“Getting off my Hamster Wheel…”

January 7, 2010 at 7:37 pm (Sales and Business)

We all know what a Hamster Wheel is. That big wheel that your pet hamster gets on and just goes and goes and goes. Never getting to an end and only stopping once exhausted.

I came to the conclusion, about 3 years ago, that I was on a hamster wheel. Whilst I was working for a Global Brokerage, placing millions of pounds into the London Market, earning a salary that the majority of people in the City would be happy to retire on, I felt I was going nowhere. I became VERY frustrated by it. I felt like I wasn’t building anything and was just going around and around and around.

Whilst being paid well, I was spending just as “well” and more often than not, came to the end of yet another month of “working hard” and “playing harder” with very little to show for it.

It was about this time that my world was given the first part of a 2 part “Wake Up Call”.  It was my 30th birthday and I was given Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. This was a gift from my brother, Jamie.

To be honest, not being much of a reader back then, I thought it was a bit of a cop-out as far as presents go. Jamie was insistent though, that the book would open my eyes to a few things. That, combined with my fathers somewhat cautious comment of “Ya, it’s a good read but don’t take everything in there as gospel…” resulted in me actually making the effort to read it. It certainly opened my eyes to a few things and I realised that the way I saw things before about becoming successful was not the way things currently are in the world.

I recalled that my goal was always to become a Director of a financial institution prior to turning 33. That goal started to get questioned. Questioned to some degree but not enough to make me hand in my notice in the Urban Jungle straight away but certainly enough to make me do more reading, reasearch and learning to create wealth in other avenues.

The second part of the “Wake up call” started 6 months later when I had been promised my goal of Directorship if the team that I was spearheading achieved a certain target in a new business venture we were entering into. This was a project that would mean that I was away from home, living in a hotel for 3 months, consistantly working 14 hour days , cost me a relationship and making the firm about £750 000 of new business, in 3 months.

After much “toiling”, “burning the midnight oil”, “going head to head” with our competition and all the other terms you can pull from Tsung Tzu’s “Art of War for Business”, The team achieved the goals we had set out to achieve and they had worked very hard in doing so.

I was certainly looking forward to getting what I had been told would be ” surely, no problem”. That word “surely” came back to bite me in the ass.

When April time rolled round and Directorships and bonus’ were being handed out, I was called into the office and told “there was a slight problem” and indeed, there was not going to be a Directorship for me. Well, to say I was “cheesed off” was a vast understatement. I had moved signficantly past the cheese and got onto the coffee and Port… After much foot stomping, going back to past promises and negotiations that I had taken all the way to the Chairman, I realised that there was very little I could do.

The fact of the matter was that the team had achieved the goal set out and the money was in the bank …months ago. I couldn’t take that time back. Neither could I take back the effort we had put in to achieve what we had achieved. I figured that “The Powers that be” knew that and were betting that I would just shut up and get back to work, considering that I was earning pretty good money at the time.

That wasn’t the point. I wanted the Directorship in order to prove to myself  that I wasn’t the same person who had arrive in the UK all those years earlier with no qualifications or experience. It was going to be my sign of success and that I was indeed able to achieve something of status.

That evening, I went out for a bit of “Drowning Sorrows” therapy. As the Kronenbourg level dropped in the glass, my mind started to wonder and I started to think that perhaps working in the City was not the be all and end all that I had made it out to be. Perhaps there was something more challenging out there for me to do.

My thoughts started to flow, as did the beer: “So what if I felt that I had been screwed over? This world owes me nothing. Why should I get pissed off?”

Then I thought, its times like this when you either “Shut up and take it….” or you ” or you “put up and make it…” If you do the former, you have no space to complain and should just tell yourself “Thats life” , shrug your shoulders and accept it, BUT if you take the latter, you “risk it all” – the pension, the monthly paycheck, , the private medical, the expenses in return for “no guarantees”  but at least you are doing “Your own thing” and there is no limitation on how creative you can be. The Rich Dad vs Poor Dad way of thinking came back into my mind …..

