Lifestyle Design

My View of the Rat Race One Year After Leaving It

Check out my update now that it has been four years since leaving the rat race!

I had the great privilege of being able to leave the traditional 9-5 lifestyle just over a year ago for horizons unknown. A year on, I still don’t know where I’m headed and I’m OK with that. Some people after leaving the 9-5 have a strong desire to get their teeth stuck into something that gives their life meaning. Me, I’m just happy to cruise along, attacking mini-projects as they cross my path.

So now that I’ve been out of the rat race for a year, what are my observations?


  • The total freedom to do whatever you want, when you want (it really is as good as it seems);
  • Choosing sleeping patterns that suit your body (joy);
  • The strange fact that project opportunities beg you to go after them (eg Writing a travel guide, exploring photographic opportunties and management consultancy);
  • A break in the monotony of 9-5 routines;
  • Everything is as finite as you choose it to be – That is, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel no matter how dire things are (really important for me!);
  • Being able to go to cafes and supermarkets on non-busy days;
  • Travelling outside of peak periods;
  • Above all, little stress.


  • The very occasional thought of how sustainable this lifestyle is financially (is this too good to be true?);
  • The difficulty of meeting people who are travelling along the same path meaning that friendships are harder to make and keep;
  • Not having a place to call home is sometimes unsettling;
  • The lack of routine can sometimes be unsettling (I’m getting used to it);
  • Being self-consciousness of people thinking you are a bum (ego is still important).

So it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. But the main thing that has reminded me of the stress levels of the 9-5 is a cafe I frequent only during the week. Recently I visited it on the weekend and the vibe was not relaxed. It was hectic, people seemed to be enjoying themselves, but everyone was so amped up that the stress transferred right into me. I left the place jittery! I couldn’t cope with it.

So whilst I never say ‘never’, I just can’t see myself travelling down that path anymore.

Love to hear your thoughts.

5 replies on “My View of the Rat Race One Year After Leaving It”

Hi Adam, I love to read stories of people leaving their unsatisfying jobs! Although I’m not traveling much, I’ve been working for myself since 2003 and I love it. I don’t know if I could deal with the stress of a regular job and rush hour anymore, as it’s so much better to commute to my living room.

I’m two months into my sabbatical/career break and while I do worry about things you mentioned under Cons’, I keep thinking positive and simply embrace everything that come my way. And one thing I keep in mind: I am not the first person doing this, and while everyone is different, I know things will be okay at the end, and if not okay, well, it’s not the end then, is it? 🙂

I think the social aspects of this sort of lifestyle are more problematic for orang indonesia because of the obsession with social status.

A good way to approach the plan is to ask yourself what the absolute worst case scenario is. For most people it is this. You simply go and get another job like the one you had before and continue on… so the worst case scenario is actually the one you are living. Frightening!

People have the idea that in order to be happy they must be like everyone else, and have the material things that offer them that standard of life. Saying things like oh well I may die tomorrow might as well get it. The truth of the matter is you might live longer than you think.

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