Posted by: crustynomad | May 9, 2008

Escaping the rat race and following the dream

Yesterday morning when I caught my bus into town there was a young lady at the bus stop. We don’t always see each other but we do enough to acknowledge each other when we are both there. Today we struck up a conversation.

She asked me what I did for a living and I said design and marketing and she said that she wanted to do design but the course she was on stopped and later the school closed.

I asked her what she was doing now and she told me she had a job in the freezer section of a local supermarket. I then asked if she still wanted to do design and she replied implying that she would but that it was now too late. It had been more than a year since she was studying.

I couldn’t believe it – she was only about 20-21. She had accepted her future was set as external influences had dictated so. Then my coaching skills came to the fore and I asked her some searching questions which I think hit home.

How do I know this? Well, she always sits downstairs on the bus but today she followed me upstairs and we chatted some more. You could hear the cogs turning in her head. I dunno but it felt like she understood that she could actually make a change. That her dream was still possible.

There were a few occasions where she put obstacles in the way of herself like she couldn’t afford this or not able to do that but I think it was line: “If you want it enough you will find a way of making it happen.” that made the difference.

This young person does have options though it was clear she didn’t think she had at that moment. Some people feel stifled by a career whereby you are at the beck and call of another and decide to quit the rat race. However, quitting your job to embark on a dream is not easy by any means and it very depends on your personal circumstances.

For those that are single and not happy in their work I would be wary of staying in a situation where you don’t enjoy when you do when you settle down. This is because once you do you get a number of other responsibilities that will be hard to get away from especially if you end up with children.

While you are single and your life is your own you have much more flexibility. My family relies on me to provide so all my decisions have to consider four other people too. It’s not straightforward which is why I have to consider what I do much more carefully than I used to. That job that you saw as temporary could end up being long term.

“So what if you are considering quitting your job?”

The best answer I can give is to compare that scenario with a vacation I had in 1996. I’d been on a secondment and hadn’t used any holiday in nine months. Before going back to my old job I requested a three week holiday, something that was rarely agreed to at the company in those days. As I was switching positions it wasn’t so much of an issue as my old department had managed without me anyway.

During this period I had a job to go to at the end but I was essentially unemployed with no job tasks to consider, targets to meet or meetings to attend. It’s the closest I’ve been to being out of the rat race even if my time was spent travelling and not geared towards working for myself.

My final day was Friday July 26th 1996 and wasn’t due back until Monday August 19th 1996. In that period I planned to meet with people on the first weekend in the Peak District, a week later in the Lake District and 10 days after that in the Midlands at an open air Shakespeare production. These were guidelines and not set in stone. In fact I liked the idea of surprising people by turning up out of the blue.

What I did around those dates were completely open. For instance, on that first weekend I could’ve travelled in any direction. In the end I chose North Wales but it was only then I considered going on the Ferry to Dublin. If I’d gone south I may have ended up in the Channel Islands. Who can say?

The freedom is unlike anything I’d experienced. Getting up in the morning and looking at a map. “Where shall I go today?”

One decision leads to another and opportunities present themselves with every day – you just have to grasp them. The world is full opportunities and they all around about us. There are those that see them and those that don’t. Those that take them make a difference while those that don’t just and wait and expect to be handed success on a plate. If we want change we MUST make it happen ourselves. No-one owes us a free ride.

Personally, my present situation is governed by my family. If I quit it affects my wife and children who rely on me to provide for them. This means I have certain responsibilities so I have to exercise a little caution. That has its frustrations but would I be without my family? Not a chance – it’s a price worth paying. I just need to strike the right balance between my relationships, career and personal freedom. I need to focus on what I REALLY want and make it exist in a form of reality rather than as a place in my mind.

So, in the words of Anthony Robbins – If you talk about it, it’s a dream. If you can see it, it’s a vision. But if you schedule it, it’s real.

“How much do I want this freedom?”


  1. […] think it was Tuumble who quoted Anthony Robbins (and I’m totally paraphrasing and mangling): […]

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