How to Escape the Rat Race: Our 5-Step Guide

how to escape the rat race

Everyone on this beautiful planet has the power within them to succeed in whatever endeavours they set their mind on, and that includes escaping the rat race.

Yes, it’s possible to create whatever you want in your life. Life has clear rules that enable you to create your lifestyle or do anything.

However, life has no idea what you want; you must give it clear and precise instructions. Life requires clarity from you, a precise and detailed clarity.

Way back in 1994, Ann and I had a dream. We wanted to build a sailing yacht and head off to meander around the Mediterranean.

We both told everyone we knew we would sail our sailing yacht around the Mediterranean in five years’ time.

A yacht that we did not have, with money which we had yet to learn where it was going to come from, to cruise around the Mediterranean on a sailing yacht and neither Ann nor I had sailed or navigated before.

Everyone thought we were utterly stark raving mad: our parents, brothers, sister, good friends, and work colleagues. They all said Ann, and I were stark raving mad.

Without knowing it at the time, we were speaking about our yacht and our lifestyle as if we were already living it.

We acted as if we already owned the yacht, and in doing this, we created the success we required to make our dream a reality.

Over time, Ann and I realised that clarity is the key to making success a reality, and this clarity will enable you to escape the rat race and live your dream lifestyle.

In this 5 step guide, I will take you through the process of creating clarity in your life so you can escape the rat race starting today. Please use the table of contents to navigate this guide, let me suggest to work through it top to bottom. It will take some time to read and complete so, if you don’t have the time right now, bookmark this post and come back later.


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Workbook for tasks in the 5-Step Guide that made my dream lifestyle a reality.

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Work Book for tasks in the 5-Step Guide with my actual examples of what worked for me from 1996


How to Escape the Rat Race: Pre Step 1 Setting the Scene

Hello, Mike Ruffles here. Welcome. The guide’s purpose is to give you the key to help you create magical results in your quest to escape the rat race and live your dream lifestyle.

Before you start to create these results, there is one question that requires answering:

“What do you want?”

It’s a simple question, just four words. Still, it is a question that, without understanding how to answer it in a way that life understands, inevitably leads to confusion, uncertainty, and sometimes darn right misery.  

In 1996, my wife and I had a dream: to do something that didn’t exist in our lives at the time.

That dream was to escape the rat race and live our dream lifestyle by owning a sailing yacht and meandering around the Mediterranean in the sun.

At the time, we had no yacht, we had no idea how we were going to get one, we had no idea how we were going to get the income to head off to the Mediterranean, let alone quit our jobs and escape the rat race, it all didn’t exist in our world at the time.

Now, where did it all come from?

A couple of years before that, in 1994 (I was 33 years old), I had been at work contemplating another 30 years of the same old, same old.

I was a quality engineer for a manufacturing company that made car parts, including Ford, Nissan, and others.

My thoughts were:

“Another 30 years of this”.

Thirty more years of a two-hour commute to work and back, ten hours or more battling suppliers, departments, and bosses. I didn’t want to do this anymore. There must be something else I could do, an easier way to escape this rat race.

So, I started looking at other options. I designed several products and tried to market them to local shops, and although one of these was a slight success, I only covered my costs.

The other ones were a total disaster, and I lost money.

how to escape the rat race

Being in Business may not have been a good idea. But deep down, something told me I didn’t have to conform to the norm.

I didn’t have to follow the flow of working for forty years, then retiring, and doing all those things that I dreamt of doing when I was young enough to do them.

In 1995, I discovered the Self-Development Industry through books by Napoleon Hill, George S Clason, The Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, and Neale Donald Walsch. These authors showed me the way to where I am now.

These authors led me to consider and write down what I truly wanted, what I really wanted my life to be like, and what I wanted to be in my life.

I listened to a cassette tape (yes, a tape) by Deepak Chopra, called Creating Affluence and in that tape, he said:

“The money will come from where the money is at.”

The way he explained this made perfect sense to me, and I believed in what Mr Chopra was describing. I thought this man was correct. Let’s not worry about all the details; everything I needed to make my dream a reality would come from where it was at.

I believed in the process; I trusted that what I wanted would come to me from where it’s at.

Now, depending on where you are in your journey of self-development, this could sound either futuristic or ridiculous, or it could be the missing key element to making your dream a reality.

I believed in the process because I had decided that whatever I had been doing up until that point had not worked.

I needed to take some responsibility for my so-called failures.

They were not really failures; they were just words that society used to make us feel we were at fault. But more about that later.

Once you have gotten clarity as to what you want and trust that it will come from where it’s at, you’ll never worry about money or anything else again.

How to Escape the Rat Race: Pre Step 2 How We Escaped

In 1996, I told everyone that I was going to sail my sailing yacht around the Mediterranean in five years’ time.