A few days later, I was sitting back clicking through the channels on an idle Sunday afternoon when I came across a movie that was on which I had seen before. It was 8 Mile, the story of Eminem. I had been shown parts of this movie by my housemate Craig, who is a real music buff. He is fanatical about that movie.

As I watched, the story came back to me. It’s all about a kid who is willing to risk it all to get to the top in the Rap industry. At the end, the closing credits came up and the song “Lose yourself” started playing. The opening lines are something like this :

Yo, if you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment, would you capture it…. Or just let it slip” . He then goes into the song and part of the chorus is  “you only get one shot , this opportunity comes, once in a life time…”

I felt that little “nudge” was meant for me. To which the comment came “Well, if they don’t want to give me a Director of the company, I’ ll set up my OWN company and then be a Managing Director”. 

The rest is history and my word, whilst I know I still have a long way to go, its awesome how things open up for you if you “Take the shot” and “forget the fear”.

Special thanks must go to “The Powers that be” , Kronenbourg and Eminem! 😉

Health, Wealth and Happiness

Paul Harrison

*** Note: For those of you who haven’t read it yet, Rich Dad Poor Dad is an AWESOME book about two conflicting ways of thinking about working and business, the one frame of mind is “Go to school, get a good education so you can get a good job and stay with it until its time to retire and get a good pension. The other way of thinking is “Go to school and then learn to invest and run your own businesses”  – a MUST HAVE for anyone involved in business Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Lose Yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFYQQPAOz7Y

Please feel free to leave a comment:



  1. James Martin Harrison said,

    Tit for tat bro, tit for tat,
    I gave you the book, you gave me the drive!

  2. Dad said,

    Way to go Paulie. Pity about the ol’ man’s apparent cynicism, but you have to realise that he only got off the Hamster wheel when a couple of the rungs fell out and the opening appeared right in his face so through he went! No looking back that’s for sure and apart from the financial gains resulting from this, a whole new life opened up, another sunny day!!!

  3. Gary M. Shaw said,

    I know exactly what you mean on promises from former bosses. I worked for an advertising agency in 1988, they didn’t pay overtime, but you were expected to stay on at times and at Christmas we all got a bonus. I believe in the old American saying of money talks, BS walks. Don’t peg your hopes on invisible promises. The other staff used to joke that you could set your watch by Gary, as at 17:30 on the dot I’d be leaving the building and going home. The funny thing was that a couple of hours later when I’d walk past the company (I lived nearby) on the way to meeting friends for the evening, the other staff would still be there working. For free, for a guy that drove a Porsche, lived in a huge house and whose daughters both had ponys. Come Christmas time there were no bonuses. They never made the comments again after that. I left in ’89 to travel around the World and didn’t miss the place one bit. The company eventually closed down. Maybe things would have been different if the staff were motivated by more than empty promises.

  4. Lee Weller said,

    Hamster wheel does not work these days. Life is one big challenge after the other.. so proud of you Paul and I know your family share that ..
    Keep up that positive approach and I know you will

  5. Benny said,

    Good on ya Mr. Paul. Your story sounds reminiscent of mine, all starting with that bloody book lol. I was given it by a Polish friend of mine and I can’t thank him enough! I’m not trying to advertise my blog on yours but I am blogging my steps to a new existent much the same as you, there might be some stuff on there that may be of interest 🙂

    I wish you all the luck possible, and if I can help you in anyway please let me know! (Just bear in mind I am still at the beginning of my journey).

    ‘I have never let my schooling interfere with my education’ Mark Twain (sorry, love that quote)


    • urbanjunglesurvival said,

      Hi Benny

      Not drama’s. We are all about doing some promotion one way or another. Howelse would the world know what you have to offer if we didn’t ? 🙂

      Best of luck with your blog. I will go over and have a look at shortly.

      Kind regards


  6. My Top Three Reads for 2010 « SEM Booty Blog said,

    […] Paul Harrison’s Urban Survival Blog. Paul recommended this book in his latest post, “Getting off my Hamster Wheel…“. Although this book is not about search or social media per se, it serves as a good sanity […]

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