How To Escape The 9-5 ‘Trap’

January 19, 2021 by James

Escaping the 9-5 ‘trap’ almost becomes a job in itself when you feel desperate to find freedom, or another way to earn a living.

It can be a time of real frustration, or even pain. So, it’s good to start by taking a step back, considering your options, while understanding what it’ll actually involve to ‘ditch the day job’ for good.

Some will have you believe that the 9-5 is a trap. Others will have you believe that it can be escaped overnight.

Is this really true?

And how do you escape the 9-5?

Here’s the answer:

There’s several different ways to escape the 9-5, not a “single magic formula.” How you do it is by finding a way to earn a living for yourself (in case that wasn’t obvious). The exact method is your choice, but it’s best to pick the route that feels right to you and your situation. The one that suits your personality and the lifestyle you want.

That’s all rather vague, you’re probably thinking.

So, in just a flash, we’ll cover off some different ways to leave the ‘rat race’ behind, and answer those other all-important questions about the 9-5 (without a get-rich-quick scheme in sight).

First, you might be interested to understand how the world got itself into the way of working that is ‘the 9-5’ (then again, you might not, in which case, scroll away).

What Is The 9-5?


The 9-5 is of course the standard, traditional hours of a typical working day, which many employees accept, but others hate and try to escape (or avoid altogether). The 9-5 also happens to be a belter of a tune, sung by Dolly Parton.

Rumour has it (ok, Wikipedia has it) that the 8 hour work day now known as ‘the 9-5’ was first around in some form towards the end of the 16th century. More recently, it became a standard way of working in the early 19th century.

This was when a British textile mill operator, named Robert Owen, coined the phrase “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, and eight hours rest” for his workers (which was an improvement on the previous working hours).

In 1926, Henry Ford of Ford Motors adopted the standard 40 hour work-week for those on his factory production lines and over the next century or so, the 9-5 day became the mainstream approach to labour being used in business, across various industries.

Jumping forward several decades (because you’re not really here for the history lesson), Tim Ferris came along in 2007 with his book The 4-Hour Work Week, which seemed to be the first real thing to open most people’s eyes to an alternative working life.

People like Pat Flynn soon followed and started the passive income bandwagon rolling.

There’s plenty of jobs that still require people to work from 9 to 5 rigidly (and that’ll probably be the case for some time yet), but the world seems to be slowly coming around to the idea of working more flexibly. Working the ‘9-5’ is nowadays often just a way of referring to conventional jobs where you’re trading your time for money (passive income being the alternative).

Just in case it wasn’t clear, not everyone loves the 9-5. So, for the purpose of this article, the 9-5 means any job that’s not enjoyed (to the extent that you feel like you want to escape this traditional way of working and live with more variety / freedom / enjoyment instead).

For many people, escaping the 9 to 5 means less restrictions, more freedom and an all-round happier way of living. It’s hardly unusual to think about quitting a job to do something more meaningful, although (believe it or not), there are some good things about working the traditional 8 hour day.

Is The 9-5 That Bad?


It’ll drive you crazy if you let it, says Dolly

A 9 to 5 job isn’t necessarily bad, if you enjoy what you do for work. It’s when you hate what you do for a living or feel unfulfilled in your job, that the 9-5 is a bad thing. Otherwise, there’s benefits to be had from a 9-5 life, even if you can’t always see them.

Hopefully this balanced view of things won’t have you clearing off to find out how you can make a jillion dollars in two weeks, or something along those lines. Being patient and finding a legitimate way out is probably the better option (we’re getting to the ‘how to escape’ part).

Anyway, working a 9-5 job has its benefits, such as being able to learn things while getting paid, bringing structure to your life and getting to know different people. Having said that, some commonly perceived disadvantages of working the 9-5 include:

  • The traffic starts jumping (the commute)
  • You barely get by (the money is rubbish)
  • It’s all taking and no giving (difficult to get promotions)
  • They just use your mind (you sometimes get a lack of credit)
  • It’s a rich man’s* game (your work typically makes others more money than you)


(Thanks again to Dolly for the inspo).

