How to Escape the 9 to 5: Leaving the Rat Race

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Escape the 9 to 5. Leaving the Rat Race

Are you tired of feeling stuck in your job? Do you feel like you’re just going through the motions day after day? 

The 9 to 5 grind isn’t for everyone, but it’s the “normal” life that most of us fall into by default.

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Millions of people are stuck in jobs they don’t like, and they feel like there’s no way out. 

It’s hard to be motivated when you don’t enjoy your job, and it’s even harder to escape the 9 to 5 when you don’t have a plan.

We’ve put together a guide on leaving the rat race so you can start living life on your own terms. Below, you’ll find tips on how to create a plan of action and make the leap into more rewarding self-employment.

What Is the Rat Race?

The “rat race” is a term used to describe the stresses and monotony of working a traditional 9 to 5 job. It’s often used to describe how people feel trapped in their work, like they’re just going through the motions day after day with no end in sight. 

The rat race can be demoralizing and exhausting, leaving people feeling unfulfilled and stuck. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to get caught up in the rat race and lose sight of what you really want in life. 

What Does It Mean to Escape the Rat Race?

Escaping the rat race involves taking control of your life and career. It’s not about leaving work entirely. It’s about finding work that you’re passionate about and building a lifestyle you love. 

When you find work that’s fulfilling and rewarding, you free yourself from the stresses and monotony of a traditional soul-sucking job. You have more time and freedom to do the things you love, and you can focus on what matters most to you. 

Why Does Everyone Want to Escape the Rate Race?

Although traditional jobs are the default in our culture, many people would love to find a way out. Here are some of the most significant reasons.

Increased Freedom and Flexibility

In a traditional corporate job, you’re usually stuck working the same hours every day with very little flexibility. If you want to take a vacation or take a day off, you need to get approval from your boss and plan well in advance. 

When you’re not bound by these restrictions, you have more control over your time. You can take vacations when you want, work from home or wherever you’re traveling to, and set your own schedule. 

Better Work-Life Balance

A traditional job doesn’t always allow for a good work-life balance. If you’re working long hours it can be hard to find time for your family, friends, and hobbies. 

When you have more control over your schedule, you can create a better balance between work and the rest of your life. You can make time for the things you enjoy outside of work, and you won’t have to sacrifice your personal life for your career.

More Satisfying Work

Many people want to escape the rat race because they’re not satisfied with their work. They may not enjoy their job, or they may feel like they’re not doing something that’s meaningful to them. 

When you find work that you’re passionate about, it’s more likely to be satisfying and rewarding, even if you’re working the same number of hours. You’ll feel good about what you’re doing, and you won’t dread going to work every day.

Improved Financial Security

Aside from the benefits above, self-employment also offers the potential for higher income and a better financial situation. Many people in traditional jobs are living paycheck to paycheck and it’s very difficult to get ahead.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that self-employment will lead to a better financial situation, but you’ll have the ability to increase your income without relying on a boss to give you a raise. If you earn a higher income, it’s yours.

Ways to Escape the 9 to 5

If you’re not happy with your traditional job, what alternatives do you have? Here are five different ways people are able to leave the rat race.

1. Start an Online Business

Woman with an online business

One of the most common alternatives to a traditional job is to start an online business. There are many different online business models you can choose from, but some of the most common types of business that people start include blogs, niche websites, e-commerce, print-on-demand, online education (courses), and video content (YouTube channel).

There’s no doubt that starting and growing an online business requires a lot of work and commitment. However, the hours are completely flexible and you can work from home or anywhere with an internet connection. Even though you may be working just as many hours, you’ll benefit from the flexibility and the freedom it provides.

Of course, running your own business also comes with unlimited income potential. Many people are able to earn six and seven-figure incomes (and beyond) through an online business. There’s no guarantee that you’ll have success, but the opportunity is there. Unlike a traditional job, your income isn’t limited to a certain range that’s considered fair or appropriate for a specific job title.

The biggest downside of going this route is that it takes time to build your business and make money online. You may need to put in months or even years of work before you see the payoff. You’ll need some patience and a long-term focus to stick with it if you want to become a successful entrepreneur.

Starting an online business is an excellent option not only because of the unlimited income potential, but also because you may be able to scale back your hours as the business grows. With most online business models, you can easily hire others to do the majority of the work, essentially removing yourself from all or part of the daily operations.

