Is the 'rat race' a choice, a tragic life story, the norm of mediocrity or a truly awful magical circle? ... This is my invitation for you to find out what it is really and how can one escape for real!
“It is difficult to pin down the moment you joined the rat race. It just sort of happened.” says Stephen Aarstol in his article in Inc. On the other hand Mate Baron tells us about the 10 signs that you are ready to leave the 'rat race', listing the well known – “you hate your daily commute”, “you are not feeling motivated”, “you are jumping through hoops that others are holding” and finally Wikipedia defines the 'rat race' as a lot of efforts put in running around but “ultimately achieving nothing…” And there is so much more written on the topic. Mostly offering either advice on how to get out of the 'rat race' by taking more vacation and earning more money or how to know you are in a 'rat race' in the first place.
But as a very recent ex-rat myself, I could tell you none of that is the actual truth. Nor it explains what the rat race really is or how to ultimately escape it.
And the fact is ... if you are ready for it ... ... THE 'RAT RACE' IS ONLY A MENTAL STATE!
A way of thinking. A belief system of which we are in control, but we’ve decided to let it control us. No one ever puts the 'rat race' in one sentence with 'personal responsibility'. Why? What do you think of that? The 'rat race' is something that kind of just happens because we follow the normal path? That’s what’s been broadcasted and it robs people of the opportunity to see that being in or out of the 'rat race' is a choice that we make on a daily basis and it is fortunately all up to each one of us!
IT IS NOT THE NORM...
I now get annoyed by the fact that we also take the 'rat race' as the norm of those “less fortunate”, mediocre, those not being either billionaires or professional surfers …. Whoever doesn’t fit in the buckets of “very wealthy” or “very free spirited” is bound to be in a “rat race” because they need to pay bills, take care of loved ones, cover some social standards, build reputation and lastly - they are realists…! With a semi-sadomasochism and a feeling of proud reluctance we continue doing what “we have to do”. There was no one ever to tell us anything more constructive than – “you have enough, stop complaining and live with it”.
I am coming from a 'rat race' background too. Working rat parents, working rat daughters, social expectations, financial services industry, daily commute, Monday to Friday … obviously. And yet there were times when I was happy and wasn’t feeling like living the 'rat race' and there were others in which I felt trapped. The only difference between the two … my mental state.
THE "RUNNING AROUND" IS NOT FRUITLESS...
I also would like to challenge the general definition Wikipedia’s gives where a lot of running around leads to no results. We run around but we do achieve some stuff, important stuff which keep us going. We increase our salaries, we buy more clothes, we buy cars, we pay the bills, we have some financial stability, some have made their parents proud, some have their friends proud, etc.… it is not a fruitless effort. We wouldn’t be doing it if it really was. Nevertheless many associate with the 'rat-race' and see no point, lose motivation.
SO HOW DO I FIX THIS? By finally facing it - you are in a 'rat race' when your brain is in a rat race!
The “rat race” is the way your negative, scary thoughts control you and rob you from your enthusiasm and motivation...
The “rat race” is a mental shift in responsibility that happens only in your head. You still have the full responsibility of your life yet you think you shifted some parts of it to something else, to circumstances, to life... to the unevitable 'rat race'
Your way of thinking is that of a rat racing with no purpose. If you want to escape it all you need to do is change your thought patters!
WHAT EXACTLY SHOULD I DO?
1. Start by wanting to start! I am not kidding. This is a prerequisite.
2. And then begin by appreciating! Appreciate what you already have. That doesn’t mean settling with it, it just means smiling at it and thanking it for being there. There is nothing that life has given us that it can’t take away – so be truly appreciative. Value the fact that you are wide awake and capable of running like a rat. Realize that every day is different from every other that you’ve lived, whether or not you are noticing it.
3. Then, move on to day-dreaming and visualizing the dreams as if real. I don't care how practical or logical you think you are. Learn more about this technique if you have doubts but allow yourself to have dreams again. Feel them, breath them, taste them. Expand your beautiful visions and make them prettier and bigger every time. Enjoy the time of day dreaming and STOP questioning whether or not this is a valuable exercise. If you don’t know it yet, then trust me that it is extremely effective. Just do it.
4. Ask the question – “what do I really want?” until you get an answer or many answers. So many of us are afraid to think about that. We are waiting for a “sign” to come and show us what we want; We are waiting for some sort of organic way of coming to a logical conclusion; We are scared that we wouldn’t know the answer; We would fail at knowing what we want… yet the truth is – we all know. Yes, it might take you more than 5min to refine the thoughts in your head but I can’t stress enough the worth of going through the 30min that you might eventually need.
5. Take accountability of getting what you really want. Looking directly in the eyes of your wants and wishes will inspire you and it will become easier making positive changes in your life, positive steps ahead.
6. Commit to doing the above on a daily basis for a month! That’s right – 30 days is all I am asking for. That doesn’t mean that you will not see results from day one but you need some practice.
That’s it - you are out of the rat race the moment you know a rat race is a thinking pattern that hinders your ability to act according to your true, deep needs and wants. Breath deeply and trust that it will only get better.
P.S Extra spark, if you choose to, on the same topic which I really liked by Giuseppe Filotto: http://www.gfilotto.com/escaping-the-rat-race-for-real