Paying the Price to Get Out

by Stephen Mills on August 8, 2009


To get out of what?  Any box, trap, prison, chain, or handcuff that is causing you pain, discomfort, boredom, or anything else that you don’t want or like.  It could be your dead-end job, an unhealthy relationship, a failing business, a commitment you no longer want, or a blog that is going nowhere.

Everything you do has a price.  Everything you don’t do has a price.  There is no free lunch no matter what many in our modern world think you can get for free.  You pay a price to change and you pay a price to maintain the status quo.  The price you pay may be in the form of money, time, stress, health, a confrontation, loss of friendship, loss of material things, or anything else for which you have value.

The price you pay to stay imprisoned in your trap is usually much more expensive than the price to get out.  If you choose to leave your dead-end job you will pay a price, but you are paying a price to stay in it.  You are paying the price of wasting your life on something you don’t enjoy.  You are paying the price of foregoing other opportunities that you don’t have time or resources to undertake because you are using them up in your current job.

You are paying a price to stay in an unhealthy relationship.  Many people are afraid to end a relationship because they are horrified by the imagined price they will have to pay to get out.  What they don’t truly see is the horrible price they are paying to stay in it.

To me the best approach is to just rip off the band aid – pay the price and be free as quickly as possible.  Take the temporary and possibly intense pain of the rip and get out.  Then you are free of the slow burning pain and free to get on with your new great life.  Prolonging the problem by refusing to pay the price will cost you far more in the long run.  People stay in bad jobs or relationships for years and the price they eventually pay to get out is far worse than the price they would have paid earlier.  They’ve also lost the opportunity to build something valuable in the meantime.  Don’t make that mistake!

How to Pay the Price For Freedom

Identify the the trap

Whatever is holding you back, there is always a way to get out of it.  Some common examples of these:

  1. A job you don’t want
  2. Unhealthy relationships
  3. Poor Health
  4. Commitments
  5. Debt
  6. Urban congestion
  7. Burdensome relatives
  8. Clutter
  9. Previous investments
  10. Lack of discretionary income
  11. Guilt
  12. Boredom
  13. Fear

Calculate the price to get out

If you want to be free from debt so you can unlock the golden handcuffs, then figure out what you have to do to be debt free.  You may have to sell your home or car and take a loss.  You may have to dig into savings.  The price may seem horrendously high to you but then what is the price you will pay to stay chained to your mortgage for the next 30 years?  What about the pain of that price?

If you want to be free from an unhealthy relationship, you may have to suffer the disapproval of relatives, the drama of a breakup, the pain of child-support, or the pain of the loss of a long-term relationship.  It may seem horrible, but what is the price you will pay to stay?

Whatever the case, get clear in your mind exactly what it will cost to gain freedom and what it will cost to maintain the pain.

I don’t dispute that there may be times that the price is too high, but those cases are the rare exception.  It is almost always case that the price to get out is much lower than the price to maintain.  If you find the price is higher than you are willing to pay, then get creative.  Keep looking for alternatives.  Don’t assume your first idea is the only one.  There is almost always an alternative available that will be worth the price in the long run.

Imagine what you will do with your new freedom

It is very important to understand what you will gain when you pay the price to get free.  You will likely underestimate the value of your freedom.  Most people have no idea what it is like to be free and what they will do when they are free.  If you gain freedom from debt you may be able to quit the job you hate and devote your time to your true life purpose and passion.  Figure it out. Don’t just quit your job and then sit at home and watch TV with no idea what you are going to do next.

Pay the price and be free

Imagine paying the price to get out over and over.  Visualize it until it no longer seems so bad.  Then pay it and get it over with.  Rip off the band aid.

Don’t get sucked into the mistake of taking the pain of the status quo for granted while imagining horrible price to gain your freedom.  You almost always underestimate the price of maintaining and overestimate the price of freedom.  It is the fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar that scare you.  It’s not that your current situation is comfortable, it is just familiar.  It’s the fake comfort of bearable pain that exists in your familiar zone.

You do not have to suffer the chronic problems that most of the world takes for granted and lives with on a daily basis.  You can be free if you are willing to pay the price.  Remember you are paying a price either way.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.


Get Free Updates to The Rat Race Trap by Email here or via a reader in the top left sidebar.  I would love to have you on board.

{ 1 trackback }

A University degree doesn’t guarantee a $40K Job | | Ramblings of a non-conformist | Tomasz Gorecki
August 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay Schryer August 8, 2009 at 7:52 am

This is so important, and something that people almost never take into consideration: The price of staying is often more “expensive” than the price of leaving. I think you’ve done an excellent job of pointing that out, and illustrating it. This is something that my own life has been trying to teach me recently, and so I thank you for putting it in a more pleasant form than life-lessons tend to be!
.-= Jay Schryer´s last blog ..Happy Birthday, Baby =-.


Stephen Mills August 8, 2009 at 11:47 am

@Jay, we so often accept the cost of the status quo without clarifying in our minds how much we are paying. It’s a terrible mistake. If you know the true price and accept it then that is a decision you have made and will have to live with.


