Before we dive into the real reason leaving the rat race is hard let’s get on the same page by defining what the rat race is:

 an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. It conjures up the image of lab rats racing through a maze to get the “cheese” much like society racing to get ahead financially.”(

The rat race is the complete opposite of living the dream.

It’s easy to read this, agree and move on with your life – unchanged. Do yourself and a favor and decide to look deeper today. Decide to look within to see if you’ve succumb to the external pressure to succeed and excel only to find yourself trapped in the rat race. Because the rat race isn’t just about being in a career or environment that promotes this behavior.

The the real reason leaving the rat race is hard is because the rat race is within you.

Think about it. For the last 20-30 years corporate expectations have become your own. You’ve internalize what is good and what is bad. You use others’ standards to decide when you think you have done enough. You associate your worth based on the work you do rather than who you are.

Being trapped in an unfulfilling career is only part of the issue. The side you don’t see, until you physically leave the rat race, is how you have internalized it. How the rat race has become a part of you.

I know this to be true because even after physically leaving the rat race I saw many embedded thoughts, actions and behaviors symptomatic of the rat race within myself. Below are the most profound symptoms of the rat race still residing in our souls with suggestions for overcoming. 

1. Being Out of Touch with Your Emotions: Don’t let them see you cry. Don’t let them see you sweat. These messages plague our minds and manifest as more acceptable secondary emotions such as: frustration, annoyance and anger. The truth is those who chose to embrace their emotions and work through them are the strong ones. They are the courageous ones. To start the journey to wholeheartedness read Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection.

2. Workaholism the Socially Acceptable Addiction: Coming into work drunk or high is not acceptable behavior – it is a liability for your employer. Overeating and being heavy is seen as an added health care cost. But being a workaholic and getting more done them 2 people; well that is encouraged, rewarded and celebrated. Yet at the end of the day the chronic stress from workaholism often leads to heart attacks, chronic health issues, and nervous breakdowns leaving the person and their families devastated.  The first step in healing this addiction is admitting that you are using work to numb and to seek professional help. At my lowest point I did just that and it changed my life. Click here to read more.

Step 3: You Avoid Spending Time with Yourself: When I was going through this part of my transformation I avoided being alone. I knew deep down that something wasn’t right but I didn’t want to deal with it. One day I recall looking in the mirror and it’s like God showed me my soul – I was worn out – not sleeping, not eating right and had become a human robot; I had become someone else and I was wearing a suit. I hated suites. I was in the midst of an Identity Crisis. Here is how I found myself again.

What action will you take today to leave the rat race?

Copyright  2016, Mary R. Miller