‘Working 9 ‘til 5, what a way to make a living’ or not…
The ‘rat race’ is an endless pursuit for more money and wealth that many Westerners find themselves in.
But it’s not for everyone. I’m one of those people, and you might be too.
If you’re feeling trapped by the cycle and think you want out, here are 7 signs that you’re really ready to leave it.
1) You’re feeling like each day is a grind
Cast your mind back to how you used to feel when you started your job:
Maybe you felt inspired, energized and full of ideas.
If you still feel like that, that’s great and it shows you’re on the right track for you.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling less than inspired and as though the job is more of a grind than anything else, it signals that you need to change track.
This was me after five years of working in the city.
I went from being someone who loved the thrill of the hustle and bustle – from grabbing a coffee and squeezing in on public transport on the way to the office, to sharing my best ideas in meetings and receiving validation for my work.
I was a real career girl. It was a big part of my personality, and how my friends and family understood me.
Though the novelty began to wear off around the five years mark, and I could feel the shift within myself.
I no longer felt the desire to be the first to get into the office in the morning and to share my bright ideas with everyone. I felt like I wanted something different.
Truth is, I was craving a slower pace and to feel like working wasn’t the only thing I gave my time to.
This is when I knew I had to change how I’d been living.
What does this mean for you?
Pay attention to the shifts within yourself and be honest if you’ve felt a change emerge.
What’s more, remember that change is a part of life and it’s something you should celebrate, not shy away from.
Simply put: embrace the new if you’re feeling the calling!
2) You’re feeling exhausted all the time
Your fatigue levels could be a sign that you’re ready to exit the rat race.
Ask yourself, honestly, how you feel each day?
Do you wake up raring to go with energy to seize the day, or do you want to curl up underneath the covers?
Now, it’s normal to feel tired from time-to-time, but there’s a difference between feeling a little tired and feeling exhausted.
When you’re feeling exhausted, it’s a sign of burnout.
It’s a sign that something needs to change in your life.
Simply put: it could be that being in the rat race is no longer serving you.
You see, you shouldn’t be going through each day feeling like you’re going to crash and burn at any moment.
Even though, in the West, we’re told that we should approach life and work with blood, sweat and tears, it’s not the way to go.
The only thing this guarantees is misery and more struggle than anyone wants or deserves.
Truth is, it’s not a sustainable way of living.
So if you’re feeling exhausted, get honest with yourself and think about whether it’s time for a change.
3) You’re feeling demotivated
Sure, things ebb and flow in life and motivation is one of these things.
But having a dip in your motivation levels and feeling totally unmotivated, and like you don’t want to be doing something, is a different feeling.
In my experience, there’s a big difference!
When I got the five year mark at my then-place of work, I started wishing I was somewhere else and that I didn’t have to do the work that day required of me.
I found myself procrastinating and doom scrolling on social media, rather than applying myself to the projects on my desk.
You see, I had lost my motivation and will to be there anymore.
In other words, I had outgrown the environment and was ready for a change.
If you’re behaving similarly, it might be a sign that you’re also ready to quit the rat race and to try a different route.
I suggest tracking your motivation levels so you can start to identify patterns.
4) You don’t feel like you have any time for yourself
Are you feeling like your work is running your life and there’s no ‘you’ outside of your job?
I’ve been there.
I know exactly what it’s like to feel like your work is your identity.
In other words, you are your work.
For years, I spent my evenings and weekends working on projects and doing little else than plugging away and climbing the career ladder.
But the only place this got me was burnout.
You see, I started experiencing migraines and feeling so depleted. I fundamentally felt like I had no time for myself.
I didn’t feel like I had the time or energy to think about my personal development outside of work and what I really wanted from life.
What’s more, I didn’t feel like I was showing up as the friend, partner, sibling or daughter that I wanted to be.
Truth is, everything came second to the work and I felt like I no longer knew myself outside of it.
Now, when I tuned into these feelings and got honest with myself, I realized that something needed to change.
It was scary realizing that all I’d done was be a workaholic, but I came to terms with the fact there’s no time like the present to change the dial.
You see, it wasn’t a sustainable option to continue on like I had been, so I decided it was time to draft up a new plan.
I encourage you to do the same if you’re feeling similarly. I have no regrets about my decision!
5) You’ve started getting more wound up easily
It’s normal to get a little wound up here and there.
But just like I said about the difference between tiredness and exhaustion, there’s a big difference between getting a little annoyed and finding yourself getting constantly wound up.
Getting annoyed might just mean huffing and puffing about a situation, but getting wound up could mean you respond in a way that’s explosive and even out of character.
Maybe you’ve called someone ‘stupid’ for something they’ve done or got out of your car to shout at someone.
Again, I’m not proud about it but I’ve been there.
I once called a colleague an ‘idiot’ for messing up in a presentation to a client and told them it was their fault we didn’t secure the deal.
Now, what does this mean for you?
Take note if you’re getting wound up by things that never used to bother you:
If you’re snapping at situations then it’s a sign that something needs to change…
In my experience, this behavior signals that it’s likely you need to look at all of the parts of your life closely.
It could likely signal that you’re ready to get out of the rat race for good.
6) You constantly wait for the weekend to roll around
Do you find yourself dreading Mondays and wishing it was Friday already?
If you do, you’re like many others in the rat race.
In the West, we live in a culture where people long for the weekends – and, unfortunately, a big part of that culture is drinking away any worries.
Towards the end of my time in the city, when I’d outgrown the environment, I found myself in this trap:
I’d basically have a hangover that lasted 48 hours and dread having to ‘drag’ myself to the office on Monday.
I was doing my mental and physical health a lot of harm during this time, while I was just trying to distract myself.
It went on like this for longer than it should have as I didn’t address the issue, which was I needed to get out of the rat race.
Now, our lives shouldn’t be spent in turmoil:
We should look forward to each and every day, and not find ourselves dreading what the day holds.
If you’re in this spot, know that you do deserve to feel happy and fulfilled, and it is in reach for you!
It just takes courage and a strategy to create a different reality.
Simply put: if I can do it, so can you!
7) You’re feeling like you can’t ‘hack it’
If you’re turning up to work each day and feeling like you can’t make it through the day, something needs to change.
And it needs to change sooner than later.
No one deserves to live in a constant state of feeling like they’re on the brink of tears and deeply miserable.
If you’re here, I want you to know that I get it.
I’ve been in your shoes: turning up to work and feeling like I just can’t hack it.
Simply put: I’ve wanted to run out of the building and back home to cry….
What’s more, for a long time I couldn’t actually identify what was up. I thought there was something wrong with me.
You see, I had a good job at a top company and I was on track to get the promotion I’d been longing for.
In theory, I had nothing to be upset about and all the reasons to feel grateful, happy and excited about taking the next step in my career.
However, when something isn’t in alignment with you, it’s going to cause you to feel out of sorts.
This was me when I felt like I was no longer cut out for the rat race.
I now know, three years on from leaving the city, that the pace of life and pressure was exactly what was getting me down.
Simply put: being courageous and designing a new life was the best thing I ever did.