Get Happy Life November 12, 2010 at 4:24 am

I was so angry when my ex broke up with me, even though I knew that our relationship was going nowhere. It was painful and I cried, begged and felt sorry for myself, but in the end, I felt free and released…

Sometimes quitting is winning.
Get Happy Life´s last blog post ..Don’t Be in Rush – Ever


NomadicNeil August 8, 2009 at 7:57 am

Another good thing to do is to examine what ‘pain’ and ‘price’ actually mean to you.
Maybe pain is actually the discomfort of the learning experience. Maybe you are not paying a price but making an investment.


Stephen Mills August 8, 2009 at 11:49 am

@NomadicNeil, I agree to a certain extent. But I think that is only definition. An investment is a price. It is an expenditure of resources that you don’t have to use for something else. So then an investment can be considered a price to achieve something good and a price you want to pay.


Kaizan August 8, 2009 at 8:27 am

This is an interesting topic. So many people get themselves in ruts, and really don’t know how to get out of them. Instead of doing something about it, they suppress it, leaving them with a nagging feeling in the back of their mind, that things aren’t going as well as they want.

You’ve given a really nice way to approach getting out of a rut. I especially like the idea of working out the “price to get out”. Very useful.
.-= Kaizan´s last blog ..Does Telling Everyone About Your Goals Make You More Likely to Achieve Them? =-.


Stephen Mills August 8, 2009 at 11:57 am

@Kaizan, thanks for joining us. Working out the price gives you clarity and clarity is always good!


Positively Present August 8, 2009 at 11:07 am

I really enjoyed this post. As you’ve noted, there’s always a price for getting out of a situation but sometimes it’s really worth the price you have to pay — especially if it’s a rut you’re trying to get out of.
.-= Positively Present´s last blog ..go on, admit you’re happy =-.


Stephen Mills August 8, 2009 at 12:00 pm

@Dani thanks! I think it is almost always worth the price. Sometimes getting out of a situation means changing it, but if it is hopeless you have to leave it. You can accept it (not usually a good idea), change it, or leave it.


meatlessmama August 8, 2009 at 11:08 am

You only get one life and you are paying a higher price with stress and wasted time by not getting out.
.-= meatlessmama´s last blog ..Spaghetti Squash =-.


Stephen Mills August 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm

@meatlessmama, you get one life and even more you get each minute only once. Just like your life, once that minute is gone it is gone.


Bakari August 8, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Great post.

I have to admit that during my teens and twenties I followed the policy of “ripping the band aid off” and I would do it now if I had some pressing problem. But I also learned that I needed to invest a lot of time doing things that I “loved” and avoid becoming involved in things that “pained” me. As a result, my profession (professor), my hobbies and relationships are things that give me joy and I can leave the band aids in the medicine cabinet.
.-= Bakari´s last blog ..Which You, Which Intelligence? =-.


Stephen Mills August 9, 2009 at 2:16 pm

@Bakari, thanks for the support. That you have the life you want is simply fantastic. That makes you a rather rare person nowadays. Congratulations!


MelzieC August 8, 2009 at 1:27 pm

I really needed to read this today, Stephen. I’ve been needless struggling to get a few projects launched simply because I haven’t ripped off the band aid. Enlightening as always, thanks for the encouragement!


Stephen Mills August 9, 2009 at 2:16 pm

@MelzieC, great and good luck!


Zeenat-Positive Provocations August 9, 2009 at 7:38 am

Stephen awesome post! Really blunt reality….but you really covered every aspect of this topic to be able to really make us think and reevaluate our lives. Are we truly paying the price for our decisions even today? I think to some extent we all are…maybe something very trivial…like being addicted to coffee…to something huge like being in a bad relationship. Sometimes its decisions made in the past..which are still eating at us. But the realization ….that this particular thing is the problem is very important. Once we realize that then the pulling off the band-aid wont hurt so much, cause in the long run it is eventually good for you. So the greener pastures will definitely reduce the pain of the rip off.
.-= Zeenat-Positive Provocations´s last blog ..Inspirational Quote Of the Week =-.


Stephen Mills August 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm

@Zeenat, thanks for you comments. It’s usually decisions made in the past that we now regret.


Shamelle- EnhanceLife August 9, 2009 at 8:01 am

When we are such a situation and pondering whether to “let go & move on” sometime the decision is heavily influenced by the “comfort zone” factor.
It may be “easy” to bare with it, rather than step out and look for something new.

How difficult it may be, we should always remember that
when one door closes, another will open.. and
we WILL be able to deal with whatever the future may throw at us.
.-= Shamelle- EnhanceLife´s last blog ..Harry Potter Author J.K Rowling: On Turning A Great Story Into A Billion-Dollar Franchise =-.


Stephen Mills August 9, 2009 at 2:19 pm

@Shamelle, it may seem easy but that’s just because we are used to it. It eats away at us over time. Thanks for your comments and wisdom 🙂


Diggy - August 9, 2009 at 8:37 am

Aloha Sir Stephen! 😉

Glad you got inspiration to write this post!
I think what many of us need is the inspiration and motivation to take action and get out of what we know is bad for us.

