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Say Goodbye to the Monday Morning Meltdown

October 7, 2010

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Working for the rat race, you know you’re wasting your time.” The Specials

Picture the scene.  It’s a rainy Monday morning and you’ve just dragged yourself out of a warm bed to sit in the kitchen listening to some airhead radio DJ talking mindless gibberish.  You traipse gloomily to your car, turn on the engine and drive off … and join a mile-long tailback of cars full of more gloomy people wishing they were somewhere, anywhere, else.

You get to the office, fire up your computer and stare sullenly at the screen before settling in for eight hours of listless web-surfing and checking-up on your facebook account, broken up by the odd meeting full of bored-looking people in an airless room.

Never mind, you think, only five more days and I’ll be free.  But then, before you know it, it’s Monday again, and you’re back in that office staring at the same old screen.  Never mind, you think, only fifty more weeks and I’ll be ready for two weeks sipping margaritas in some poolside bar.  But then, (oh so soon!) you’re back in that same airless meeting room, with the same bored-looking people.

Only now you’re a year older.

Sound familiar?  Well you’re not alone.  All across the world, millions of people just like you face the same drudgery every single day.  Millions of people resigned to a lifetime chasing the corporate dollar in the vague pursuit of some marketing man’s wet dream of the ‘good life.’  You know, the one you see on the TV every day, where beautiful skinny people sit around in air-conditioned mansions or drive flash hundred thousand dollar cars around empty city streets – the same ‘good life’ that can be yours too, if you could just get that promotion, or just put in a little more overtime or, heck, maybe if you just signed up for that shiny new credit card or…

Stop right there.  There’s another way – one that you can take right now.  I’d like to help show you how.

Embrace your freedom – before it’s too late

I used to be that office drone.  Believe me, I served my time chained to that dead wood desk.  Devoted hour after hour and year after year to the endless monotony.  Until one day I turned off the computer, stood up and calmly walked out of the office – never to return.

It was the best thing I ever did.

Believe me, the world doesn’t stop the moment you close that door.  In fact, the door opens on a new world of opportunities and freedoms as soon as you make the switch.

Now my kids get to play with a happy dad every day rather than a frazzled irritable one on the weekends.  Now I get to spend a few hours each day planning and cooking my meals from scratch, instead of gulping down some processed gloop at my desk.

So, the next time you try to convince yourself that this won’t be forever, that one day you’ll stand up and tell your boss where to stick his lousy job, ask yourself one question –  do you really want to be stuck in the same old routine repeated on endless loop – until one day you turn around and you’re ready to retire?

Or this time do you want to join the growing band of brave souls prepared to make that leap, prepared to quit the same old routine and embrace a new life of creativity and freedom?  One where you escape the need to be in any particular place at any particular time, where you don’t have to take orders from corporate lifers and, here’s the clincher, where you can make enough money to live comfortably while still having the time to do all those important things you never thought you’d get around to?

Time to go sailing, spend more time with your family, pick up that book you never got around to reading or learn a new musical instrument?  Sounds like a good idea?

Thought so.

So, where do I start?

Every week in this blog I’ll be featuring:

  • Inspirational stories of like-minded people around the world who’ve escaped from the daily grind to embrace a new life of creative freedom.  People like Everett Bogue, who turned his back on the consumerist treadmill to start a new Minimalist Business that allows him to live and work from anywhere in the world.  Or Robert Wringham, who built a new location-independent life for himself that he writes about at the New Escapologist.
  • Concrete strategies that will motivate you to stop just dreaming about jumping ship and start moving towards turning your plans into reality.  Strategies like those suggested by Chris Guillebeau in his awesome Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself or Tammy Strobel in Smalltopia: A Practical Guide to Working for Yourself.
  • Ideas to help you streamline your finances and escape debt – the number one enemy of the freedom-seeker – so that you can devise your escape plan.
  • Brilliant, life-changing books, like The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta or How to Be Free by Tom Hodgkinson.

Until then, here are a few thoughts to help you move towards quitting the rat race right now.

Ignore the nay-sayers

I was sat at a party the other day chatting to a few guys when the conversation moved onto, horrors, the ‘economic climate.’

The one thing that really struck me was how completely everyone seemed to have swallowed the gloomy mantra, force-fed to us every day by TV and newspapers, that these are ‘tough times,’ that we’ve got no choice but to ‘tighten our belts’ and ‘tough it out.’

I got to explaining how I’d made a decision to ignore all that media-led whining and hand-wringing, and how I was far, far happier since I decided to quit my job and strike out on my own.

Silence.  Then one guy shifts in his chair and says, with a heavy look on his face, “As far as I see it, in this climate, (there’s that word again), you’d have to be mad to give up a permanent job.”

I sat back in my chair.  Maybe he’s right I thought, maybe this is just the way things are and you’ve just got to get on with it right?

