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Are you in a rat race?

A rat race is an endless, self-defeating or pointless pursuit. It gets its name from lab rats who race through a maze in pursuit of the “cheese” much like society racing to get ahead financially. Getting caught up in a rat race on the job destroys initiative and motivation while robbing the person of any enjoyment. Following are some signs that you are stuck in a rat race.

1. You are very unhappy in your job.

2. You are living in the past.

3. You’ve given up hope of things getting better.

4. You lack purpose in your life.

5. You have low energy and lack enthusiasm.

6. Your health is suffering.

7. You feel powerless to effect change.

8. You feel underutilized in your job.

9. You have become negative in relationships.

10. The future looks grim.

How can you escape the trap of the rat race?

First, recognize your plight and make up your mind to do something about it. If your job sucks, maybe you are in the wrong position. Analyze your options. Get some good career advice and counseling. 

If you work in an office and hate being inside, investigate opportunities for positions that have an outside work environment. If you are not making enough money, look for positions that pay higher wages. (By the way, everyone thinks they’re underpaid.) 

If a higher paid job is not on the horizon, review your lifestyle and spending habits, and set up a budget to control expenses. Cut out all unnecessary expenses and make purchases that only add to you and your family’s quality of life. This will not be easy but is necessary to have other options.

Look for an interesting and fulfilling job but recognize there is no perfect job. Go back to school or get training to update and enhance your skills. Be adaptable.

Be open to relocation if necessary. Save up money so you will have a cushion to fall back on. Don’t quit your job until you have landed another job. It is a known fact that it is easier to find a job when you are gainfully employed. Avoid burning your bridges.

If you are contemplating forming your own business, being your own boss, ensure you have the qualities of being a successful entrepreneur. A full range of management and leadership skills are needed. A good financial situation is key to long-term success.

Being your own boss is often not all it is cracked up to be. If you think you have a jerk for a boss now, you may find that your being the boss is even worse.

Finally, ensure that you haven’t brought about your own demise and caused your problems. It many not be as bad as you may first think. Examine your attitude, not only on the job but in your personal life as well. You may need an attitude adjustment.

Planning, investigating and researching takes nothing but time so start moving on the process. You spend more waking hours with the people you work with than your own family. If you don’t like what you do, like the people you work with or are proud of your company, quit. Life is too short to be miserable in your job.

Conjure up the courage to make a change. You only have one life to live. Make it the best possible.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.