The Rat Wheel and 7 Signs That You’re Caught In It, Baby

“I observe that many people seek happiness “out there”. They imagine it will come to them if they get a raise, a new car, a new lover, or something else they want but do not have. My own experience, repeated many times, is that the actual reward of getting and having, is usually much less than the one imagined.” Dr. Andrew Weil

Have you ever experienced any of these situations:

– You’re walking down the aisle at your wedding, and a family member jokes in their wedding speech, “When is the baby coming?”
– You give birth to your first child, and 3 months later, someone asks you, “When is baby #2 coming?”
– You give birth to baby #2, and 3 months later, someone asks you, “When is baby #3 coming?”
– You got a 9/10 and someone asked you where the other 1 percent went.
– You wait for something to happen. Something great happens, and the next day, it’s already old news. Onto the next. More expectations to perform other great things.

So my question to you is, “When is it ever good enough?”

The Rat Wheel and 7 Signs That You're Caught In It, Baby

Life seems to be moving at a more rapid pace than ever. It’s as if life has become a moving target… “If only I get THIS, I’ll he happy.” Well, what happens when we get “this?” We want “that.” This wanting, these expectations around us, as well as the ones we place upon ourselves, are at boiling points. We have become addicted to external validation, constantly needing someone to pat us on the back, and tell us, “great job.” This in turn, causes us to stop appreciating the things we actually do have. The things we have worked hard for, and that should be sacred to us. This keeps us in a state of restlessness, and unhappiness, always looking for the next hit. The next high. In essence, this lifestyle is killing us. We are dying a slow death.

It seems we can no longer rest on our laurels for very long. And believe me, I have been guilty of it at times. I only wanted 10,000 followers on Twitter. I reached 10,000, now I’ve reset the bar to 20,000. People go on diets to lose 10 pounds. They reach their goal, and boom, they reset a new goal… only 5 more pounds. We land our dream job, but after a while, it’s not so dreamy. I ask you again: when is it ever enough?

So, do you find yourself often resetting the bar once you’ve attained your goals? Here are a few signs you’re spinning in a rat wheel, not living your life to its maximum potential.

The Rat Wheel and 7 Signs That You're Caught In It, Baby

  1. You find yourself saying things like  “If only” I’…, “I really wish I could…,” or ‘As soon as I … I’ll be happy.” If the grass constantly looks greener on the other side, it will be!
  2. You constantly feel like the victim. Do you always feel overworked and under-appreciated? Living angry is no way to live. There is a wonderful saying that goes, “holding a grudge is equivalent to you taking the poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Sleep on that.
  3. You don’t know what you want.  The number one reason why most people don’t get what they want, is because they don’t know WHAT it is that they want. Spend time alone, thinking about your goals, wishes and dreams and map out a plan to move STEADILY in that direction.
  4. Your job or career is simply a means to an end- to put food on the table or to provide a roof over your head. It’s time to make a change – either in your life, or simply in your attitude!
  5. You feel like you’re merely existing and not truly livingThis is why I speak frequently about unlocking your passion. It could be taking up a new hobby, chasing that dream job, or putting passion back into your marriage. What’s weighing your down and preventing you from being happy?
  6. You feel satisfied (for the moment), when you’ve “kept up with the Joneses.” Comparisons should only be with one person… yourself, and your own personal best. Keeping up with the Joneses may be making us ill, researchers have found. Those who compare their income with that of others are more likely to be depressed and less satisfied with their lives, reports suggest. And those who pitted their income against that of their friends were most miserable. (
  7. You spend a lot of time doing “things” to keep your mind occupied so you don’t have to think about what’s really going on with you.  Watching too much TV? Reading too many Gossip mags as an escape? Drinking too much alcohol to run away from your life? What are you running from? It’s time to face the music… whatever that music may sound like.

So here is today’s question, as we head into the weekend and have time to plan a new course of action:  When is it ever enough and what can we do about it? Can you relate to feeling like you’re caught on a rat wheel, unable to step off? I’d love to know your tips for getting off the wheel if you have, and being content with what you have. Please share your tips with our community.

The Rat Wheel and 7 Signs That You're Caught In It, Baby

Have a happy weekend readers. And Happy 108th Birthday to Dr. Seuss! ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go‘ is homework for living.


  1. Erica these are great warning signs. I have felt one or two before in my life and it takes the realization that staying in the rat race will seriously make you miserable. I jumped off 5 years ago and have never felt better. Keep up the great writing.

  2. I think it’s the nature of the beast to always want more and to not be content with the status quo. I’m not saying it’s the right way to live but I think it’s today’s reality.

  3. I am caught in the rat race. We buy things we cannot afford to keep our daughter happy. It is always good intention but its still wrong.

  4. Every day feels like another spin on the rat wheel. I’m spinning allright and not hopping off any time soon. Four kids under the age of 8 and I work full time.

  5. 4 years out of the rat race! I promised myself to never go back and so far, I am really happy with my decision!

  6. Being content with what we have is part of the happiness equation and the “not enough ever” is the other part of it. Not enough doesn’t include the envy, grudge and greediness. Not enough doesn’t include wanting more materialized things. However it is the positive feelings of wanting more in life; it is the driver that leverage the changes from inside out. It is the first step toward success. If the mission of your website, for instance, is to motive and help people to change their life or cope with their problems by giving them a space to pour out their positive and negative feelings. Then, having 1000 subscriber is not enough for you. You want 1000 more because you believe that there are other people still not reaching the valuable information in your website. It is just an example of not enough ever. This is part of human nature. If we don’t have this quality of wanting more we might still live in that life style where people 1000 years ago live in. It is the passion of many innovative and creative people is why we live now in the digital era. It is the mindset of dissatisfieres with whatever they have.

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