Wrong.

In fact, now is the best time ever for switching off that computer and calmly walking out of the office never to return.  Here’s why –

Multiple income-streams are better than one.

Think about it, if you wake up one day and lose that precious ‘permanent job’ where does it leave you?  I’ll tell you, unemployed and keeping an anxious eye on your dwindling savings account (if you’ve got one that is).  Now think what would happen if, instead of relying on one 9 to 5 income source, you made money from doing three, four or five different things.

As well as writing this blog I also pick up the odd consultancy gig and work as a freelance environment journalist for five or six magazines.  If some day one of those clients pulls the plug on me I’ve still got another four or five on my books.  This means that I don’t have to hit the panic button every time I lose a little bit of work.  Instead, I can calmly work towards building up my client list to the previous level.  The main take-home point is that, if you plan things sensibly, working for yourself can be more secure than a full-time job.  If you put your eggs in lots of different baskets you greatly reduce the chances of finding yourself without an income.

Find Your Niche

Since the chances are that you probably haven’t got enough funds to support yourself independently you’ll need to figure out how to earn enough money to meet your needs once you quit.

That’s why if you’re serious about moving towards the free life one of your first tasks is to figure out what you’re good at.  I’m good at writing about green issues and alternative lifestyles but maybe you’ve got a burning passion for guerrilla gardening or vintage fashion?  Perhaps you’re a world expert on manga comics or building home-made telescopes?

Whatever it is, you need to sit down and make a detailed plan of how you can translate that passion into one, or preferably several, money-making schemes – hopefully that’s where this blog can help.  Most importantly, you’ll also need to ensure that the money you make is enough to cover your cost of living.

It might take a while but, when you get there, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that, no matter what happens, you can make money from something that genuinely excites you – that you can turn your back once and for all on the soul-destroying corporate life.  Remember, your ultimate aim is to make a living from something that is so enjoyable it can hardly be called work at all.

Stop Consuming Start Creating

Now that you’ve sailed away from the all the negativity and worked out that one thing you can offer to the world, your next step is to work on a financial escape plan.  More than anything else, going it alone is about cultivating a sense of fun, freedom and creativity in your life – but the reality is that one of the chief barriers preventing many people from quitting their job right now is badly managed finances.

Simply put, if you spend more that you earn you’ll never manage to quit the rat race.  With this in mind, one of the most important things you’ll need to do is (gulp) stop buying so much stuff.

As one wag once put it – ‘if they’ve got what you want then they’ve got you’ – meaning that if you can’t escape the prison of consumer desire you’re tied into devoting much of your precious time and life energy to earning enough money to buy junk.

Sure, it’s nice to have hot running water and somewhere to cook your food, but the plain fact is that, once you get past a certain basic level, things don’t make you happy.  Do you really think signing up to an extortionate contract for the latest smartphone is your path to contentment?  I’d argue not.

Rather, when the cumulative cost of all these monthly payments leaves you afraid to make a change in your life I’d argue that it’s definitely time to break free.

As a first step, if you’re serious about quitting the rat race I’d advise you to give top priority to sorting out your money-health and working to free yourself from debt.  To get you started, two of the best books I’ve ever read on the subject are Adam Baker’s Unautomate Your Finances and Sell Your Crap.  You can also access a host of awesome tips, strategies and other advice at Get Rich Slowly.

Rainy Day Wonder

So there you have it, a whole world of creativity and pleasure lies before you, if you can just stand up and take that vital first step.  Still unconvinced?  Then before I finish, I’d like you to take a few moments to read this passage from Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  As Dan Kieran said when he wrote about the story in inspirational magazine The Idler, ‘If you can read it without shuddering then you’ve made it.  If you can’t there’s still time, there’s always time …

“Old bureaucrat, my companion here present, no man ever opened an escape route for you, and you are not to blame.  You built peace for yourself by blocking up every chink of light, as termites do.  You rolled yourself into your ball of bourgeois security, your routines, the stifling rituals of your provincial existence; you built your humble rampart against winds, tides and stars.  You have no wish to ponder great questions; you had enough trouble suppressing awareness of your human condition.  You do not dwell on a wandering planet, you ask yourself no unanswerable questions; …No man ever grasped you by the shoulder while there was still time.  Now the clay that formed you has dried and hardened, and no man could now awaken in you the dormant musician, the poet or the astronomer who perhaps once dwelt within you.”

It’s time to cut loose.  Join me, quit the rat race today.

If you like what you’ve read here, please sign up for a free RSS or email subscription and send this post on to your friends – especially if they moan about their job a lot …  If you use Twitter or Facebook, ‘retweeting’ or ‘liking’ this would also be a great help – sharing is the only way for me to reach new readers.  See you next time!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 7, 2010 12:35 pm

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

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