Creating an Escape the Rat Race Plan

How to create your “Escape the Rat Race Plan”

Many of us dream of walking away from our 9-5 corporate job and doing something else, anything else, for a living. I used to envy the ladies on the supermarket checkout when I had a tough, stressful, unfulfilling job at the BBC.

It’s never too late! But if you’re serious about finding ways to escape the rat race you’ll need a plan.


Most of us are not happy to just hand in our notice on Friday, work out our leave and find ourselves, one month later, staring at a blank computer screen thinking “what’s next?”.

We want a step by step roadmap where each vital task is listed, in order. Then all we need to do is take the steps.

What you need to do before you quit your corporate job

The first step is to make a list of EVERYTHING you can think of that might need doing before you quit your corporate job and what needs to be done shortly after.

There are 6 areas to focus on when you start creating this checklist:

  • Timings (when your key milestones are going to be)

  • Big questions to resolve (the stuff that’s keeping you up at night)

  • Financials (steps to getting your money sorted)

  • Business Set up (steps to setting up your business)

  • Credibility and Qualifications (what courses you need to take and when, what steps you need to take to be credible in your new field)

  • Support and Networks (what groups you could join to find your tribe ANd your future customers)

I’ve created a free escape the rat race checklist which is divided in to the above 6 areas, with more than 70 tasks that will get you from the life you’re living today to a more balanced life doing what you love for a living outside of corporate life.

Once you have your checklist with ALL of the tasks you can think of listed down, you can start to put these along a timeline.

You won’t need to do everything straight away. So decide on a goal date, by which time you will have left your current job fully. And use that to plan out what you are going to do and when.

6 areas to consider when planning to escape the rat race

1. Timings
Start by thinking about the timeframe for your escape. Do you plan to have left your current job within 6 months, 12 months, 18 months or more? Give yourself a target date by which time you will have changed your life in this way. This gives you something to aim for. You may shift the date later on, but for now you’ve got the start of a plan. There may be other milestones hat came up with you created your checklist of tasks like the date you’d need to hand in your notice, the date you’d like to start thinking about what to do instead of what you do now, the date you’d like to start your new venture as a side hustle etc. Make a note of these dates.

2. Big questions to resolve
Chances are there are some big questions you need to resolve that came up when you created your checklist before you can successfully quit your corporate job. These are the questions likely to be keeping you up at night - “What would I like to do instead?”, “How would I make money outside of my current job?”, “What if it all goes wrong?”.

Don’t ignore these questions. Capture them all and decide when you’re going to work through them until you have answers. Again, you don’t have to have all the questions answered straight away. Which ones are you going to park for now and when are you going to return to them? All this goes on your plan.

One of the biggest questions you may have is “What if it all goes wrong?”. To help put your mind at rest, decide when you’re going to do by creating A Worst Case Scenario Plan. Once your greatest fears are confronted you’ll feel more confident about taking a few risks.

3. Financials
Talking of money, financial concerns and questions about cash are going to be top of mind as you navigate your way towards doing something else for a living and changing your life around.

There is a lot you’ll have to do related to money. The place to start is to get a good understanding of your current financial situation. What are your outgoings? Where are you wasting money? Could you cut your overheads? How much money would you need to save between now and leaving your job in order to create a Financial Runway for yourself and your family?

Make a list of all your money related tasks and add them to your plan.  

4. Business set up
Now we’re getting to the fun stuff. You’re probably going to end up working for yourself, freelancing, interim working or some other non-conventional arrangement. Maybe for the first time you won’t be reliant on a monthly salary so you’ll need to set yourself up as a sole trader or as a business.

There are LOTS of tasks to add to your plan from choosing a company name to creating a website to getting a company bank account to hiring your first employees. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do everything at once! Add these tasks to your plan in the order you think you’ll need to address them.

5. Credibility and Qualifications
In order to sell yourself and your service or product people need to know about you and trust you. Getting to that point may require a few actions on your part. You may need to get some new qualifications. You might need to get some more experience. You may need to re-write your LinkedIn profile or describe your track record on your new website. You might want testimonials or a rating from happy customers. All of this helps you build credibility with your prospective customers and gives you the experience you need to feel confident that you’re worth the money you’re going to charge.

Make a list of all the actions you’ll need to take to be really credible as an expert in your field and put them in order on your plan.

6. Support and network
You’re not going to have to do all this alone. There are many groups of people who do the work you’d like to do who can advise you. There are places where your prospective customers and clients “hang out” (online communities, clubs and societies etc). And there are groups set up specifically to support people leaving the corporate rat race—like my Corporate Escapees Facebook group—which you can join right now!.

Start thinking about what groups and communities you need to be part of to both support yourself through this process and access your new potential clients when the time comes. Make a list [or use ours] and add these tasks to your plan.

What’s Next in Creating your Exit Plan?

You’re likely to be more clear about the tasks that needed to be done soon than the tasks that need to be done in 12 or 18 months time. That’s fine. You’ll get more clarity as you get closer to those dates. For instance, just put a placeholder in for now that says “Build Website” on some date in the future. By the time you get close to that date so many other tasks will be complete that you’ll now what your products are, how you’re describing your services, what qualifications you have etc. The detail gets filled in as you get closer to the milestone.

For now, focus your more detailed attention on where to start. What are the first few actions or tasks on your plan within the next months? What are the few actions or tasks on your plan within the next week? And therefore what do you need to do TODAY?  

The best way to bring about a more balanced life and do what you love for a living is to start taking action.

If you need any more guidance on how to get started with creating your escape the rat race plan, download my FREE Escape the Rat Race Checklist.

The ABG team are hard at work (in collaboration with our friends at creating an online Transition Roadmap Planner which already has the 70+ actions on the FREE checklist, in order. You can adjust the dates on the planner to suit your own deadlines, delete actions that aren’t relevant to you, add your own and keep all your notes and ideas in one place too. I can’t wait to share it with you!

Join the Corporate Escapees Facebook Group and tell us what your first few actions are THIS WEEK!

Podcast Episode 113: How to Create a Worst Case Scenario Plan