Escape The Rat Race – Where Do You Even Begin?
Look to your right: what’s riding shotgun, telling you where to turn in life? Is it the pursuit of fulfillment, exploring passions, faith, relationships, what brings you joy? Or, is it a job that you’d happily leave tomorrow? If you’re nodding along to the latter, then it may be time to start plotting your course to escape the rat race.
The rat race isn’t any particular type of job: it’s a state of mind. A list of symptoms includes feeling apathetic towards your daily tasks (the cast of The Office, sans Dwight, comes to mind), knowing that the outcome of your work doesn’t matter, or feeling completely unchallenged, amongst other signs of career rot.
What’s the opposite of the symptoms of that rat race? Feeling passionate, challenged and like you give a hoot about the outcome of your work.
You’re here because you know the answer: it’s being self-employed.
The idea of leaving your current job in order to start a business, though very appealing, may sound impulsive and reckless. Or, more so, it may even sound like something that is too difficult to figure out on your own.
Quitting your job to strike out as a solopreneur might seem daunting. Am I really just supposed to give up my security, leave my job and strike out on my own?! Where do I even begin?!
Escaping the rat race does not have to be a sudden change. Whatever you do, do not just quit your job. Quitting your job is the end of the road, not the beginning.
Where to begin? Let’s take a look at where the road begins instead of focusing on the end goal. What follows is a list of things you can do now in order to make the ultimate objective a little less intimidating.
In this post, I will give you a few tips on taking your first steps to escape the rat race; practical tips that will help you figure out how to achieve the freedom that so many people talk about.
Want To Escape The Rat Race? Start With These 6 Tips
You don’t need a plan to get started on your escape. You can even start an entire online business without knowing exactly what to do. This is the Wild West! But these steps will help you find your way, cowboy.
1. Expand Your Mind (*peace sign*)
Kidding; no I am not talking about LSD here.
A fantastic way to start the exploration process is to just go online and look at how people advertise their business. Want to take your corporate skills of auditing down the online biz road? Go on a quest for inspiration and see what sort of products and services are on offer within your chosen industry to get an idea of what is possible for you!
Of course, you don’t have to stay within your work industry. Actually, the thing your answer may lie within the thing that you do to procrastinate work.
Answer me this: what do you waste time reading online when you’re putting off your actual work?
The internet is filled with examples of people who have been successfully pursuing the most outrageous careers. You’d probably be surprised by the number of people making money around the same things you’re passionate about.
Seeing all those successful businesses can be intimidating but don’t forget that this is not about staring wide-eyed at their success. Instead, observe their business model in order to start thinking about possibilities. If they could start a brand, so can you.
2. Swerve To Avoid The Most Common Potholes
Do you really have to be an expert before you have a chance to make it on your own? Absolutely not. In fact, this could not be further from the truth.
The idea that only the best in your field can make it is just one of the things that can kill your dream.
Take an average burger joint for example: the food is probably mediocre at best and almost anyone could probably make a better burger at home. Still, lots of people go there for the simple reason that, every once in a while, we just don’t want to be bothered with cooking ourselves.
Ordinary skills sell. It really is as simple as that. You do not need any special gifts or talents nor do you need to get an MBA before you can start.
That does not mean there is nothing to learn, of course, or that you can willfully do a meh job once people actually hire you. You will likely need to develop some new skills if you want to escape the rat race, but there are people right now hiring people with your skills.
3. Learn From The Right People
Ever discussed your ideas for a business with your friends or family and been shook by their lack of enthusiasm? Common discouragements include “have you thought about this enough,” “who’s going to pay you for that,” “don’t get your hopes up!”
Would you ask your friends to fix your car or help you with your taxes? I think we can all agree that in some cases the people who love you most might not be the right people so ask for entrepreneurial advice.
When it comes to starting a business to escape the rat race, it is best to get input from people who have done it themselves. Instead of listening to friends or family members giving their (unsolicited) opinions, turn to people who have successfully done it.
In 2021 social media offers unprecedented opportunities to connect with people trying to do what you do. Learn from them! There’s an insane amount of free advice out there.
There are countless blogs out there that give advice on online business in general and on your specific niche. The majority of bloggers are more than happy to answer any questions you might have.
