procrastinating. It is amazing some of the excuses that people can come up with for why they have not started the process of changing their life’s situation. The truth is that there is no legitimate reason for not being actively engaged in becoming a better person, in your marriage, your finances, your work and beyond. In my latest book, Critical Mass: The Phenomenon of Next-Level Living, I talk about the toxic nature of procrastination and how it robs you of precious time that could be used to better and further yourself. Whether it is the fear of the unknown, or the fear of what others will say, or maybe the fear of failure, you have to confront that fear and make a decision that you are going to engage the need to change today.
There is no such thing as the perfect timing or the perfect opportunity. You have to create the perfect timing and opportunity through consistent engagement and persistence. You can get out of the rat race, but you will have to make decisive moves in order to do so. I challenge you to start today! ~ Rick Wallace, Ph.D., Psy.D.