• Eve Arnold

Be in the Rat Race and Pursue Your Passion

photo by Dylan Nolte on Unsplash

You can be in the rat race and be fulfilling your passion.

The idea that we need to quit our jobs in order to live a life of fulfilment and find happiness is a little bit scary. It’s scary and a little perplexing. I get it, sometimes it can feel unhealthy and scary to be in a job you don’t love.

We start falling into this pit of despair asking questions like:

“What if I get to 80 and regret never chasing my dreams?”

There is this feeling or thought that when you quit, your problems will be solved. No more meetings, no more appeasing your boss, no more corporate rubbish. And thank the lord we can bin the jargon too.

But is that really the case? Can you live a life of fulfilment and use your day job to bank roll you?

The brilliant thing about working in a big corporate company is that there is zero romance. You know where you stand. And if you don’t, I’ll tell you.

You are a number, whilst this is impersonal and blunt it’s true.

In the midst of all the politics and drama of working for a big company with lots of rules and sometimes meetings for the sake of meetings, there are some things to be thankful for in the corporate world.

A Regular Pay Cheque

The first very obvious thing is pay. This can matter a lot or a little depending on who you are but I think we all will agree that pay is a factor in deciding what to do with our lives.

You will also most likely have the benefit of a bonus.

Having a pay cheque that comes in every month, consistently, is a good thing. It gives you confidence, reassures you that life is okay and mitigates any risk. The downside of this is of course that you can’t work harder and earn more, this isn’t an effort vs reward sort of system or at least not as linear as that.

What it is though, is consistent and reliable.

You’ve Got Your Training Wheels On and That’s a Good Thing

Training. Getting your training paid for you is an excellent benefit of a big company. The plus of a big company is they probably have an internal training team. Training is a win-win for you and the company you work for.

The more skilled and up to speed with things you are the better for them and the better your CV looks. Training is also hugely transferable and any time spent learning anything and getting paid for it is a win-win.

Working and Living is a Balance — a Nice Balance in a 9–5

Another thing to think about is the work life balance. In any organisation you are contracted a certain number of hours. That means that you are expected to be there some hours and not others. This is a very clear cut picture that means it’s not that often it’s gotten wrong.

Of course the digital age has meant that work comes home with us whether we like it or not but for the most part, if you work at a place where work-life balance is respected, you’ll have a decent one.

The flip of that is working for yourself. I know people that do and they work ALOT. I mean weekends, miss important events, can’t go out at the weekend because they need to do this quote or see this customer.

And some of that comes with the reward of earning more, managing your own time, being flexible but that isn’t the reality of starting up. In the early years of getting anything off of the ground it is hard work, long hours and not too much reward.

There might be this idea that working for yourself is uber flexible and you can do what you want but if you need the work and a customer says they’re free at 5pm, it looks like you’re going to have to be available at 5pm.

Flexible working time is paving the way for work and life to become a little more harmonious, so as long as you do your hours, when you do them isn’t a huge deal. That means you can start early and finish early or need to leave early because you’ve got the plumber coming, that’s cool work a bit later tomorrow.

The ability to work flexibly is a huge plus.

Working From Home is a Negotiable

That also leads me on to working from home. The corporate world is realising the benefit of letting it’s employees work from home. For most people this means no more ridiculously early mornings, more family time and that the very least, the house looks a little cleaner.

This, in reality, will only be encouraged more once the corporate world realises nothing changes when people work from home. There are mutual benefits for both company and employee of working from home. And as pollution becomes the most important thing on big corporate’s agenda, working from home is a no brainer.

It’s really worth considering. Being able to work from home means that you no longer need to get a house within 10 miles of the office. It means that you could live by the sea or in the middle of nowhere. For a lot of people one of the reasons they don’t love corporate life is the expectation of going into the office everyday. That expectation has a knock-on effect in life.

With that taken away, the world is your oyster.

You Can Optimise Your Time Outside the Rat Race

The work life balance also links to what you can spend your spare time doing and thus your exit plan. For most of us, we go to work and do the day job but we have our outside passions.

Sometimes we don’t know what our passion is (I’ll come on to that) but most people spend their time outside of work doing the things they love. Having a job that you only have to work your eight hours a day in means you can do that. You can spend your time outside of work figuring out what it really is you want to do.

There is a brilliant book all about this called ‘When to Jump’ by Mike Lewis. Mike had a passion for squash, not the vegetable, the sport. He talks about how he managed to cultivate his time outside of work to become a professional squash player. Mike talks about the small steps you can make whilst you have a job to pursue your dreams.

He finds other people along his journey that have also had similar stories. People that have always had a passion for making clothes so they do it in their down time. Then they leave their day job when they’ve been making clothes alongside their work for a year and have enough clients to sustain them.

If you really want to get out of a ‘decent’ job because you have a burning passion to build or you love music or whatever it might be, start small in your downtime.

Your Exit Plan — Can Include Being in the Rat Race

This brings me on to the exit plan. To exit you need a runway and in this case the runway is money.

Now I’m not talking a few hundred quid here and there — I’m talking saving upwards of 65% of your income. Which I’m guessing sounds hard but in reality it isn’t. The first thing to start with is this isn’t impossible, it just needs some crafty thinking.

We live in a world of total abundance. If you want something new you can buy it on credit and have it delivered tomorrow. We’re no longer repairing the holes in our t-shirts, we’re just buying new ones.

  1. How many clothes are sat in your wardrobe with the tags on?

  2. When was the last time you bought a new pair of trainers?

  3. Did you use all your minutes last month or did you pay forty quid for a phone contract because it was the latest one?

Look this isn’t a judgement, ultimately you do you, however it’s a worthwhile conversation to have if you don’t want to retire at seventy or whatever crazy age it is these days. The question is why:

  1. Buy more trainers when you can only wear one pair?

  2. Pay more for a phone contract when you don’t use it?

  3. Buy a new phone when the one you’ve got works?

The thing is — whatever you buy will be old tomorrow.

Make Dreams More Financially Viable in the Rat Race

If you learn to save now and I mean saving the majority of your income and living frugally, you’ll reap the rewards in the future.

A lot of people are on the quest to find what gives them pure joy and most people would adore doing that for a living — it usually takes a little more than a sit down and writing down the ‘what am I good at list’ to nail it.

In reality it takes so much back and forth, trying and failing, learning, listening, being honest about what works and what doesn’t and then even then you probably won’t find it. You might think you have it and then you realise you don’t and that’s the fun I guess — the journey.

So be patient but be very self-aware.

  1. Spend the time figuring it out — on their time. It’s hard to figure out what you want to do but you can do it alongside this job — trust me, I do. Spend the time testing, questioning, learning, failing on their time and money. If you use this for a testing ground, when you’re ready to jump into whatever you want to do with your life, you will already have had the lessons from this job to take with you.

  2. Spend your time outside of work and the weekends learning what you are passionate about, use the combination of time outside and inside work to get qualified in something. So if you have a real passion for carpentry or accounts, take a night course and then spend the time in work doing your job and on top of that speaking to the accounts department or researching wood… whatever floats your boat.

You don’t need to quit the rat-race to be living your dreams.

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