Tag Archives: 9-5

My View of the Rat Race Four Years After Leaving It

It’s been four years since I left full time employment and embarked on my true life journey. The one to discover the real me, to be the real me. To be honest, it’s been one hell of a ride — at times like a roller coaster. Three years ago, one year after I’d left the rat race, I wrote a post about the pros and cons of ditching a career and hitting the road. I recently looked back on that article to see where I’ve come since then and I thought it timely to provide an update and reflect on those comments I made three years ago.

Adam in Morocco dressed like a Berber
Adam in Morocco dressed like a Berber

The strange fact that project opportunities beg you to go after them – Yep, it’s still the same. I have so many business ideas running around in my head that I can’t possibly complete them all. I do survive financially by doing a bit of Travelfish work, but I also get a little bit of money for a couple of web side projects. It’s pretty cool. I’ve been thinking about setting up an AirBnB in recent times, but I just need to find some time to do it!

A break in the monotony of 9-5 routines – This has been massive. There’s two things about this that are interesting. Firstly, without a boss and without a 9-5 routine, motivation becomes a big issue. But once you understand that, you can start focusing your attention to whatever project you want at whatever time you want. If you don’t feel like doing something at that time, no big deal. Just deal with it later.

And this is also where problems can arise. With no day job to keep you motivated, it’s very easy to waste your time doing nothing. And this OK for a while. But not forever. So you surround yourself with tasks you genuinely enjoy, which keep you motivated and ensure you don’t end up in a vegetative state doing absolutely nothing.

Being able to go to cafes and supermarkets on non-busy days – I now live in Indonesia and the cafes are generally the same throughout the week except maybe on a Saturday night when it’s date night. The thing I have been basing my life around recently has been traffic. If I need to go somewhere, I make sure I schedule it when traffic is least problematic. But this is one area of my life that I want to change. Even though I minimise the traffic in my life, I still find myself in it for at least a few hours a week and it’s too much. I’ll be changing that soon.

The very occasional thought of how sustainable this lifestyle is financially – This one has sorted itself out. I still have as much money now as I did when I left the rat race. Slightly less after this 4 month journey through Europe. How have I done it? I’ve lived quite frugally and have done some work for Travelfish. That’s about it really aside from a short consultancy gig I did. This life is easily financially sustainable — you just need to find your own sources of income and live in a cheap country!

The difficulty of meeting people who are travelling along the same path meaning that friendships are harder to make and keep – This is an interesting one. I still long to make real connections with people. Since I wrote the first rat race post, I met a girl and got married in Indonesia! That’s pretty cool. But I still long for friends to hang out with — that’s extremely difficult when you move around a lot. I hope to sort this problem out by moving to either Vietnam or Thailand later next year.

Not having a place to call home is sometimes unsettling – you generally end up finding a home. Everyone I know that calls themselves a nomad does settle down somewhere. Or reverts to a favourite city when feeling burnt out. It’s natural.

The lack of routine can sometimes be unsettling (I’m getting used to it) – I’m now used to it and it feels good.

Being self-consciousness of people thinking you are a bum (ego is still important) – Don’t care any more. ūüôā

And then there are a few more new observations about this whole thing. I really does appear that there are two worlds. One where people are trapped in the 9-5 and one where people have escaped. I can and do travel wherever I want, whenever I want, wake up whenever I want… and life is grand!

I have no dreaded deadline hanging over my head. I feel no sickness in the pit of my stomach on a Sunday night about going to work the next day. That’s pretty cool.

My time is my own.

I don’t think having kids would change this whole equation to the point where I’d have to go and get a proper job and a real life.

I’ve settled into this new life quite comfortably now. I don’t fear not having enough money as I have about 50 business ideas buzzing around in my head waiting for an opportunity. I just don’t see any reason why anyone wanting to escape the rat race wouldn’t just do it! If that’s you, it might be time to call it quits and hit the road. It’s a pretty cool life.

PS – I think it would be remiss of me to leave out one important fact of my life since escaping the rat race – I ended a 12 year relationship and got divorced. That’s significant and wasn’t something to be cheering about at the time.

The Real Me

I was just reflecting today on a few things. Well, one thing really. About what my natural self looks like in terms of motivation to work, creativity and general life activities. Yeah OK, that doesn’t really mean a lot, but I put it in those terms because if I was still in a normal job, it would go something like this… “What sort of worker I am – creative, hard worker, willing to stay in one career for my whole life, etc”. But since I don’t have a regular job, the things that fill the main hours within my day are the things that keep me going. What those things are is becoming clearer.

This freedom has given rise to the emergence of my passions. Things I really couldn’t identify with prior to giving up full time work. Further, I’m now starting to identify my natural behaviours in the big bad world now that I have the freedom to do whatever I want. And it’s very interesting and totally not what I expected. When I was working a proper job, I was happy to stay put for years and years on end. I was going to die in that job. I was comfortable. I was in a routine. So when I quit work, ¬†I feared I’d miss that routine (I did) and I feared that I would end up vegging for years on end, doing nothing. Quite honestly, that happened for about 9 months. Most of that 9 months was spent travelling.