2. Freelance

Freelancer working remotely

Another excellent option is to offer a service as a freelancer. Unlike the online business models discussed above, freelancing still involves trading your time for money. But unlike a traditional day job, you can choose when and where you work. You can also choose the clients you work with and the projects you take on.

There are many different services you can offer as a freelancer, including writing, design, coding, social media marketing, consulting, and more. Chances are, you already have some skills or experience that would be valuable as a freelancer. Maybe your current job or a job from the past allowed you to develop valuable skills. Or maybe one of your hobbies helped you to sharpen skills in a specific area that you could monetize.

Although freelance isn’t as sexy as running an online business that doesn’t involve client work, there are some significant advantages of this opportunity:

  • You can use your existing skills. You may not need to develop any new skills.
  • You can start making money right away. There’s no need to wait months or years for your business to turn a profit. You’ll be making money as soon as you land your first client.
  • Good hourly rate. Most freelancers are able to charge an hourly rate that allows them to earn a nice income.
  • Possible to scale. As your business grows, you could hire others to do the work for you. You could move from a freelancer to an agency owner.
  • Better chances of success. Simply put, freelancing is a more realistic option for most people than starting an online business, because the chances of success are higher.

Depending on the job you’re doing now, it’s possible that you could do very similar work as a freelancer. Instead of working for someone else, you’d be working for yourself and your clients.

3. Get a Remote Job

Remote worker

If you’re not interested in starting your own business and you don’t want to be a freelancer, another excellent option is to get a remote job.

With a remote job, you’ll still be working for someone else but you’ll have the freedom to work from home or anywhere with an internet connection. Some remote jobs also offer flexible hours. Many companies that offer remote jobs allow their employees to set their own schedules. For these reasons, remote work could be an option if you want to become a digital nomad.

There are many different types of jobs that can be done remotely. Since 2020, a growing number of companies have started offering remote work opportunities.

Working a remote job won’t give you the same income potential as starting your own business or freelancing, but it will give you more flexibility and may allow you to improve your work-life balance. Many people spend an hour or more commuting to a job each day. Imagine what you could do with an extra 5+ hours every week!

4. Passive Income

Woman enjoying passive income

Most people have a job because they need income to cover living expenses. But if you have income from other sources, your job may not be necessary.

With a passive income stream, you’ll be earning money without having to trade your time for money. This could involve investing in real estate, stocks, bonds, or other investments.

Potentially, there’s also some overlap with the first option of starting an online business. You might be able to earn passive income by creating and selling an online course, writing books or e-books, or other types of online businesses.

Everyone loves the idea of passive income (who wouldn’t want money without the need to work for it?). However, earning enough passive income to cover your living expenses is not easy to accomplish.

If you’ve been building up an investment portfolio for years, living off dividends may be possible. But for most people, passive income is a supplemental rather than a primary source of income. As a result, passive income is not the most practical way for the average person to escape the 9 to 5.

5. Retirement

Retired couple

Of course, the ultimate way to escape the rat race is to retire. If you have enough saved up, you could potentially retire, either at the traditional retirement age or earlier.

It’s also important to note that the term “retirement” means different things to different people. Now more than ever, many people who consider themselves to be retired are still working and earning money in some capacity. It could be a side hustle or freelancing, but they’ve retired from the full-time job that held them back from the life they wanted.

Retirement and financial freedom are the ultimate goals, but you don’t have to wait until you can completely retire to get more satisfaction out of your day-to-day life. By running your own online business or freelancing, you may be able to see a drastic improvement in the quality of your life.

How to Escape the 9 to 5

Now, let’s look at the specific steps you can follow. These steps can be followed if you’ve chosen to start an online business or freelance as a way to (hopefully) leave your traditional job behind. Those are the two options that are most practical, so that’s what we’re focussing on.

Step 1: Set Your Goals

The first step is to set your goals. What exactly do you want to achieve? How much income do you need to be able to leave your full-time job? What type of flexibility or work-life balance are you looking for?

Your goals will determine the steps you need to take and how long it will realistically take you to reach them.

If your goal is to make enough money from your online business or freelancing to quit your job, you’ll need to create a plan that details how much money you need to earn and what type of work you’ll be doing to earn that income.

It’s important to be realistic here. It’s possible to achieve your goal, but it will likely take some time and effort to get there.

Step 2: Start a Side Hustle

The next step is to start working on your online business or freelance business while you’re still employed full-time.

