The Rat Race (And Why I think it's Good)

4 Nov, 2009 Phil Money, Starting Up

Rats.   Not everyone’s favourite animal.  Rats are typically pest-like vermin.   Creatures of habit, they virtually live their lives as one big routine.  Humans, are similar to rats on a multitude of levels – it’s actually quite scary.   Rats are quite intelligent really, (more than some humans I’ve met), but what exactly do rats do for us?  (Bear with me here…)

Rats appear capeable of a complex form of thinking - before known to exist only in humans and other primates — the capacity to reflect on what they do or do not know.

“If rats can do it, this capability may be more widespread than imagined,” explained Jonathon Crystal, a comparative psychologist at University of Georgia, US of A.

Humans often are aware of what knowledge they possess or lack and what they are or are not capeable of. 

So the rat-race definition:  ‘An exhausting routine that leaves no time for relaxation’.   Sound all too familiar?

The rat-race nowadays (for me at least), equals waking up too early to get through the traffic on my ride into work.  Once at work, the mundane activities of completing my role see me merely counting down the time I have there.   This blog is my starting journey from the world of employment into full time web entrepreneurship.   My ‘job’ is  pretty dull stuff to be honest and I jump at the chance of doing something different, just to break up several parts of my day in the desperate hope that time actually quickens somehow.   Come 5pm, I’m out the door a few seconds past and beginning my epic rush-hour journey home.  A 20 minute journey takes me over an hour most days… and it generally frustrates me endlessly.  But I LOVE IT.  Am I in love with driving?  No.   Am I insane?  Maybe.  

The reason I actually like the the rat-race, is it has indirectly inspired me from the start of my online business plan and it constantly motivates me every single day to achieve success with my online business and get me out of the rat-race… and soon.   Think about how great a tool it is to drive into work - constantly dreaming of the day I don’t need to do it anymore.   I’m sure that everyone in your workplace hate their job (apart from passionate people who love doing what they do, which is fine)  but everyone wishes they didn’t have to work anymore.   Funny thing is, if they used their energy in a more positive direction, they actually wouldn’t have to. 

 So why do 95% of people stay in the rat-race?   Truth is, most people feel they are stuck in the ‘routine’ for various reasons; security, money, mortgage etc.   Guess what, business owners have the same costs, the same mortgages, the same monthly outgoings (if not more).   They just chose to life live differently.  They took the leap of faith into the unnown and embraced the risk for the chance of freedom.    Success and freedom is simply a choice.    This has been preached millions of times by every motivational speaker you can think of.   Success is just a choice, yet most won’t take the first step.   That’s where you and I differ as people…

By reading my blog, I’m assuming that you’re looking to get off the paycheck-to-paycheck treadmill or to drop out of the rat race altogether.   Here’s what you’ll need: a solid plan for how you’ll spend your time and a way to either earn dramatically more or spend much, much less.

This is not an impossible dream.   Back in 2004, 7.5 million U.S. households had $1 million in assets, not including their homes.   The number of people worth £5 million has quadrupled in the past 10 years and now numbers nearly 1 million.

So how do you get there?

  • Set goals and have a long-range plan to reach them.


  • Automate deposits to retirement and savings accounts, so you won’t be tempted to spend that money.


  • Pay down your debt.  Get them cleared so you can start a business ‘fresh’.


  • Figure out ways to build your savings, even if you have to play mental games with yourself.  Small little changes, can have big effects over time.


  • Take inspiration from the many who quietly gained wealth by saving religiously and investing wisely, whose homes and cars don’t scream “rich”.  Ther’ll be plenty of opportunity in the future to spend on flash cars and houses etc, but you need to get there first.


  • Get some business education. That may mean holding a desk job for several years or taking classes.   Learn how to learn and study your market and how your web business will fit into it.   Become an expert by researching constantly.


  • Pick partners who complement and enhance your strengths.



  • Write a solid business plan.   Your plan should be able to champion your idea to potential investors in the future.   It is also vital for steering your web business and a great resource to check back regularly to make sure you are still on track to your initial goal.


  • Raise money.  Don’t depend on your credit card to carry you in the first six months, when you’re unlikely to be making a profit.   Whatever your budget is at the start, there will be likely a few unexpected costs you didn’t think of initially.   Expect that.   It’s not a bad thing, it’s just part of building a business.


  • Don’t immediately quit your day job (like me).   Markets change all the time, so make sure you are hitting a constant income for a good few months consistently before deciding to leave.  It will make leaving your job all the more sweeter when it happens.   Understand what ‘Delayed Gratification’ truly means.


  • Develop self-discipline.  It’s a lot harder to meet demands you’ve imposed on yourself than those of a 9-to-5 employer.   Put in plenty of work and energy.  Luckily, with most web companies, the biggest push of energy and time will be at the start as most web businesses will require less once the site is launched.   Think  the mentality:  ’I do today what others don’t, so that in the future I’ll do, what others can’t’.  I love this quote.


To many, ditching the rat race means downshifting to a less demanding and more fulfilling career.  That’s understandable and perfectly OK.  But to me, and hopefully most web entrepreneurs, leaving the rat-race means ending employment alltogether and becoming a self-made success story.

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About Phil

Phil is creative director at PSM Digital but also freelances with web design and SEO in Manchester, UK. He researches and studies online business, along with the latest technological advances and development in design, SEO and social media.

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About The One Man Mission...

Hi I’m Phil. Welcome to my blog, where you’ll find useful information on web design, development and online business advice.  I’m a creative director for a digital agency in Manchester, UK and I also freelance web design also.  Currently setting up and developing a new online business, I am here...

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