Again, if we’re being annoyingly balanced about things, then it’s easy to realise that the disadvantages of working a 9-5 life don’t apply to everyone. Nor are 9-5 jobs terrible things across the board, despite how you might sometimes feel.

At the same time, it’s easy to see the 9-5 as the life-sucking monstrosity that you wish you never entered. But there’s a way of escaping the 9-5 without needing to act like a bitter ex before the break-up’s even happened, convincing yourself that trading time for money is the devil.

The reality is, certain people just aren’t suited to working the 9-5. Or at least, they’ve got themselves stuck in a job that they don’t enjoy, and convince themselves that it’s the 9-5 rat race that’s bad.

In many cases, it’s not necessarily the start and finish times of the workday that’s the problem, or even the number of hours that need to be worked. You’ve heard the saying, “when you do what you enjoy, it doesn’t feel like work.”Which is, (again, probably annoyingly), true in many cases.

The real problem is usually that you’re in a job you don’t enjoy (for whatever reason). Or, you don’t have the spare time, money or freedom that you crave, because of the restrictions that come with your job.

Either way, the 9-5 life can be good for some people, and bad for others. This can also change depending on what else is going on in your life at a certain time. What’s clear is, there’s a time in many people’s lives when they at least think about escaping the 9-5.

How To Escape The 9-5

Escape The 9-5

This is the bit where you come to terms with there still being no mention of a “sure-fire way” to quit your job forever.

While you work through the shock, let’s gently put it out there, that it is however possible to earn just as much (or more) money from your interests or hobbies than from your current job. No matter how unlikely it might seem.

Without wanting to underplay that the escape bit can take a bit of time, it’s true that once you realise that it’s possible to earn a good living from what you enjoy, it’s then just a case of working towards it.

First, let’s look at some of the most common ways that you can get out of the 9-5 lifestyle, before going through some logical steps which should see that you achieve your escape from employed work altogether (if you put the effort in).

9 Ideas For Escaping The 9-5

  1. Restructure your work week: Ask your boss for more flexible hours. Or maybe consider moving to a different firm (or country) with a more relaxed working philosophy.
  2. Go part-time: Drop your hours, or work multiple part-time roles to mix things up a bit.
  3. Work seasonally: For example, as a skiing instructor, or in summer camps.
  4. Freelance: Put your skills to work by going it alone (full or part-time).
  5. Telecommute: Technology makes remote working 100% feasible nowadays.
  6. Save and Invest Your Money: Live off of passive income, e.g. rent from property, stock market returns.
  7. The side hustle: Get grafting and make some money from nothing.
  8. Start your own business: A side hustle being a part-time business, but think about how you could start a business you could start full-time.
  9. Make money online: Sell things on eBay or Etsy. Build an online store. Start a blog. (All just versions of a side hustle or business).

Bonus idea: Do something you actually enjoy.

5 Steps To Escaping The 9-5

Before we get to the steps, it’s important to emphasise again that everyone will have their own escape route (the link will show you just one particular example). But the general principles of escaping the 9-5 are pretty much relatable to anyone who feels stuck in that life.

Without further ado (and without any guarantees), here’s5logicalsteps to take, in order to escape the 9-5:

Step 1: Shift Your Mindset

The first step to escaping the 9-5 is to remind yourself that you’re not actually stuck in it forever. No matter how it feels at the time, there’s always other options. Enough other people have proved that it’s possible to earn money another way, so it’s doable for you too.

Getting past the trapped feeling will take longer for some than others. It’s not necessarily as simple as just being optimistic and moving onto step 2. You’ll probably be better off moving onto the next steps whilstacknowledging that your mindset might need changing along the way (clearly it’ll depend on what your current mindset actually is).

Changing your ways of thinking doesn’t happen overnight. Often you need to see evidence of how something can be done, to be able to believe that it’s achievable, at least when you’re not yet in the headspace of seeing opportunities. That’s where taking note of advice from others who’ve been there before comes in (try to find those who actually resonate with you).

Shifting your mindset isn’t all just about believing in the concept and yourself though. Getting motivated is part of it, but it’s also about thinking logically when you’ve got that feeling stuck vibe. If you’re able to think clearly among all the impatience and frustration, that’s a good start. 

