Escape the Corporate Prison

Beach SunsetSo if you’re anything like me once you got a taste of what life really has to offer (or at least what life outside the Western world really has to offer) you can’t get enough of it. You have one little problem though: two weeks of vacation (or four to six if you live in Western Europe) just isn’t enough. If you’re like most young professionals out there as I was, you probably spend 40% or more of your waking hours working as a corporate slave chained to a desk in a cube. To add insult to injury you probably spend another 10% or more of your waking hours driving to and from that corporate prison.

Sure you travel and experience the possibility of something else a few weeks a year and every long weekend you can get your hands on, but it just isn’t close to enough and makes your regular life seem that much worse. The experience of going from hell to paradise and back again gets harder and harder and begins to effect your mood at home.

As your mental health suffers so does your physical health. You spend 8-10 hours at your desk and 2 hours stuck in traffic and it’s 8pm at night by the time you walk in the door to your Ikea apartment and now you have to worry about dinner. Do you pay too much to order in or eat out or do you throw together some mediocre concoction comprised of whatever food you can find in your refrigerator that doesn’t resemble some kind of science experiment? All you want to do is sit down on the couch with a glass of Johnny Red (you can’t afford black on the pittance they pay you) and drink yourself into a stupor.  You go out sometimes at home but now that you know what you’re missing the the sight or more often the sounds these American girls makes you sick.  Their incessant, vapid, vacuous ramblings are like nails on a chalk board. You would give your left nut for another night with your favorite Latin American beauty queen or Eastern European princess but she’s oh so far away. Going to the gym on a regular basis is virtually impossible with a schedule like yours, so now you’re probably getting fat which further affects your mental health and self-esteem. It’s a vicious cycle.

But there is another way!  The first step is to escape from the rat race.  Now I’m not going to tell you can just invent a website today and zip off to the Caribbean tomorrow and only work 4 hours per week as advocated in The Four Hour Work Week, however you should read that book. As I see it you have four basic options for freeing yourself geographically:

1.) Live off savings, trust fund or proceeds of the sale of a business you already own, etc.
2.) Convince your boss to let you “work from home”
3.) Become an entrepreneur
4.) Derive your income from “the arts”

Let’s examine your options in depth:

Live off savings, trust fund, proceeds of the sale of a business you already own, etc.: Fuck you if you’re lucky enough to have this option. You don’t need help or advice, you just need balls. Go do it. Stop living the safe life, stop pursuing more material possessions and a bigger payday that you don’t need when you can already go live the life of your dreams now. It’s cheaper than you think.

Convince your boss to let you “work from home”: Some people have managed to pull this off and Tim Ferris gives a formula for doing it in The Four Hour Work Week but for every one person that can pull it off I bet there’s a thousand or more that can’t. More power to you if you can do it but most people can’t. Besides I’d rather make $20,000 per year working for myself than $40,000 working for somebody else. Fuck that, once you’ve been your own boss you’ll never go back.

Become an entrepreneur: Easier said than done. Requires a lot of up front effort, dedication and discipline. Also will require a lot of trial and error and a willingness to fail outright and try again. My father once imparted upon me a great piece of wisdom: there is a high correlation between 8th grade dropouts and successful entrepreneurs. It’s not that there’s no value in education, it’s just that these individuals didn’t have the luxury of giving up. They had to make their businesses work. The most important thing in entrepreneurship is not to give up. Being an entrepreneur is a huge topic and I will write a follow-up article in the future. For the moment I will again recommend you read The Four Hour Work Week along with Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today’s Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves and Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant. Make sure you’ve read those books and start doing a little brain storming with yourself and any like-minded friends you may have and you’ll be well on your way.

Derive your income from “the arts”: If you’re lucky enough to have the talent and dedicated enough to develop that talent, become an artist of some type, performing or otherwise. If you make your living as an artist chances are that you can either: a) do your work from anywhere or b) get paid to travel. Some people can even do both. Charlie and ¡Raul! are a couple of class A examples. If you are already an artist but you feel you’re tied to your location, chances are you aren’t really, at least not as much as you think. Unless you make 15 ton sculptures out of metal in a airplane hanger you probably don’t really need to be anywhere in particular. Even if you do there is probably a cheaper airplane hanger somewhere else more desirable to live with cheaper metal to boot. Rethink your life and strategize accordingly.

Freeing yourself geographically is a long term project, not an over night decision, however it could be the most rewarding thing you ever do for yourself. It also can be a lot less expensive than you might imagine. If you travel anything like we do you may find that sometimes you actually save money by going on vacation. Why not make your entire life like that? The first year I spent as a geographically free man was in a place that I would call “middle of the road” in terms of price among our favorite destinations. I spent less than my annual salary at my first job after college and it paid for:

1) Rent for a fully furnished 1 bedroom apartment in a relatively new building with all the modern conveniences including air conditioning, internet, and security.

2) The ability to eat out and go out drinking whenever I wanted and wherever I wanted.  And I did, I partied my ass of in the best clubs with reservations, VIP tables and bottle service.  I also ate every meal in at least a moderate scale restaurant or had food delivered.  I never needed to cook.

3) The ability to travel about the region relatively freely and do things like visit the beach and go skiing, staying in hotels or guest houses when I did.

4) No need for a car, I took a taxi wherever I went. On less than double my budget you could own a car and have a private driver in many places.

5) Paid way less taxes.

6) Generally wanted for nothing.

The best part is that I was still figuring shit out, it could easily be done for less knowing what I know now. If you’re not a heavy drinker you can knock thousands off your budget right there. I never did a breakdown but I would have to say if I made a pie chart of my total budget, “drinks in clubs” would definitely be the big piece.

Freeing yourself geographically is the best way to live the best possible lifestyle.  If you want to move past the rat race and the tyranny of low quality western women this is key.

Even if you aren’t in a position to fully or permanently unplug now, why not embrace The Four Hour Work Week concept of “mini-retirements”? Whatever your case 99% of people certainly could live a better, happier more fulfilling lifestyle – they just don’t want to put in the up front effort to make it happen. Don’t be one of those guys. The world is your oyster. Fuck your boss. Fuck your desk. Fuck rush hour traffic. And most importantly, Fuck Mondays! I love Mondays! I don’t mind spending 8 hours a day in my office. My office is our favorite coffee shop full of hot chicks wherever we happen to be that week. It’s where we write our blog and I run my businesses remotely using nothing more than a laptop. I love my life.  How many people do you know that can say that and mean it? Do you want to be able to say that? Then make your life into a life that will allow you to.

Free yourself from the rat race.  Start living or keep dying.

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