A yacht that I did not have, with money that I had yet to learn where it was going to come from, to cruise around the Mediterranean on a sailing yacht and I had never sailed or navigated before.

Everyone thought I was utterly stark, raving mad: my Mum, my Dad, my brother, my sister, good friends, and my work colleagues.

Without knowing it at the time, I spoke about my yacht and my lifestyle as if I was already living it.

It was as if I already owned the yacht and didn’t listen to the neg ferrets.

My friend, clarity is the key.

I got clear about what I wanted my life to be and when I wanted it by. That was the key then, and that is the key now.

Now, what I want you to do, is to have a clear outcome even if the method of accomplishing that outcome has yet to be entirely clear.

The outcome is most likely in the same place as the money; the outcome is where it’s at, just like the money.

Just as Deprek Chopka says:

“The money will come from where it’s at.”

Meaning: The outcome will come from where it’s at.

I would like you to have a clear outcome, even if the method for accomplishing that outcome has yet to be entirely clear.

I would like you to take massive action to achieve the outcome of the words I say even before you understand them. Focus on your vision, your dream, and start running towards it even if there’s no clear path to be seen yet.

Just like NASA, when they sent the first Apollo 11 rocket to the moon, it was off course 98% of the time.

“Your energy cannot be steered if you are not exerting a massive action towards your outcome, towards your dream.”

So, what happened to Ann and me?

Well, we both went on sailing courses. We learnt to sail and navigate and loved it.

We took course after course; I read many books about boat building, engines, sails, masts, and rigging and loved them all.

Then, in August of 1996, a good friend called and said these words:

“Hi Mike, I have a great opportunity for you; it could help you get your yacht quicker and head off to the Mediterranean. Want to take a look?”

Of course, I did (the path was getting clearer, and the place where the money was coming from was revealed), but that’s a different story for another time.

I couldn’t sail or navigate, but as soon as I had learnt those things, a path to financing my dream revealed itself.

Would that have happened if I hadn’t taken those courses, learned about boat building, or read the books?

I honestly don’t know; all I know is that as I took action toward my goal, towards making escaping the rat race and making my dream a reality, doors started opening.

It all came from the place it was at, and it all arrived just in time. That’s the way this all works: just keep taking action towards your goal, your dream, and at the right time, everything will fall into place.

I know it’s a big leap of faith right now, but that’s how this stuff works in the universe we all live in.

How to Escape the Rat Race: Pre Step 3 Outcome and Clear Vision

In hindsight, I now know that I had set an outcome with a clear vision before any of it existed, and this is where the magic happened.

Think about this briefly. Pause for a few minutes if you want. When did magic like this happen to you?

When have you thought about an outcome, had a clear vision, maybe even the smallest of things, and then forgotten about it for a while?

And suddenly, that outcome, that vision, created itself before your eyes?

It may have taken a week, a month, three months or even longer, but suddenly, it arrived right there before you.

It was like that for me.

I had that dream of escaping the rat race to meander around in the sun, that outcome in mind, and I just went ahead and took the courses, read the books and a year later, that phone call came out of the blue.

Four years later, we were on our way to the Mediterranean in our sailing yacht Ruffles Spray.

Why did this all happen?

Because my wife and I took action, we decided to take action before we knew how we would get it all done.

We decided to act on our vision and our outcome before we knew how to do it.

So, how do we set all this into motion?

“Set a clear goal and take action, no matter what happens or how many obstacles you think there are right now. Get up in the morning with a purpose and take action, no matter what.”

The difference between failure and success is:

“Failure has no clear outcome, failure doesn’t take action, failure wants to figure out every possible scenario, failure wants to figure out everything before failure starts to take action.”

Failure doesn’t want to get its hands dirty before it knows the perfect solution, whereas:

“Success has clarity. Success has a clear vision and a clear goal, and Success acts before It knows exactly how to do it and corrects the mistakes in the process of action.

That’s where the magic happens because it all comes to Success from wherever it’s at.”

My friend, the ones who will make their dream lifestyle, their escape from the rat race, a reality are those who just got that. If you didn’t, please go back and read it again.

Take action because your focus on your vision is taking a blind leap and correcting as you go along.

That’s how success happens. Whatever you require to make your vision, goal, or dream a reality will come along when it’s needed, just in time.

“You can’t steer a ship that is not moving, and a rocket is off track 98% of the time on its way to the moon. You can only correct the action that’s being taken.”

How to Escape the Rat Race: Pre Step 4 The Magic of Outcome

What I want to discuss now is the magic of outcomes. But first, what is the difference between success and failure?

“The difference between success and failure is having a clear outcome and taking action on that outcome before you know how to do it.”

That’s the difference. The people who don’t succeed don’t take action until they know how to do it. They are always searching for the how, always trying to learn the shortcut, and always waiting for the path to become clear to them.

