Sliding off the Rat Wheel

Human society is sometimes described as the ‘Rat Race’. We’re all scrambling frantically, it’s survival of the fittest and if there are too many of us we may start to squabble and turn against one another. Let’s visualise a rat on a wheel, he’s focussed and racing as fast as he can and he’s going nowhere. This is kind of what we have become ‘trained’ to do.

Have our lives become like this? Do we pace on the treadmill of life, work our fingers to the bone, competing with our colleagues to get that one promotion that gets offered once in a blue moon? Are some of us treading water with the constant worry that we may not have work once our contracts are up? Are you working ridiculous hours to pay the mortgage, pay for childcare, pay for your next holiday, to buy a ‘jeep’ and to pay off the credit card? Are you happy?

The last question is something I am now continually asking myself. I worked in a job for about 13 years where I subconsciously was competing with work colleagues, my hours were never guaranteed and I did not feel valued. I was not happy and my health over the last few years started to seriously suffer. It took me about three years to finally quit last year. I needed time out. Unfortunately I made the mistake of jumping into another job about a month later-I still had this notion that I had to work to be a valued member of the community and I couldn’t quite let go.

Well I’m happy to report I ninja kicked the rat wheel over about seven weeks ago. I have taken a huge leap of faith and thrown in the towel (and no I did not perform an adult tantrum and walk out in a blaze of glory). My decision has been met with mixed comments from friends and family which I expected. However everyone has been supportive. I think those closest to me know that I truly have been struggling. For the record, I have no plan and no current intention to go back to work in the near future.

So what led me to this decision?
1. My eldest son has recently turned 15 and over the last 12 months has become more independent. I suspect that as soon as he finishes high school he’ll be heading to the big smoke and this is happening way to quickly.
2. My niece and nephew have both left high school and this has been a huge reality check for me.
3. My middle son is in his last year of primary school and every week I provide a personal taxi service to get him to his various sporting events. I don’t want to miss a minute of this!
4. Missing socks.

This decision to ‘slow down’ has only be made possible also by my very supportive husband who loves his job and is happy to provide financially for his family. To those thinking he must be earning mega bucks, by Australian standards he’s earning an average wage. Personally I haven’t worked full time since starting a family and I’ve also had about 5 years of unpaid maternity leave, so we know what it’s like to live on one income.

So how are we going to survive without an extra $30 000 a year? Good question…..

Well the plan is..
A. Growing more of our own food
B. Reducing our annual investments-the next 12 months we’ll focus just on topping up our superannuation.
C. Reduce the use of my car-however this will only have a small impact as we already live within 5kms of shops, schools and most sporting venues.
D. Making and preparing our own food-reducing take-away and prepackaged foods.
E. Taking advantage of our solar power-now that I’m home during the day I can do more in the daylight hours.
F. Every time I go to make a purchase I ask myself, “Do I really need this?”
G. We won’t be going on any big holidays-camping will do just fine.
H. We won’t be buying a jeep.

Well I’ll keep you posted with how I go…….