How to Escape the Rat Race and Live the Life you Want

How to escape the rat race

How to escape the rat race

Are you sick of working? Do you wish you could escape the rat race, quit your 9/5 job, and spend the rest of your life doing what you really love? I might have something for you.

It is very easy to get stuck in what appears for most of us to be the only path that exists: working 40 years and retiring at 65 hoping that we will be lucky enough to enjoy at least a few years of retirement before becoming sick or passing away. But, is it really the only option we have?

Unfortunately, in this article, I’m not going to give you any magical pill or get-rich-quick schemes to escape the rat race, because there aren’t any, but I will provide you with different perspectives that will invite you to reconsider your current lifestyle and, I hope, open doors to new opportunities in your life. In the end, it is you who must decide what lifestyle suits you the most and what you are ready to do to escape the rat race. You CAN escape the rat race, but will you?

In this article I will talk about 4 different lifestyles (+ 1 bonus lifestyle). To make it easy to understand I caricatured each style so bear with me for the sake of the demonstration.

Here are the 4 lifestyles:

  1. Traditional 9/5 job lifestyle
  2. Passion-oriented lifestyle
  3. Vacation-oriented lifestyle
  4. Early retirement lifestyle

1. Traditional 9/5 Job lifestyle

It is the most common one by far. You have a traditional 9/5 job and you just hate it. You aren’t really growing, you are certainly not excited about your job, but you are making a decent amount of money, which allows you to live a comfortable life with a nice house, a nice car and everything else you need. In order to sustain you current lifestyle you’ll have to work until 65 at a job you don’t like, wishing everyday you could escape the rat race and do what you love. Is it you?

2. Passion-oriented lifestyle

You are spending time doing what you love every single day. You get up in the morning excited to start the day, and work doesn’t look like work to you. You may not be earning a lot of money, but you do what you love and are satisfied with what you have since you aren’t a heavy spender. Your house may be smaller and your car older and cheaper than your neighbor, but it doesn’t really bother you.

My guess is that most people aren’t that lucky because they haven’t really found out what they love to do. (See Step 4: Find Your Life Purpose). Steve Jobs in a famous speech said “You’ve got to find what you love” and I have to agree with him on that. If you haven’t find your passion yet, I invite you to keep looking even if it takes you decades to figure it out!

3. Vacation-oriented lifestyle

You alternate work and vacations. You generally take a few months of vacations every year or take one-year break from time to time. Because you are enjoying long breaks, obviously you aren’t making as much money as people working all year long, but you have few needs and a simple lifestyle so it is not a problem for you.

It might be difficult for you to have a career and climb the corporate ladder, but, hey, you had no plan in the first place to fully join the rat race so you have nothing to complain about!

Your free time offers you the opportunity to learn new skills that may help you generate some revenues in the coming years if chosen wisely. The biggest benefit from that lifestyle is that you don’t have to wait for retirement to enjoy your life. You clearly don’t know how long you will be around and whether you will be healthy enough to enjoy your life after retirement? Is it your lifestyle?

4. Early retirement lifestyle

You are determined to get out of the rat race as fast as possible. You don’t follow the usual “save 10% of your income and invest it for your retirement” mantra that investors love so much. Why? Because you have absolutely no plan to hang around for 40 years! You’re not playing in the same league. Your personal mantra is rather “I save 60 to 80% of my income and invest it until I have enough money to leave the system”. Then you can start focusing on what I really want to do. When you save such amount of money each month that totally changes the game, doesn’t it? In fact, in extreme cases, some people manage to retire in their 20s after working for only 5 years!

No. For you, no vacations on exotic beaches where you spend most of your savings accumulated during the year to make sure that you will never get out of the hamster wheel. No expensive cars, branded clothes or luxury houses. You must break free as soon as possible!

So what is your favorite lifestyle?

More about early retirement

Now, Let me explain more in detail about the early retirement lifestyle as it is particularly appealing, especially for those of you who aren’t particularly materialistic.

To put it very simply here is how it works:

  1. Save 60 to 80% of your income
  2. Invest your money in index funds (or other assets but make sure you know the risks involved!)
  3. Retire when you have enough passive income from investment to sustain a similar lifestyle until you die (Of course, the more frugal you are, the early you can retire)

Can you really save 60~80% of your income?

Obviously, the higher your salary is, the easier it will be for your to save money. However, don’t think that you need to be rich to adopt that lifestyle. This method is totally possible with an average salary and you will find people online that have done it. You don’t necessary need to save 60% or more, but the more you save the easier you will be able to retire.

