Last week I discussed the lifestyle of people who run the ‘financial rat race’. I described it as one of working hard, getting paid, meeting expenses, and going back to work again – basically running around in circles, akin to rats running around in a maze.
I hope the article made some readers of this column mad at themselves and the lives they have been living – mad enough not only to vow but actually do what it takes to get out of the rat race at all cost.
Somebody sent me a text message to announce that he was going to leave his current job and look for a better one. This is not what I mean by getting out of the rat race. Getting a high-paying job will not get you out of the rat race. If you compete with others in the workplace, beat them and win in this race (get promoted, higher pay etc), it doesn’t mean you have come out. You may be highly educated, highly qualified, and highly paid, but you are still a rat!
Today’s article is on the ‘financial treadmill’. As many of us would know, a treadmill is a machine you find in many gyms. It is basically has a moving belt which people run or jog on, and it has instruments which indicate the time someone has run on it. It also indicates the distance the person would have covered had he or she actually run on the road. Some treadmills also show the speed at which the belt has run.
When someone runs on a treadmill, he or she feels several effects on the body. After a few minutes breathing intensifies and sweat begins to pour out on the forehead and other parts of the body. The person will also feel tired after some time. The ultimate effect would be a loss in weight and hence a lightness in the body. Continuous running will lead to a firming of the muscles and better health.
A financial treadmill is once again a lifestyle which people live, and it is determined by the way they conduct their financial affairs. It may involve all or many of the following (not necessarily in sequence):
• Going to school and getting a job;
• Getting married and having children;
• Receiving further training;
• Getting promotion and climbing the corporate ladder;
• Receiving pay rises and other perks and privileges;
• Increasing expenses to meet income;
• Living beyond means and getting into habitual debt;
• Ageing (graying for both sexes or bald for males); and
• Nothing to retire on during old age.
In essence, the financial treadmill records the time and effort put in over a life-time, but whereas running on a normal treadmill leads to better health, running the financial treadmill leads to little or no wealth. It is jogging on the same spot for years and thinking that you are making progress, but actually not getting anywhere.
I read a short statement made by John C. Maxwell, American leadership guru, which has stuck with me for some time now. He said, “Activity does not equal progress.” He was referring to companies and organizations such as churches engaging in a lot of activities, spending money etc, but not necessarily making money or achieving results.
I believe that the statement applies as much to the majority of working people. There may be a lot of getting up in the morning, taking a quick shower and breakfast (if at all), rushing off to the office, working whole day, coming home tired and worn out, taking a shower, having dinner, watching TV, and sleeping, and repeating the same routine the following days – for years! A lot of commotion and activity, but not necessarily getting anywhere.
If you this has been how you have been living your life up to this point in time, I propose to you that it is time you made drastic changes in your life. You just cannot go on living like this and expect to succeed financially. As Albert Einstein has said, “Insanity is doing the same thing and over and over and expecting a different result.”