Do you fantasize about escaping the rat race? You’re not alone.
Jennifer, a highly educated & successful woman in her late-30s, expresses a desire to escape the rat race. She dreams of abandoning corporate life and starting her own company. However, she believes she has a stable job at a reliable company making good money. She is afraid of losing that stability.
She debates things like:
- Financial concerns — How will I pay the bills? How will I manage without group healthcare? What if I lose my life savings?
- Failure — What if no one wants to buy what I’m selling? What if I’m a horrible entrepreneur? What if this business idea stinks?
- Other people — What will my parents think? My spouse? My colleagues? Will I burn a bridge and never be able to return to corporate life?
All great questions and valid concerns. Anyone in her shoes would have these questions.
- How stable is the job, really?
- How high-paying is the job, really?
- Of what are you really afraid?
Our perceptions either limit or enable our dreams.
Jennifer earns a healthy 6-figure income. By most accounts, that is a high-paying job. She works at a Fortune 100 company that has been in business for decades. She assumes the company has a long future ahead of it, and so does she.
If Jennifer had a crystal ball, she would see the company’s industry shrinks over time. And a recession hits. The company fails, merges with a competitor, and drastically reduces headcount. She is laid-off.
The crystal ball would show Jennifer that her salary is minor compared to the revenues she would generate with her own company. More importantly, she would see the lives she positively impacts with her new company.
She’s still not willing to part with the golden handcuffs. Her fears and perceptions limit her dreams. Until she learns to follow these 6 steps to escape the rat race.
6 STEPS TO ESCAPE THE RAT RACE
STEP 1: Remove the perception blinders.
What do you know is true? How do you know this? People used to perceive the world is flat, and it isn’t. Don’t assume that if you perceive you have a stable, high-paying job, that you actually do. Always question your perceptions. Make sure they are serving you — not the other way around. Don’t become a slave to your perceptions or beliefs.
STEP 2: Believe in yourself.
It’s really that simple.
If you believe in yourself, an entire world of possibilities opens up. If you are passionate about your dream, then believe you can do it, and you will.
Your dreams are the map to your future. What you truly desire, you can create. God (or whichever Supreme Being you believe in) planted those seeds in you for a reason. You are uniquely talented and qualified to pursue your dreams. If not you, then who?
Your dreams hint at your life purpose. The future is waiting on you to fulfill your destiny and live the life you came to Earth to live.
So if deep-down you want to be a successful entrepreneur, then why not believe that you will?
STEP 3: Develop an action plan.
Create a 30-60-90 day action plan. Define what specific steps you will take in the next 30, 60, and 90 days to reach your goal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I recommend using Excel or MSProject, but you could easily use the back of an envelope. What’s important is that you think through steps to get you to the goal. And write them down. So you can hold yourself accountable.
As Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.” What do you want to accomplish in the next 90 days? Maybe in 90 days you want to have an executable exit strategy. Maybe in 91 days from now, you want to be on the first day of self-employment.
No goals is wrong as long as it is SMART. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, & Timely. An example of a well written goal: Lose 5 pounds in 30 days by exercising 4 times per week & reducing calories. A poorly written goal: lose weight.
Be sure to reward yourself when you reach your milestones. As organizational behavior guru Dr. John Slocum says, “What gets measured and rewarded, gets done.”
You may also want to determine exactly how much money you really need to live on. Strip down to the bare necessities. Do you really need 300 cable channels? Can you move to a location with a cheaper cost of living? Sometimes you have to take 2-steps backward to take a huge leap forward.
STEP 4: Analyze your fears.
What fears are blocking you from achieving your dreams? Make a list. Set a timer for 10 minutes and brainstorm a list of fears. What are all the things that keep you from making the leap? Be honest. Ask your spouse, friends, trusted advisers to review the list. Did you miss anything?
Create a risk mitigation plan. It’s helpful to use Excel. In the first column, make a list of all your fears and all the things that could go wrong (aka risks).
In the 2nd column, define the risk as high, medium, or low probability of happening. Usually you will discover few risks have a high probability of actually happening. This little fact alone will help minimize your fears.
In the 3rd column, define the steps you will take if the fear (aka risk) becomes a reality.
Now, you have a concrete plan to use in a moment of crisis. Or analysis paralysis.
STEP 5: Don’t be afraid to execute.
Don’t get analysis paralysis. Don’t get hung at dreaming and not doing. Stick to the plan.
Hold yourself accountable. Tell a mentor, friend, or spouse your plan, and ask them to hold you accountable.
Create a motivational credo — such as Rat Race Escape Winner or Best Rat Race Escapee! Make copies of the credo and place it so you frequently see it, i.e., bathroom mirror, car dashboard, refrigerator, etc.
When in doubt or afraid, do something. Any little thing to move you in the direction of your goal is better than nothing. Determine a company name. Buy the domain name. Fill out the necessary forms to establish a sole proprietorship or LLC. Make a business plan (find templates on-line). When the Negative Nancy voice in your head starts talking, any small step toward your goal will help quiet her.
STEP 6: Belief + Faith + Trust
The holy trinity of success is believing you can and having faith and trust in God when you can’t.
I know these 6 steps to escape the rat race work because I lived it. Jennifer is me.
I want to hear from you! Tell me your plan to escape the rat race.
About Christine Boudreau: From trailer park to country club, Christine’s history proves you can beat the odds and achieve great success. Today, she leads high-potential people through growth, change, and transition to accomplish goals and reach their maximum effectiveness. For more information about her, read Christine’s Bio.