Even if You Escape the Rat Race, You’re Still a Hamster


While people always say they don’t want to be rats stuck in the rat race, many don’t realize that they only escape the rat race to become hamsters. Since we know many people who are hamsters, we chose to do an article that wantpreneurs will appreciate as it might give them a pulse check and help them determine if they are indeed suffering from the hamster effect.

First off, let us clarify that leaving your 9-5 to start your own business or to work for yourself does not make you an entrepreneur, even if you now make more money than you made before.

Money is not the determining factor of success in the realm of entrepreneurship. Facilitation and innovation are the key to being called an entrepreneur. While many hamsters are entrepreneurial, they certainly are running around chasing their own tail. The only difference is that they think they are superior to the rat running in the wheel next to them.

When I wrote Third Circle Theory, I described the second circle as the “mastery of society” which is ultimately our ability to see past all these facades that are created by these so called ‘systems’ everyone abides by. When I say see past these facades, I am referring to our ability to overcome our need to be dependent on such ‘systems’ and to understand how to master them and escape their mercy.

In simple terms, you go to work to get paid and function, and then accumulate debt and other things that force you to go back to work. This by itself is a cycle, and one that many cannot seem to shake-off as it is setup to keep you working. The more debt you have, the more luxuries you enjoy, the more dependent you become on that system and the further away your freedom goes.

While many learn to make a lot more money needed for mere survival, they still remain in that loop. The rat in this case is someone who is dependent on that system to survive, while a hamster is someone stuck in that system but enjoying the finer luxuries of it. Either ways, both are in the same wheel, and both are running. The only difference is how nice the wheel you run in is.

That said, here are some typical ways you can identify if you are a hamster.

You plan your day from 8am to 6pm: While you no longer consider your day from 9-5, you still work within the same parameters but think that working longer differentiates you from the rest. Most hamsters work 8-6 and feel that the evenings are still left for relaxation, happy hour, and partying. Don’t mistake your ability to beat traffic with your ability to beat the system.

You look forward to your weekends: There is nothing wrong with enjoying some time off of work. Even today’s top entrepreneurs enjoy time off via a relaxing day away from work or a well deserved vacation. The only difference is that it is not part of their routine but rather their way to refresh.

If you spend time planning your vacation months ahead or look forward to your weekend on Monday, perhaps you might want to reconsider if you are indeed free. The idea of a 7 day week with 2 days off is part of that same system you think you outsmarted, so don’t fool yourself if you are still following those parameters set for you.

Time off comes when you need to refresh, vacations come when you enjoy the rewards of your hard work.

Don’t forget vacations are not freedom; they are actually an indication that you are trapped in your giant wheel and your only escape are those precious moments. Real entrepreneurs don’t need vacations to get away from what they do, they live to solve the problems they couldn’t figure out. They don’t need to run away from them and they are not forced to get back to them.

You think you are very good at what you do: If you are very good at your profession, field, or simply at what you do; its probably cause you are operating within your comfort zone. While you may not need to survive but instead enjoy more rewards/pay for your work cause you are good at it, you are simply staying at it cause its easy and comfortable.

In order to graduate the hamster phase you are going to have to find the power to venture where it is least comfortable. Meaning you will have to learn to get out of your comfort zone, no different than you did that first time when you left the rats behind.