Anyone over 40 knows of the “the rat race” and the pipe dream for many, at least back in the 1980s/1990s of escaping from it. Most thought their work destiny inevitably led to commuting to a large organization, playing corporate warrior, and then repeating. Daily and endlessly. Having to deal with face time, organizational politics, rigid schedules, and company policies were/are the bane of career existence for many in the rat race. Fortunately, this paradigm is fading.
The desire for greater work-life balance was the first force that led many to reconsider the daily repetitive grind. Perhaps due to the advent of more women in the work force as well as men who desired to be more involved parents, companies in the late 1990s started to consider policies that were more parent friendly.
The start-up world of Internet companies led to a different ethos. Those in such companies worked just as hard but face time, rigid schedules, and corporate politicking became radically less important.
More significantly, the Information Age made telecommuting possible and the rise of the Entrepreneur led to a romantic movement to escaping corporate America.
I don’t want to pretend that those who are untethered from the rat race live in a utopian work world. The challenges from not being an organization can be significant. Steady paychecks and work stability (even if increasingly illusory) are genuinely big plusses for most. But for those who have successful work outside of the rat race, work life is pretty great.
I pause here. I worry when I tell my escape from the rat race story that it will smack of conceit and/or create envy. But my morning walks with my wife on the beach (we live in Shoreline, Connecticut), my lengthy workouts, my healthy eating habits, my mediation practice, and… my napping (!) all stem from may ability to head into the office at my choosing.
My recent work with a whole host of clients who have moved to a self-created work world may ultimately prove to my most fulfilling work. They report that not only did our career counseling work change their work lives but dramatically changed their overall happiness and well-being.