Where it comes to relationships, Ive had that, just like most people im sure, where I knew I should end it because its not really what i want, yet, because its comfortable and its nice being with someone, I didnt, and it only postpones the inevitable.

Its the same with trading stocks, say you have a position that is going against you and you are standing at minus $5000, that would be a horrible loss to take, so then you could think, well, the loss is just a paper loss, so Im going to hold on to the position, and 2 weeks later your position is at minus $30000 and you are forced to take the loss because of a margin call. What would have been better? Id say to have take the small in comparison $5000 loss and then you have plenty left to make it back.

The only problem is that nobody can for sure tell the future, and by hoping things will get better, many of us tend to stick with the things we should have quit a long time ago or right now!

Thanks for sharing! 🙂
.-= Diggy –´s last blog ..The art of 1 hour a day =-.


Stephen Mills August 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Hello @Diggy! I like your investment example. It’s one of the things I had in mind when I said the previous-investment trap. Yes, let’s do it right now!


Dragos Roua August 9, 2009 at 10:50 am

Hey, that was really, really good. Paying the price to get out, at a mental level, is one thing, but you pointed very clear what one should do in real life. Great reading 🙂
.-= Dragos Roua´s last blog ..Finding Reasons To Agree =-.


Stephen Mills August 9, 2009 at 2:23 pm

@Dragos, thank you so much for the support and your comments here today.


BunnygotBlog August 9, 2009 at 4:45 pm

This is an awesome post and so true. as reality has it everything comes with a price.
.-= BunnygotBlog´s last blog ..I Kicked This Guy In The Bots =-.


Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills August 9, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Hey Stephen, no beating around the bush here, very well put. I think that mediocrity is the price most often paid, and that fear is the most common prison. We only get one shot at each passing day. To forfeit extraordinary and settle for mediocrity is way too high a price to pay for not confronting our fears. NEVER SETTLE FOR LESS THAT EXTRAORDINARY.
.-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..Is It Time to Reinvent Yourself? =-.


lizz August 9, 2009 at 9:24 pm

I think this is very time appropriate – I have been toying around with figuring out how to get out of my work situation which is very detrimental to my health – I know that all bosses are a**holes for the most part, but when it gets to a point of constant mind games, that is really enough. I’ve stuck it out for two years as his assistant, and I think that is about all I can take. In the past two years I’ve had no personal life, I’ve gained a bunch of weight, and I’m bummed out most of the time. Work should NOT (!) be like this!

So, I’ll see what this week brings. But having this clarity helps me a great deal. If it were a romantic relationship, I would have no problem to kick ’em to the curb, but when money is involved, it seems like a more difficult situation.


Dan August 10, 2009 at 2:47 am

You definitely have to make a strong decision to make your life better, you almost even have to treat your life like a business, cut loose anything that doesn’t make your life better, invest in yourself and be prepared to piss a few people off. Not to say you should become a selfish asshole but you have look after yourself, especially when your happiness is at stake.
.-= Dan´s last blog ..6 Simple Steps Towards a Digital Nomad Lifestyle =-.


Steven Aitchison August 10, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Hi Stephen, this is thought provoking post. It would be great to put some kind of mental value on each of the traps you mentioned above for example putting a value of 90/100 to stay in the trap of an unhealthy relationship meaning 10% of it can still be seen as good. However when you look at the other side of leaving the relationship you might see a value of 40/100 meaning 60% of the cost of the leaving is good. When compared to each other it’s kinda obvious which one should be done. Putting a value on like this is a bit like doing good points/bad points but a lot quicker mentally.
.-= Steven Aitchison´s last blog ..6 Obstacles Threatening Your Progress. =-.


Wimpy October 2, 2011 at 7:56 am

I’m quite pleased with the inofratimon in this one. TY!


ytjyfwxlol October 2, 2011 at 11:52 am
Lily September 27, 2009 at 9:42 pm

How can one get out of a 30 year Mortgage that we can’t afford when homes are NOT selling? That’s our trap. Any coments greatly appreciated:)


Get Happy Life November 12, 2010 at 4:31 am

You may need to find additional streams of income, such as getting a second job, starting a side-business or online business, making money of your hobby, offer services as consulting of your area, become tutor or write articles for money, become an affiliate marketeer or … You get my point, if you are willing to commit, you can find another source of income.

The second way is to cut your expenses and live below your means. You may need to learn how to make family or personal budget to help you see where the money is blown.

I hope this helps
Get Happy Life´s last blog post ..How I Earned A Lot Of Money


Nate Gross November 17, 2009 at 2:14 am

It’s nice to see there are others using the “rip off the band aid” theory. This is almost a radical and frowned upon concept to many people. People who let the illusion of fear keep them in bondage. Once you get past a fearful mentality it is very liberating and allows you to actually achieve more. Life will not end if you “rip off the band aid of bondage.” Thank you for sharing this radical concept with so many people, Great site!


AlfredoHip July 2, 2015 at 2:12 am

watch fantastic four 2015 fantastic 4 watch online free fantastic 4 full movie no sign up


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge