“The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you still are a rat.”
When I read this quote, it left jitters in my body. It was a moment of long pause. Countless number of frames passed my mind in seconds. A realisation that changed my perception about life, societal norms and how we involuntarily become puppets to its twines. And also how all this in aggregate decays our financial freedom.
By the end of this article, I’m sure you’ll feel the same too.
Let me tell you about it.
From the moment you are born, you are forced with a name and religious beliefs that your parents inherited.
You are thrown on a conveyor belt.
You are forced to go to school, go to college, study subjects that you don’t like at times.
You run to get good grades. You run on the conveyor belt to get a good salary.
You run to find a good mate before you run out of ‘eligible’ age.
You run again to make the ends meet.
You continuously want to upgrade your cars, your house, your gadgets without an end in sight! And before you know, you push the next generation on the same conveyor belt into the rat race!
You push yourself in believing, this is how life works! You feel miserable if you don’t meet societal expectations and timeline.
To get married before 26, to have kids before 30, to own a house by 40. Who made these rules anyway?
Let me break it to you today.
If you yield to the societal timeline and benchmarks, with a constant financial grind, without caring about your abilities to be unique and successful , you my friend, are already a part of this ruthless race!
Oh, you need more clarity to check if you are running this race?
Here you go.
Do you now agree that academics taught in school over 10 years can be learnt in less than 4 years?
Do you agree that you studied some subjects without learning practical application of it, even during your professional courses?
And not to forget, you cribbed about the Indian Education system but did nothing to escape it!
And then you grow up. You enter the adult-life.
With age and with earnings you reach the next lapse of the rat race, called the financial rat race!
Does it really matter if you earn a 6 figure fat paycheck but at the end of the year you have nothing to pay yourself ?
Nothing saved for yourself. Nothing for your retirement.
That’s how this journey of rat race ends. Everything for the race, nothing left for yourself.
You know, I feel pity for my clients who have lived running and racing very dedicatedly throughout this race.
All their life, they were busy paying for livelihood, mini vacations, temporary weekend entertainment and splurging on dopamine rush shopping/gadgets.
Despite having done great at their job, getting promoted, earning a 6 figure package and living with the best of amenities, they got caught in the race.
To earn more, they worked hard. To upgrade their life, they borrowed. To repay the debt, they worked more. Trapped.
They finally retired without much savings or adequate investments.
Imagine working during retirement. Imagine borrowing money or being financially dependent at that age when you want to be stress free. I’m sure that made you uncomfortable.
Do yourself a favour! Be your own superhero and save your world!
Fix that gap between earnings and savings.
I’ll tell you how.
Stick to Standard savings- Make it a rule. 20% of your income MUST go to your savings.
I’ve always told my clients, save first. Save before you spend. It leads to a slow disaster if you think, savings is a residual of your income after you have spent on your expenditures.
Pay yourself first! Always, always, always!
You should try a ‘Dopamine’ Detox- Dopamine is a temporary ‘feel good’ hormone released by your brain when you make that impulsive buy.
To stay in the race, we often get swayed and make wrong decisions. Build patterns around your life that’ll force your brain to accept hard decisions & discipline without Dopamine rush. Next time, if you do not have money budgeted for a party with your friends, say NO!
Don’t let your monkey brain over power you for small moments of pleasure.
Extra source of income-If you have found your Ikigai and you believe in it, monetize it. This way you will have more sources of income.
Put your money, where your mind is!
You will come across people who tell you to focus on one job, one source of income, without understanding your abilities. Don’t let those running the rat race convince you to embrace it yourself. They will not come to your rescue, if you start hating your life later.
Own your decisions, that way you’ll learn to be responsible.
What’s Ikigai? Well, google it 🙂
To make your life simple, here’s a diagrammatic representation of Ikigai.
One more way to escape the rat race, is to live a life of freedom. And freedom comes with money and wealth. Don’t you agree?
Invest for your health and for your financial freedom. Your goal should be to make money work for you by compounding it over a period.
A suggestion for you my friend, up-skill yourself. Even if the return on investment helps you to invest 100$ extra in a year, it’ll compound over time.
I would definitely recommend you to splurge. But do so within your acceptable budgets. Reward yourself for your financial discipline and self control. Gift yourself occasionally. Again, be money-wise.
Hammer this in your head. The ‘cost of cool’ is a heavy regret.
Watch this video about Rat Race from Youtube, that moved me and inspired me to write this article.