Since that time, I’ve been flitting from one project to another (not always paid) and it has been a rollercoaster ride like no other! What is so interesting about it is that I realise my attention span on certain activities lasts about 3 months and then… no I don’t bored, I get inspiration for a new plan, a new trip, a new project. It’s crazy, because I’m loving learning Indonesian at the moment, but there are a bunch of other things on the horizon that are getting me very excited — even more than the learning Indonesian thing. I’m going to force myself to stick with the Indonesian thing whilst dabbling in the new projects, but it gives a very interesting insight to the type of person I am when the shackles have been thrown clear.

The other thing I think is interesting is that I find it much more difficult to be free in Australia. Basically because everything is geared towards people not being free despite the glossy brochures. I feel free in Indonesia like I have never done before. That’s not to say I don’t love Australia — I do. But it is such a refined, productive society that opportunities for great projects are difficult to come by and are usually extremely risky. Here in Indonesia, opportunities are everywhere and the risks are minimal. I’m loving it.

For some people, this will make perfect sense. I have a feeling, though, that this might not make sense to the vast majority. Make sense? Or absolute load of rubbish?

Agitate for Change or Die

Aside from all the tales of travel, a major theme of my blog has been about escaping the rat race and finding the spark that everyone had when they were in their teens – and had no real responsibilities. I harp on about it to anyone that will listen and quite often people just don’t get it. “Everyone has to have a job. Everyone has to do things they don’t like. My circumstances are different – I can’t do that.”

OK OK, say what you will. But this is how life turns out if you don’t agitate for change.

How Writing a Guide Book Fits in with my New Path

When I decided to give up work and pursue my passions, I really had no idea what I was doing. People always loved the story, but immediately asked what my passions were. And it’s a fair question to ask when it’s the reason that you’re giving up a 14 year career. I had no idea what my passions were. I still don’t have clear ideas, but things are not as impossibly muddy as they once were and fantastic opportunities have now presented themselves.

So I like travelling, I like taking photographs and I like food. I’d say that they’re as close to passions as I’ve ever had and when an opportunity to research accommodation, restaurants and activities, and take photographs for travelfish presented itself, I jumped at it. It was something that scared me, but also was exactly the sort of thing that I would never have been able to do whilst plugging away in an office and exactly the sort of thing that many dream about but never get a chance of doing. I did it and I’m proud of not just what I produced, but also that things worked out for me in terms of following a new path. This is the new path that I knew was possible, but had no idea how it would manifest. This is the sort of thing that could come along that you’d never expect if you decide to give up the 9-5 and pursue your passions, whatever they might be.

So it’s with gratitude that I write this post about travelling down a new path. And a bit of humility. After the most eventful year of my life, including ending a 12 year relationship, I can say that life is good! I’ll be approaching this new year with optimism and taking these sorts of opportunities as they arise.

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?

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

If I Had a Million Dollars

Before giving up the 9-5 I often thought about how grand life would be if I was a millionaire. I could do absolutely anything I wanted whenever I wanted without a worry in the world. But as I steamrolled towards greater financial independence through saving and a different mindset, this whole notion of money being a great liberator became somewhat diluted.

I now have a level of financial independence that allows me to travel almost anywhere, anytime and without any consideration of other factors. Yet, the world isn’t all roses. Sure, it’s much better than having to roll out of bed every morning to do something that I’m not passionate about, but the question still remains, “What am I going to do now?”

A million dollars doesn’t solve this problem. In fact, I think having financial independence in many ways brings these life questions to the fore and demands that you tackle them head-on – something which isn’t necessary when burying yourself in the 9-5. The blissful ignorance of the 9-5 allows you to hide from the deeper questions about oneself. Financial independence doesn’t.

So giving up the 9-5 for a life of greater freedom makes you face up to some tough questions whether you are ready for it or not. And boy, they are tough questions to answer.

Has your escape from the 9-5 challenged your notions of what life is all about? Can you even define it?

The Cafe is Packed – On Why Weekdays are Better than Weekends

The conventional view of the world is that weekends are great and weekdays are bad. It’s ingrained in us from an early age that weekends equal freedom and weekdays equal pain and suffering.

I recently visited my favourite cafe on the weekend for the first time ever. What a surprise. It was even more packed than usual with a line out the door and a vibe that was frantic. When you live life in the fast lane, I guess everything becomes frantic and this just becomes the norm. But for me as a person taking a slower pace, this franticness was very uncomfortable. I scoffed my food, slammed back my coffee and just sat there squeezed between the hoards wondering what to do next. This is just not like me. I can ordinarily just hang out for hours doing nothing in particular but watching the crowd and sipping on a coffee.

The realisation for me was that weekends are indeed a good time to retreat to the confines of the house in order to let the masses go about their “leisure” time. When Monday comes around, I can sing “hallelujah” ¬†and return to normal life once again.

I’ve noticed the same crowd patterns on the roads, the parks and even the supermarket. What it really means is that one can live in a crowded city and avoid most of the crowds if choosing your movements wisely.

Just forget the weekends – they’re horrendous.

What are Lifestyle Designers Searching For?

