Rat Race 101

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Are we all in this together?

Unfortunately, it seems like we are not, well at least not in the rat race. The way of life in which people are so intrinsically caught up in a brutally competitive struggle for wealth or power - is increasingly problematic in the modern world. The effect of this high-power faced-paced lifestyle can be seen throughout society at a multitude of levels.

In our modern society, it is increasingly common that everyone eventually joins the rat race. It is often thought that everyone, in order to become successful, influential and powerful, must take part. However, this can be misguided as it can lose the focus and core rationale of why someone would begin on that journey in the first place. It can affect lots of people in a variety of ways. Some people end up suffering from stress to anxiety, to other damaging and negative consequences due to the constant chase.

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So where does it begin? Does it even end?

Let's go back to the beginning - back in college, what was the situation like? For most people whilst in college, money wasn't too plentiful. Most funds were split between a flat rented with friends, no fancy car and minimum sustainable food intake (imagine most processed foods, or very cheap food, whatever was on offer!). If there was money left over, the occasional treat was to be had and these times are often seen as some of the best of your life having time with friends, a lot of your own time to spend as and how you'd like. But this, unfortunately, doesn't last forever.

So what then? Typically most people enter the thing we call the workforce, in order to get a job to start making what people deem to be 'real money'. In the space of the time it took to graduate, you have a variety of new responsibilities that come down to branding, role and a reflection of your 'new lifestyle'. This can typically be status through a big house that you might have bought to demonstrate your newfound success and grade, or it can be a new car for example. The things that someone accumulates does not improve the quality of life of a person, it is actually often quite the opposite. A lot of the time where more money is made, more stuff is unfortunately needed.

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What is the reality and the effect?

The increasing levels of competitiveness and unrealistic benchmarks of success are some of the core stresses for people who are within what we term as 'the rat race'. The key concern - is that there isn't a finish line. At no point is there someone at the end waiting to congratulate you on completing the cycle, as it only continues. The wheel just keeps rotating until you can no longer go on. And sadly, the longer you're caught in this cycle of consumption, the more of a habit it ultimately becomes. Here it can be very difficult to imagine that it wasn't always like that way and that before it wasn't so exhausting.

The pipe dream of many - being able to rid oneself of being in the corporate circle. A difficult change for even the most successful of people, or even the most proactive of people. To brake, step back and reflect retrospectively is something a lot of individuals feel it isn't within their power to do. For a lot of people that feel they do not have the luxury to do so - but why is this? We should all feel confident that we have the power and justification to do and feel how we feel and think.

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Going forward - how do we beat it?

The very first step in seeing the issue is being able to see the rat race in its whole entirety. When you are stuck amongst the problem, struggling to keep up with everything, it can be easy to convince yourself that certain 'status or material objects' are what will make you happy. It is imperative here to understand that these stressors are entirely self-inflicted.

Do you want the good news? You did get yourself onto the wheel in the first place, right? In turn, this means you can get yourself off of it, but perhaps not as easily.

The currency of the rat race is the 9-to-5 working grind. Mixing up your work schedule so you do not focus on this can often be a first good step to breaking that habit.

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Jessica Gosling