Last Updated on: September 21, 2023
TL;DR – The rat race can happen anywhere as long as your goal is competitive in nature and as long as you equate success with money. If you’re not careful, the rat race that you’re trying to escape will eventually swallow you back in.
It’s been a while since I left the corporate rat race to pursue a different route in teaching. I believe it is my calling and that I can be an agent of change for future generations.
However, as time goes by, I can’t help but feel that I am slowly getting absorbed by another rat race, this time, the government rat race.
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What is a Rat Race?
As the namesake of this blog, a rat race is basically a lifestyle that traps people in an endless competitive struggle for wealth, fame, or power.
People in the rat race are driven to “win.” They rush on opportunities to get promoted as quickly as possible or accumulate wealth as much as possible, making them neglect other aspects of their lives.
Being trapped in the rat race is an endless cycle of paychecks and expenses, which should not be the only routine for the next few decades of our lives.
Having the opportunity to work for the private and the government sectors, I noticed some significant differences between them, separating the two rat races.
The main differences, in my opinion, are the following:
The corporate world’s potential salary is much higher than the government – given the proper skill set and the right company.
Job-hopping is the usual strategy of some employees to increase their salary in a short amount of time.
However, this is not the case in the government. Our maximum salary is limited by salary grade, steps, and tranches. It’s usually fixed until the next salary standardization.
The salary increase is also less often and is most associated with a promotion.
Think of it this way, a salary of P100,000 will take more than 20 years to get in the government but can be achieved in five to ten years in the IT industry.
The private sector has a faster promotion cycle than the government.
In my previous company, we had two promotion cycles per year. In effect, this makes transitions from one position to another easier and climbs the proverbial corporate ladder faster.
Though office politics can be an issue, a promotion will definitely still come your way sooner or later. It is even possible to be promoted yearly if you’re outstanding.
From my observation, people are more driven in the private sector than in the government. They are looking for more than just permanent status and retirement packages, which produce less complacency.
Though there is nothing wrong with contentment, complacency is another issue. There is a fine line between contentment and complacency.
Being content is knowing that you have everything you need, but you still do your part to improve. While being complacent is refusing to improve yourself anymore because you have tenure.
The difference is very subtle, so we need to be careful.
It is no secret that less qualified and even incompetent people get higher government positions due to the “Padrino” system, which we often see in the news.
Something less likely to happen in large private corporations that prioritize skills and know-how over allegiance to politicians.
Is the government rat race the same as the corporate rat race?
In my opinion, it’s not. Government employees are bound by oath to serve the community to the best of their ability – and I know many still have this goal in mind.
That is why when I returned home to be a teacher, I wanted to prioritize that function more than anything else.
I avoid working only for the goal of a promotion and a higher position while neglecting the very reasons why I gave up my decent-paying job in the first place.
I have to always keep myself in check to see if I am lacing my running shoes once again to hop back in the rat race.
I know that there are so many differences between the corporate and the government sectors. It is like comparing apples with oranges.
But let’s look closer at how people are spending their time in their jobs. Many have the sole purpose of securing tenure and retirement benefits and no larger goal – which I think is a waste.
We need to grow more and be more than just employees taking out salaries and bonuses. Find a greater goal – much more than just our own. Escape the rat race and pursue other interests and promote the common good.
There is always room for improvement, whatever age you may be in.
Don’t just settle for a permanent position, but instead, use your time to improve others’ lives in whatever way you can.