Facebook also has many active groups that are filled with fellow entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs, both established and still budding, connect and try to help each other there.
Connecting to these communities can provide you with all the expertise you need to both demystify and shorten the process. Learn from their experiences and mistakes on their own journey to escape the rat race.
4. Find The Right Role Models
Striking out on your own comes with a long list of choices. Suddenly, you’re faced with all kinds of decisions that will define who you are as an entrepreneur.
For example, let’s say you need a company logo or graphic. Will you only use ethically-sourced materials? Will you pay a designer a normal fee or are you OK with using bidding sites? Is your business solely there to make money or will it have a philanthropic backbone?
Please choose a philanthropic backbone. We don’t need any more Jeff Bezos in the world.
Yes, paradoxically, when looking for inspiration it is important to bypass the business people that are just successful. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be inspired by success stories, but not every successful person should be elevated as a business or moral blueprint.
Instead, try to find the people that you admire, who really stand out through conduct. Learn from people that, for example, focus on inclusivity and accessibility, people communicate exceptionally well, are ethical in their pricing and product sourcing or do anything else that you find aspirational.
Rest assured, you are not the first one to deal with these decisions on your plate. Many successful solopreneurs discuss their insights into these issues on podcasts, blogs or interviews.
Although you do not need to read a number of books before you’re ready, you definitely do have to educate yourself as you go. Finding the right people to learn from will certainly speed up the process!
5. Try It Out For A Few Days
This might sound surprising, but you could be surprised how much your hobby or passion changes once you realize that you have to deliver.
As soon as I started telling people that I was joining Kayla’s blog (ya know, Writing From Nowhere, the blog you’re on right now), stories started coming out of the woodwork. To my surprise, many people in my life had started but never continued with their own blog, writing a book, their Ph.D. dissertation and more.
And, of course, this isn’t specific to writing at all.
Remember, once turn your passion into your job, whatever it is, simply working on something is. not. the. same. as finishing it. The number of things you finish, instead of the time you spend on them, will determine your income.
This is hard. Really, really hard.
As a new entrepreneur, learning how to escape the feeling of never being done with work can be quite the challenge. It is also one of the absolutely vital things that you have to learn in order to escape the rat race.
When thinking about making a living from something you love, keep in mind that the reality will not be as rosy as Instagram suggests. Yes, it will be you with a laptop, a cup of good coffee, hopefully some sunshine. At the same time, however, it is good to realize that there is an underlying grit.
Working on something for 8 hours a day (and knowing that tomorrow will hold the same) can really turn your hobby into a chore. If you still like it after trying it for a few days, you’re seeing good omens that you might have the passion and discipline to make have this be your vehicle to escape the rat race.
6. Finally, Stick With It
When Kayla and I were hiking in Virginia back in 2017, our paths crossed with Charlie, a retiree from Arkansas.
He was just shy of 70, and he and his wife had been married for almost 50 years. Fifty years, and he still seemed madly in love.
Being newlyweds, we asked him if he had any words of wisdom for us and I will never forget his response. “It’s very simple,” he said”
“All you have to do is just stick with it. The grass is not greener. Don’t even look at the grass. Just stick with it.”
I’ve thought of Charlie’s advice many times in life when it comes to the things we love. Nothing, no matter how much you love it, is always easy. This same advice should be applied to your attempt to escape the rat race.
Now, to be clear: this doesn’t mean that you should stubbornly yoke yourself to every business idea. But the pursuit of freedom and fulfillment is something that you shouldn’t abandon when the path gets hard.
Some ideas will be better than others, but there is no shortcut.
Obviously, there are stories out there of people who get incredible results within a few months but these are the exception and clearly not the norm. Having the wrong mindset will be lethal.
Expect it to be a long-haul, or you might end up quitting before you even get the chance to fail or thrive.
Escape The Rat Race Final Thoughts
Do you find the idea of leaving your job scary or intimidating? What are some of the things you are currently struggling with?
I hope you have a greater sense of direction and that you know that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to escape from the rat race. There are many successful business models that you can adopt, and find resources online where people will teach you how they managed to escape the rate race.
Striking out on your own is scary, a lot of hard work.
It is also 100% worth it.