Here is what this lifestyle involved:
– Live in a smaller house or apartment close to your working place
– Don’t own a car (or buy a cheap one and only if you really need to)
– Cook your own meal and avoid going out for dinner (it is likely to be healthier too)
– Buy very little clothes. Occasionally, you may buy expensive clothes like jackets if you know you will wear them for 10 years or more, or if they have a high reselling value
– Buy only second-hand stuff, and with a high reselling value when possible (nowadays most of the second-hand products are only a fraction of the original price. Say thank you to your consumerist friends!)
– Repair or make your own stuff if necessary
– Don’t buy anything unless you really need it
– Have inexpensive or free hobbies like walking, running, reading, having a coffee with your friends etc. (Whenever possible, choose hobbies that may turn into future revenues. If you like to study, use your free time to build valuable skills like writing skills, programming skills, blogging…)

As you may have noticed by now, here we aren’t talking about luxury retirement where you can go cruising all year long (You could very well spend much of your time in beautiful but inexpensive countries though). This lifestyle assumes that you’ll maintain the same frugal lifestyle that you had before so that you can live out of your passive income without using your capital assets.

However, financially speaking it is not as bad as it sounds since it assumes that you won’t generate any revenue at all after you « retire », but in fact:

  • You are very unlikely to completely retire. You will likely work part-time, create a new business or even work full-time if you feel like it. What is really awesome is that you will have enough money to live (simply) without having to work and will be able to focus on what truly matters to you. For self-actualization and creativity work that’s fantastic! Imagine what you could do if you had the time and the safety net to focus on what you really love.
  • You have a lot of time to learn new things that could turn into future revenues. For instance you could learn skills that allows you to work as a freelancer online (writing, design, programming…)
  • You may inherit from your family (though I wouldn’t count on that!)
  • You will likely collect some money from social security or pension plan in the future

As you can see, technically speaking, rather than a retirement, it is more like an escape plan allowing you to leave the system and giving you the safety net to focus on what you love.

BONUS lifestyle: Very early retirement lifestyle

This lifestyle is the early-retirement lifestyle on steroids! It adds online passive incomes to the early retirement lifestyle and requires you not only to save most of your income, but also to spend your free time building online passive income to escape the rat race even earlier. There are different ways to generate passive income online such as:

  • Affiliate marketing (selling someone else product on your website). It is what I’m doing just right below.
  • Creating your own products (Ebooks, Online courses, podcasts…). I’ve personally been using K Money Mastery (affiliate link) comto help me  publish ebooks on Amazon. I highly recommended it to you if you want to start generating passive income online.
  • Putting ads on your blog etc.

You don’t necessary need to have a blog to generate passive income online but it is generally better. Building passive income requires hard work and is definitely not easy! However, it is certainly very appealing. So if you happen to have something you are passionate about, or have a nerdy side, building a blog in your free time could be a great way to get started.

Note on investment

Most financial advisors will tell you to save at least 10% of your income and to invest it, and it is indeed a wise thing to do. Simply saving 10% of your income each month until you retire at 65 should provide you with enough money for retirement. Of course, if you want to retire early and have a safety margin, you should save and invest more! (Learn more here: Myth #3 Mutual Funds – Are You Investing Your Money Wisely? )

What lifestyle should you choose?

In this article I provide you with 5 different lifestyles that have each their benefits and their drawbacks. None of these lifestyles rely on get-rich-quick schemes and they all come with their own set of challenges. Some of them may seem impossible to you, but, it is mainly because you have hardly heard of them before. Or, maybe, because you aren’t ready to trade your little comfort and take a leap of faith to do what you really want to do. Give them some thoughts.

In the end it is up to you to decide how much free time you want, how much money you need and on what term you want to retire.
I hope that you’ll use this simple roadmap to reconsider what really matters to you in life and make sure you are taking the path that is right to you. Everyone’s situation is different, but,  hopefully, this article will open your eyes on what is possible for you, and will help you escape the rat race!

So which lifestyle do you choose? Leave me a comment below and share with me your ideal lifestyle.


Some resources to go further

On finding what you love

On passive income

  • Smartpassiveincome.com If you want to build passive income online it is a great site to start with. There are many podcasts and free resources and the guy who run the blog is totally honest and transparent.
  • K Money Mastery  A step-by-step method for making money with Kindle publishing that I’ve been using myself.

On early retirement

On investing


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2 thoughts on “How to Escape the Rat Race and Live the Life you Want”

  1. Very thought provoking article Thibaut. For me, it’s got to be number 2, the passion orientated lifestyle. I agree you don’t need a lot of money to be happy or inspired but why spend any days of your life doing things you don’t want to do and being places you don’t want to be. I can’t wait 5 or 10 years for that.

    1. Hello Joe. Thanks for the comment! I think everybody is different. Leaving your job to do what you love might be a scary thing to do so people might want to use their free time to build the skills they need to create the life they want. It is not all black or white. Some people might have an “okay” job, or might want to learn as much as they can from their job before quiting and building their own business. Other people have a family and need to take that into account while considering their options. Having said that, I do not recommend people to stay at a job they hate for 5 to 10 years!

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