Happier Career: Escaping The Rat Race

Anyone over 40 likely knows of the phrase: “escaping the rat race”. It was a pipe dream for many, at least back in the 1980s/1990s.  Most thought their work destiny inevitably led to commuting to a large organization, playing corporate warrior, and then repeating. Endlessly. Having to deal with face time, organizational politics, rigid schedules, and company policies were/are the bane of career existence for many. This work world still exists but, while still a dominant paradigm, is fading.  

The desire for greater work-life balance was the first force that led many to reconsider the daily repetitive grind. The endless repeat is the biggest issue for most, particularly parents who feel angst about not spending time with their children.  

The start-up world of Internet companies led to a different ethos.  Those in such companies worked just as hard but face time, rigid schedules, and corporate politicking became radically less important.  

Further shifts that accelerated the ability for entrepreneurial ventures of all sorts increased the movement away from the rat race.  

I don’t want to pretend that those who are untethered from the rat race live in a utopian work world.  The challenges from not being an organization can be significant.  But for those who have successful work outside of the rat race, work life is pretty great.

I pause when I tell my escape from the rat race story as it smacks of one of those ridiculous self-help gurus blathering on about how great their lives are. My morning walks with my wife on the beach (we live in Shoreline, Connecticut), my early afternoon meditation (well, ok, napping!) and my lengthy exercise workout all stem from may ability to head into the office at my choosing.

My recent work with a whole host of clients who have moved to a self-created work world may ultimately prove to my most fulfilling work.  They report that not only did our career counseling work change their work lives but dramatically changed their overall happiness and well-being.