Today, lifestyle designers have embarked on a journey. Primarily due to dissatisfaction with either their own lives or the lives that they are expected to lead by society. We all know what on the surface causes this dissatisfaction. These surface issues are things like having to work the 9-5, little or no flexibility to do what you want to do and the monotony of the consumerist lifestyle. But these are just surface issues and if we fail to delve deeper, we risk treating these surface issues with surface solutions such as quitting our job and running away for a jaunt around the world. I’ve done it, we’ve all done it or are about to embark upon it. Quit your job, sell the house and run away. To account for the gap in income, go and start a new innovative business that avoids those surface issues.

It all sounds so perfect.¬† All my surface issues are gone and I’m excited about the prospects for the future. But soon the lustre of the new wears off and we are left with feelings that bubbled to surface in our first bout of dissatisfaction. But hang on! We’re now talking about our emotional state, our internal world, rather than our material world of work and home which are our external world.¬† We’re now starting to dig deeper. Of course there are ills in our external worlds, but without attention being given to our internal state, perhaps what some would call a more important and difficult proposition, we risk living an unbalanced and hollow life filled with ephemeral and fleeting gloss.

Hollowness, emptiness, the feeling of there being more out there…¬† it all resonates with the Lifestyle Designer. These are internal churnings that need attention directly rather than being glossed over as problems caused by a ¬†poor job, a consumerist society or a lifestyle dictated by cultural norms. I wish I had a solution for this, but I don’t.¬† And at the risk of alienating myself, I have a sense that it revolves somewhere around two things that most will probably find scary and off-putting .¬† Community and spirituality.¬† <gulp> The reason I am sensing that these two things are central to resolving the¬†dissatisfaction¬†issue is that these two things have really only recently disappeared from Western society.

So with that said, I think I owe it to myself to explore these concepts more closely. Does this make sense, resonate with you or sound like waffle? I’d love to get some feedback on my musings here.

Your Sense of Purpose – Quit the 9-5 and You WILL Need One

When thinking about leaving the 9-5, all I could really think about is how free I would be once I was no longer obliged to get out of bed for a day filled with tasks – tasks I was responsible for, but had no personal connection with. I think most people transferring from the 9-5 to the free think this. But once I was free of these obligations and my end-of-work holiday was finished I really didn’t know what to fill my days with. I started practicing being lazy and found others online with the same philosophy. Surely this is what it was all about! The art of doing nothing! No… It’s a cop out. It’s great to be lazy for 9-12 months, but then the “Meaning of Life” question starts to rear its ugly head. In recent times, I’ve been giving deep thought to the purpose of giving up the 9-5. Why give it up? If I’m not compelled to work full time anymore, am I compelled to do anything? If there’s no compulsion to do anything, what am I going to do!? The three points I came up with were:

Pursuit of the Arts

For the ages, artistic expression has been the mechanism by which people have communicated their inner-self in a manner that words cannot compete with. The sense of expressing my inner-self through music, dance, drawing or any other form of artistic outlet is something I want to reconnect with. I’ve never been good at drawing and many of the arts, but I have a passion for music, I’d like to learn how to dance and I’d love to expand on my photography knowledge to the point where my shots are of a professional standard.

These pursuits will be passions; activities which will feed the soul and stimulate the mind.

Self-Betterment

What use are we in the world if we can’t improve ourselves both on an emotional and intellectual level? The intellectual can be pursued through the reading of books and more formal education (whether that be skills-based or academic). The emotional is more difficult and we owe it to those around us to be the best we can be. To be a good person, to forgo judgement of others, to be a positive person. This emotional self-improvement I feel will be a life’s work. If at the end of my life I can say that I gave it a good shot, I’ll be pleased. We are such complex, emotional beasts that the struggle for improvement is destined to be a long and difficult journey, but one in which falling asleep at the wheel can be a waste of one’s life.

Abandonment of the Inane

Many people spend their work lives whiling away the time until 5pm rolls around so they can go home. Surfing the net, endlessly reading and sorting emails, chatting to work colleagues. Much of this is inane and a complete waste of your time. I found that after leaving work I fell back into old habits. Surfing the net for hours on end, constantly checking email, reading and rereading the latest news headlines, doing internet banking daily (!), searching online for stuff to do. This was the inane of my work-life creeping into my personal time. My time will now be filled with all of those things that I said I would do when I left work. Make my own cheese, take more interest in gardening, learn a bunch of new practical skills. Inane begone!

I’ve only managed to realise these issues on a deeper, more meaningful level over the past weeks as I went through some difficult times in Myanmar. This emotional turmoil in the mind lent itself to much self-reflection and an opportunity to set the course for the next chapter of my life. For me, I knew all of this on an intellectual level, but it required some serious soul-searching for it to really make sense and force me to act.

To all potential lifestyle designers, I urge you to tread carefully as this next phase is truly a make or break occasion. Fail and you may fall back into old habits from your old life (and you’ll be poorer). Succeed and you will achieve all of the life-changing experiences that you dreamed of – it just won’t be handed to you on a platter.

How did you manage your transition from the drudgery of the 9-5 to free living?