Normal people are just that: normal.
If you look at a standard bell curve, normal people make up the big fat lump in the middle.
Normal people live comfortable, normal lives. They like it that way. There’s nothing wrong with normal.
Except when it pertains to the rat race.
If you’re a normal person who’s tired of getting one raise a year (if that), tired of sitting under-utilized at your cubicle, tired of sitting over-utilized at your cubicle, tired of being tired, normal isn’t going to save you.
You only have three options at this point:
- Marry someone rich.
- Inherit a bunch of money.
- Sell your organs.
If you want to build your own career away from the rat race, free from the cubicle-prison, without the office drab, you need to be an outlier. You even need to be a tad weird to pull it off.
So no, normal people don’t escape the rat race. Only the outliers do.
Now, you don’t need to be Gary Vaynerchuk to hustle your way out of a steady job and build your own career. That guy is an extreme outlier. Here are five ways to be slightly weirder than a normal person to help you escape the rat race.
1. Live like you don’t know when (and where) your next paycheck will come from
When you don’t have the luxury of steady cash flow, paying bills and feeding yourself becomes a little bit harder.
Before escaping the rat race, you’ll want to audit all your spending habits to see where you can cut back. And I mean really cut back. If you have a partner/spouse, make sure they are on board because this will affect them too.
When I tell normal people I don’t own a television, I’m outcasted as the weird one (I’m sometimes even labeled ‘Millennial’).
Weird people make sacrifices willingly. Here are some areas you can consider cutting back:
- Insurance — shop around for better offers
- Student loans —look to refinance if it’s in your best interest (pun intended)
- Cable/Internet —cut the cable, keep the internet (you’re going to need it)
- Subscriptions— cut them all (worst case scenario split a Netflix account with a friend or two)
- Food— eating out costs more than cooking for yourself (and no, you don’t need Blue Apron, look up cooking instructions on YouTube!)
- Rent — no shame in moving back with mom and dad
On top of cutting the luxuries from your life, you need to save up some cash in case hard times hit. Minimum. 3 months saved. Put it into an account and don’t touch it!
2. Believe you can actually make money on your own without having to show up and sit in a cubicle for 40 hours a week
This is difficult for normal people to grasp. It’s something I didn’t believe until I got my first Google Adsense deposit.
$100 for hosting an ad on my blog. Not bad. That was the first (and last) time I thought, Golly, this whole making-money-online thing isn’t that hard.
It’s not easy, but it’s possible to make money on your own. For most of us rat racers, trading 40 hours a week of our time for a paycheck is the only way we’ve been told to make a living.
We’ve been told a lie.
However, most of us stick to the rat race not because it’s the only way we know, but because we think the alternative just isn’t feasible.
The average American household brings in $55,775 a year [source].
That’s $4,648 a month or $1,073 a week or $152 a day.
Have you ever tried making $152 in one day outside the rat race? This weekend try to make $304 on your own. Three hundred bucks is not enough to survive off of, but the purpose here is to prove a point: When you break it down, making a living isn’t as grand and majestic as you think.
It takes hard work and relentlessness. Again, only weird people understand.
Related read: 37 Ways to Bridge the Gap to Your Dream Job
3. Work outside normal working hours
Four years ago, I’d come home from the rat race and binge watch Netflix for 6 hours, then go to bed, then do it all again the next day.
I was miserable.
Normal people can relate. Weird people utilize all of their time.
When 5 o’clock strikes, the day is not done. There are still 7 hours left. Weird people know they need to use your time wisely if they want to exit the rat race.
I get my best work done between 8pm and midnight every evening.
It’s unconventional. It’s weird. It works.
If you want to escape the rat race you have to put in the hours outside of the rat race to make it happen.
4. Wake up on Monday morning with a purpose
Normal people complain about Mondays. Normal people live for Fridays.
Weird people understand Mondays are no different than any other day of the week. Mondays are another opportunity to put in the work to escape the rat race.
The weirdest of the weird, who know their purpose and are eager to fulfill it, wake up looking forward to Monday. They’ve examined their life and know what they want.
Normal people are afraid to look past next weekend.
I love Mondays. They are my most productive day after a weekend of spending quality time with my family. Rested and rejuvenated, I storm out of the gate ready to tackle the week. When Friday rolls around, I experience a twinge of sadness as I wind things down before another weekend of family time.
That’s weird, it’s not normal. It’s also why I’m escaping the rat race.
5. Adopt a value-creation mindset
What’s the least amount of work I need to do to prepare for this presentation?
This is how normal people think, with a least effort preparation-mindset.
When a paycheck is practically guaranteed, why go above and beyond what’s required to stay employed? Why create extra value if you are still paid the same?
The logic makes sense, to normal people.
To the the weird outliers, however, having a value-creation mindset is a necessity once they escape the rat race. It’s the only way to survive.
And there’s no better place to practice the value-creation mindset than while you are in the midst of the rat race. Shift your mindset to view your employer as your client and the job you perform is the service you provide them.
Every day when you show up to the rat race, ask yourself these questions:
- What does my client want?
- What are their needs?
- What are their problems?
- How can I perform my service to solve their problem and create extra value?
- When enough value credit is built up, how do I leverage it for something bigger?
You’ll probably face resistance from the normal people. They’ll ask why you are upsetting the status-quo. They’ll question your motive. They’ll grow suspicious of you.
Ignore them and keep creating value, because most likely when you escape the rat race and deal with clients and/or customers, this mindset will come in handy.
Oh, and don’t forget to stay weird.