This can be a difficult balance to strike, but it’s important to put in the work upfront so you can eventually reach your goal of leaving your job. It will also give you a chance to make sure you actually enjoy the work you’ll be doing before making the leap.

Although your goal may be to work less, in the short term, you’ll actually be working more. Having a side hustle on top of a full-time job and family responsibilities isn’t easy, but the long-term rewards can be significant.

By starting your business as a side hustle, you’ll avoid the financial risk of quitting your current job without having another income stream already established. You can wait until it’s safe to make the leap.

As I mentioned earlier, freelancing allows you to start making money quickly. If you’re looking for the fastest way to break free from your current job, freelancing might be the right option.

Starting an online business requires time and patience while you build the foundation of your business. But most online businesses offer significant earning potential once they get rolling. This could be the right approach if you’re interested in maximizing your long-term potential and you don’t mind staying at your current job longer while your business grows.

Step 3: Set Your Schedule

It’s important to treat your side hustle like a legit business (because it is one), and this involves setting a schedule. If you plan to work on your side hustles whenever it’s convenient, you’ll probably rarely find the time to do it.

Treat it like any other job. Set specific hours that you’ll work on your business each week, and stick to them. For example, when I was building my online business, I worked evenings and weekends until I was able to leave my full-time job. I had set work hours and it helped me to ensure that I dedicated enough time to my business.

It may be helpful to set aside a dedicated workspace in your home so you can get into the right mindset when it’s time to work. This could be something as simple as a desk in a spare room or corner of your bedroom. Just make sure it’s comfortable and conducive to productivity.

Step 4: Start Saving

One of the biggest challenges with leaving a full-time job to run your own business is the risk of an unpredictable income. What if things don’t go as planned?

The best way to overcome this obstacle is to have a large amount of money saved in case you need it. This will help you to feel more secure when you do eventually leave your job, and it will give you a cushion in case your income isn’t as much as you were expecting.

Aim to have at least six months’ worth of living expenses saved so you know you can cover your bills if need be. This may seem like a lot, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

One of the most convincing reasons to start your business as a side hustle is that you’ll be able to save all of the extra money that you’re making, while you live off the income from your full-time job.

If you’re not used to living on a budget, now is the time to start. Track your spending and see where you can cut back so you can save more money each month. There are lots of helpful budgeting apps that can make this process easier.

By cutting back on your living expenses, you can save more and build up your nest egg faster.

Step 5: Consider Healthcare 

Most full-time jobs come with benefits. You may be able to replace your income through an online business or by freelancing, but you won’t have the benefits. The most significant benefit for most people is health insurance.

If you’re leaving a full-time job to start your own business, you’ll need to figure out how to get health insurance. One option is to go on your spouse’s plan if they have benefits through their job.

Another option is to purchase a health insurance policy on the individual market. This can be more expensive than getting coverage through an employer, but it’s still an option. Health care sharing ministries can also be an option.

Whatever you choose, it’s important to have a plan before you quit your job. This is especially true if you have a family or if you don’t have a spouse that has access to health insurance through their job.

Depending on your current health insurance plan and the options available to you after you leave your job, you may spend significantly more money each month on insurance.

It’s also important to consider how your medical costs will be impacted. For example, if you move to a plan with a very high deductible, you may spend thousands of dollars more on healthcare throughout the year.

Step 6: Make the Jump

Once everything is in place, it’s time to quit your job and make the jump. This can be a scary step, but if you’ve planned and prepared properly, it will be worth it.

Of course, there’s always going to be some risk involved. However, no job is guaranteed these days, so staying at your traditional job isn’t 100% secure either.

Once you’re no longer working full-time, make sure to stay focused on your goals. It can be easy to become distracted when you’re working from home and don’t have the structure of a 9-to-5 job.

It’s also important to keep in mind that your income will fluctuate. You may have months where you bring in less money than you did at your full-time job. However, if you’re diligent and continue working hard, you should start to see your business grow and your income increase.

Final Thoughts on How to Escape the 9 to 5

Leaving the rat race behind is a big decision, but it can be very rewarding. If you follow these steps and prepare properly, you can make the transition to a freedom lifestyle with confidence and set yourself up for success.

First and foremost, you need to choose how you will escape the 9 to 5. I recommend starting an online business or freelancing over remote jobs because they give you better flexibility and income potential. But no one can tell you what’s right for you. You’ll need to consider your personal situation and evaluate the options to determine the right path.



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