Running away from the rat race is one of the main themes of this blog. Though I’ve expanded into writing more about life, personal finance, and education, I always want to return to the central focus of what I write.
One goal is to empower people to move away from their comfort zone. I hope that more people would work on things connected to their passion and purpose and not just to work to pay the bills. At the end of the day, there is more to life than work.
Ever since I left the corporate setup and transitioned to be an educator, I recognized that the rat race is not confined to the corporate offices. The rat race is a lifestyle and a dangerous one.
However, many people didn’t choose to get trapped and continuously run in the rat race. They just got absorbed by the system and eventually got “institutionalized.”
And one common problem that I noticed among many Filipinos is the desire to “look successful.”
Our current culture has become obsessed with accomplishments and titles, material possessions and big purchases, and even Instagramable fancy vacations. They would even go into debt just to attain this semblance of achievement, which I found wasteful.
Running in the rat race.
The rat race can apply to anyone who’s trapped in an ever-increasing struggle to work for promotions and salary increases. In comparison, they lose sight of what’s more important, such as relationships, health, and dreams.
Many people who got trapped in the race, whether voluntary or not, chose to stay become it became their comfort zone. And also because the previous generations commonly display it. As a result, the people running in the rat race may be unaware.
It’s also the cultural default for many Filipinos to study and obtain a degree that will allow them to apply for jobs, and hopefully, pay enough to sustain a comfortable lifestyle.
However, the rat race is self-defeating and will result in wasted time. And the 15 paid time-offs per year may not be enough to do the things that will have a more significant impact.
It’s just unfortunate that people would continuously aim to get a higher and higher position and a larger and larger salary package, but eventually loses themselves and are just sucked into the endless cycle of salary and expenses until it’s time for them to retire.
The problem with complacency.
There is a fine line between contentment and complacency, and if we are not careful, we may fall into the path where we no longer know the difference.
Contentment means that you have everything you need and are satisfied with your life while still working towards something greater. It can be for you, your family, or others.
On the other hand, complacency is the unhealthy satisfaction for the things that you have the power to improve.
Many people became complacent after getting tenure in a company. They would refuse to learn new skill sets because the permanent position is the only thing that they aim.
On the other hand, some people are content with where they are but are still doing their part to improve their work.
The goal is to be content but not complacent.
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.Philippians 4:11 (NKJV)
The danger of lifestyle creep.
The common habit of people running in the rat race is lifestyle creep or lifestyle inflation.
This happens that as their salary increases, their expenses also increase in proportion to the additional income. Because of the lifestyle creep, employees who know how to manage their smaller salaries suddenly spend a lot more.
As a result, they started shopping more often, avoided public transportation, used ride-hailing services more, and ate out more.
Though there is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating wins, such as a promotion, you should never forget that you will not be an employee forever.
Time goes by so fast, and if you’re not careful, you may realize that you are about to retire with no savings and will have to pass on the responsibility to your children.
How not to be the meat of the sandwich generation.
The sandwich generation is the situation when someone is trapped in-between supporting your parents and siblings while also trying to establish your own family.
The sandwich generation is prevalent, especially to Filipino families, because of the close family ties. However, the burden that it causes to the breadwinner can be overwhelming. That is why it is crucial to communicate your struggles to all of the people involved.
Lifestyle checks and even temporary self-deprivation can help until you can fully support both sides. Having multiple streams of income can also help and should be prioritized if you want to break the cycle of the sandwich generation.
We can’t choose which family we are born into. Still, with the opportunity we have, we can make sure that our children-to-be will not also be trapped in another cycle of the sandwich generation.
Find a way to escape.
The first step of escaping the rat race is to recognize that you are in one. Acceptance is the beginning, followed by action. You don’t even need to leave your current corporate or government position. You just need to know your priorities.
Many people who got deep into the rat race eventually become almost incapable of escaping because of their debts over the years. But there is hope. It will just be a difficult transition.
Some of the things I learned through my journey of escaping the rat race are:
- Find your “why.”
- Live below your means.
- Avoid getting into debt.
- Find other streams of income.
- Live in a minimalistic lifestyle.
I hope and pray that eventually, we will be able to escape the rat race and will have the time and resources to perform a deeper purpose for our lives. God bless.
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