It’s only then that you’ll probably realise your mindset will also benefit from covering the following:

Step 2: Commit To Investing In Yourself

Once you’ve accepted that the 9-5 doesn’t have to be your life forever, you can make the commitment to yourself that you’ll find another more enjoyable way of working or earning a living, by investing in yourself.

Investing in yourself doesn’t necessarily involve spending money, but at the very least it does mean going out of your way to start learning something new, or to put the time and effort into pursuing something with the intention of changing your life.

If you’re still not yet convinced that escaping the 9-5 is possible, then it’s probably a good idea to consider investing in yourself at this stage anyway. In other words, trying other things out, whether that’s at work or in your spare time. 

Exposing yourself to new experiences and especially learning new things, is what can eventually give the confidence to quit a job forever.

As an example, learning about the absolute basics of business might sound drab, but when combined with whatever other interests or hobbies you have, you might be surprised at how quickly you see some light at the end of the 9-5 tunnel. (Brief spoiler: one of the absolute basics is providing value to other people).

Step 3: Make an Escape Plan

This step all starts with some reverse engineering, like all good plans for success do.

It’s corny, but it’s totally possible to design your ‘dream’ life, and that’s exactly what you should consider doing here. Think about and write down what you want your lifestyle to look like once you’ve quit the 9-5.

This should involve what you actually want to do with your time, whether you want to serve a particular purpose, how often (or not) you want to be working, who you want to spend your time with, and how much money you want to make (along with anything else that’s important to you).

Next, begin to piece together how you think achieving that lifestyle would be possible and by when you think you could achieve it. Try breaking down the steps that you’d need to take, into years, months, weeks and days, so you end up with what your first step would be.

Further suggested reading: 
Making A Plan To Quit The 9-5
How To Make Money With Little To No Money
How To Solve Your Own Problems In Life

Step 4: Work Towards Your Escape

This is where the execution phase happens, whatever method of escape you came up with in your plan.

Ideally, when investing in yourself, this’d include learning about what it takes to successfully escape the 9-5 and work for yourself (hint: reading the absolute basics of business is a start if you haven’t already).

Not to harp on about it, but even if working for yourself isn’t necessarily a part of your escape plan, learning the absolute basics of business can help the mindset needed for everyday life.

Either way, actually taking the steps and making progress towards freedom, or even financial independence, is the thing to focus on here. 

There’s really not much more to it. This part is simply about taking consistent action day after day, implementing your plan, towards your ideal life. Until you reach it.

Further suggested reading:
Why Persistence Is The Key To Success
Is Financial Independence Possible
The Values Needed For Success

Step 5: Quit Your Job and Escape the 9-5

When you’ve reached a stage of earning money away from the 9-5 (after putting in the work needed in step 4), you’ll need to decide whether you’re earning enough to quit your job and escape the 9-5 for good (whether passively or non-passively).

This’ll depend on several different factors, including your overall ambitions, your level of misery, and your dependents, for example.

Once you do start making money away from your regular day job, you might actually realise that trading time for money isn’t necessarily a trap. Although, passive income is also good. As is knowing how to escape the 9-5 if you want to.

Escaping The 9-5: A Quick Recap

There’s several ways to escape the 9-5, some involving changing jobs to live with different work hours or patterns. The other main way is to essentially invest or start a business and work for yourself.

In short, shifting your mindset, investing in yourself, making an escape plan and taking action is how you actually get out of the ‘rat race.’

View Posts

Try to remember those four things: 

  1. Shift your mindset.
  2. Invest in yourself.
  3. Make a plan.
  4. Take action.

So that’s how to escape the 9-5 life. In theory at least. The only way to really do it, is by taking responsibility for your own life and actually taking the steps. Post navigation Consistency: The Key To Success (Or Is It?)The “How To Stop Trading Time For Money” ‘Trap’

Source: loaded 16.03.2021

Published by Schmitt Trading Ltd

Schmitt Trading Ltd is an international software company and develops trading robots. We want to share with you how we live our dream to become financially independent. Join us at our thrilling day-to-day adventure trip to freedom. Follow us for more information. Subscribe to our latest blog posts.

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