Motivation Monday: The Rat Race

Round and round on society’s hamster wheel you go. Round and round on your pursuit of happiness. A never-ending and futile rat race to reach an ideal that seems to always lie just around the corner.

We’re all in this rat race together. Just like the rats in the maze experiments, we are all scrambling to be the first to reach the cheese. Yet, this race is not easy, it’s not exactly the hunger games either? But what happens if at the end of all that struggle you get the cheese only to realize that you don’t even like cheese?! What then?

Pursuit of Happiness, The Rat Race – A Short Film Animation By Steve Cutts

The race of a lifetime

The pursuit of happiness is a never-ending race. In the long run, we can work harder and harder but the results will not always be there to justify all the hours we’ve put in. We’re told from a young age that we need to choose a direction in life, make a living, earn money in order to sustain ourselves and the list goes on and on. But no one ever really explains why we run the race.

We grow up with tales of what waits for us at the end of the race. The rewards, the grandeur, the success and power, and we are made to believe that we want these things. And so it begins, the chase, the thrill, the competition, the race of a lifetime. We’re hyped and we spend our formative years preparing in starting blocks. Ready, set, and out of the institution doors we go; ready to race. Ready to conquer life and get a taste of that cheese we’ve heard so much about.

The Pursuit of ‘Cheeziness’

What puzzles me is that we are in the same race lusting for that same piece of cheese (form of happiness). If you have never stopped to think, in your grand pursuit of happiness, who you are and what makes you happy. How on earth does it make sense to chase society’s cut-and-paste happiness formula? Especially when you are dedicating most, if not all, of your life to this pursuit. It seems almost careless to dedicate such a large part of your life to a copy-paste-ready-made solution and hope, that it fits your puzzle. It’s too much to leave up to chance. You deserve to take more control of your own life and happiness, whatever that may be. You deserve to make better use of your time.

There is more to life than the chase

But what of those who can see beyond the hamster wheel? For those who wonder if there are other ways to get to the ‘cheese’ at the end of the maze? Or for those who wonder if there is more to life than cheese? Not all of us are cut out for that kind of life. It’s a bit morbid but most of us will spend our lives running until we get old. Only to realize that we find ourselves in more or less the same spot as where we started. What then of all the time you wasted on going absolutely nowhere or better yet ending up somewhere you never wanted to be?

Rat Race – A cartoon by Polyp.org.uk

What does it all mean, though? To the ones who spend their whole lives running, the sad truth is that working harder, running faster does not ensure that you get to where you need to go any faster. What a tough lesson it is, to learn that hard work alone does not necessarily get you there. It completely contradicts what we are taught in our formative years.

Is there a way out?

But let’s be fair here. Not everyone is keen to escape. It’s only to the few that feel wary and feel that they don’t belong. To those I say: there is more to life, IF you are willing to go beyond the norm. Instead of just working harder, work smarter.

Go beyond the routine, get off the wheel, break down the wall of the maze, escape the rat race! Big words, and probably easier said than done. But how do you know for sure that you are ready to make the big leap? You can start by asking yourself the following four questions:

  1. Do you like where your future is headed?
  2. Are you OK treading into uncharted territory or willing/able to take a step back?
  3. Can you handle the worst-case scenario?
  4. Is money your main motivation in life?

Through out all of this, time is our most valuable asset. To the ones who want more out of this life, trading time for money is not an option. Instead, focus on ways to optimize your time in order to increase your output and think outside the box. Instead, learn to hack your time!

Takeaways

Ask yourself? Where do you find yourself? Knees deep in the rat race or looking in from the outside? Have you found your place or are you not willing to trade your time for money after all? Whether or not you choose to stay in the game or start a whole new race where you aim to be better than you were yesterday, it remains essential for you to understand the importance of your time. Optimize your asset and become a time hacker!


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“I’m going to enjoy every second, and I’m going to know I’m enjoying it while I’m enjoying it. Most people don’t live; they just race. They are trying to reach some goal far away on the horizon, and in the heat of the going they get so breathless and panting that they lose sight of the beautiful, tranquil country they are passing through; and then the first thing they know, they are old and worn out, and it doesn’t make any difference whether they’ve reached the goal or not.” 
― Jean Webster

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