Usually when a path materialises, it has already changed but they cannot see it as they are caught up in the ‘I found the path moment’, not realising that the path has already adjusted itself, they take the path and it’s a dead end.

“Then they give up, they stop taking action.”

Instead of stopping taking action, go back to the original path and continue along that path. Another path will open. Keep taking action, and the magic happens.

Taking action before you know how to do it, that’s where the magic happens.

So, the first step is setting an outcome, a perfectly clear goal, and doing it in a way that will help you get the results that you want.

I’m going to do that with you now: walk you through and teach you how to get clear, how to set a clear goal, how to believe, and how to take action.

Will this work for you?

To answer that question, let me ask you what you believe.

Do you believe it?

Take a moment.

Just relax.

Take some deep breaths.

Close your eyes.

Breathe in slowly, breathe out slowly.

Now, what is your gut reaction saying to you?  

Deep down, what do you feel?

Yes?

Or

No?

What is your answer?

Yes, or No?

Yes? Please continue.

No? Go back to the beginning and read again.

What we will do now is set an outcome that is clear, with a time stamp from now, say one year from today, whatever day you’re reading this eBook, add one year for the same day next year.

Ok, the first question is:

What is the goal? What outcome do you want to achieve one year from now?

This could be a goal you’ve been thinking about for a while or just popped into your head.

Now, your mind may immediately be saying:

“Don’t be daft. That will never happen in one year; ignore that, put that to one side, listen to it, let your mind finish the thought, but just set that thought aside.”

Concentrate on the outcome, the goal. Write it down, no matter how absurd it feels. It doesn’t matter if that neg ferret on your shoulder is shaking its head!

It doesn’t matter if your next thought is:

“It’ll never happen for me.”

Ignore this; just put it on one side.

Acknowledge it, but then flick it away, flick it over there, and forget about the thought.

Now, pause, take another deep breath, and take some time to write whatever pops into your head.

Okay, you now have probably got a few things written down: that new car, that holiday, that Motorhome, that sailing yacht, that extension on your house, that new house, that first house, that holiday, that new job, that new lifestyle, that new partner, that new feeling, that new you.

Choose a goal that stretches you further than you ever thought possible.

That true dream you’ve had pop into your head a few times over the last few years.

It’s got to make you think, wow, yes, that’s what I want; that’s my dream.

It must be something you can commit to and have a purpose.

I’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Ensure you have written them all or that one goal, that one dream down.

Don’t continue without doing this; do it right now.

How to Escape the Rat Race: Pre Step 5 Let’s Get Immensely Personal

Let us now take this one step further.

Let me get immensely personal:

“Do you know what you want your life to be like? Do you really know? In complete detail?”

Not just a collection of superficial statements that sound like something but don’t really mean anything specifically. You know what I mean right?

Hollow statements like:

“I want to escape the rat race; I want to be rich; I want financial freedom; I want to be successful at work, successful in my business, or I want to be happy. “

All that just won’t cut it. Statements like these do not have the power to create motivation, perseverance, and the plain durability needed to overcome the resistance, both internal and external, you’ll face as you take action towards your goal.

Lots of people have a vague picture of what it means to succeed. They say things like:

“I’d like Bill Gates’s wealth, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s or Angelina Jolly’s physique, Albert Einstein’s intelligence, Michael Jordan’s athletic ability, Steve Jobs’ business skills, or Walt Disney’s imagination.”

Don’t get me wrong—all those abilities would be nice to have, but they wouldn’t be reality-based, and because of that, they lack all the power you get when you really clarify what you want for yourself. I mean, really, how do you prioritise a list like that?

Impossible. You simply can’t. You need to get immensely specific about what you want.

What you really want, not what would be nice to have based on someone else’s dream.

Some people make the mistake of having a list of ‘nice to haves’, which can help them avoid figuring out what they really want.

This doesn’t work at all. Most people are on this path, simply letting life happen to them.

“You need to be able to describe it in a way that paints a picture. That’s the clarity you need to create.”

Without knowing precisely what you want, you won’t be able to erect the boundaries you need to safeguard yourself from getting totally consumed by life itself around you.

One thing I have noticed from the life coaches, business people, and trainers that I have had the privilege of being coached by is that most of them didn’t figure out what they wanted out of life until they hit rock bottom.

They either failed, went bankrupt, or sacrificed their health or family. It was only then that, sick and tired of living a life they did not want, the lights finally turned on as their experiences of the things they didn’t want finally made them figure out what they really did want.

Then, finally, they had enough clarity about precisely what they wanted, and that clarity gave them the motivation to go after it.

So, what about you? Can you create a very clear picture of your life in your mind?  Can you see it?

Can you really see it right here as if it were true right now? I don’t want you to go through with a life you don’t want but to finally realise the life you do want.

Trust me, it is not a fun wake-up call to receive.

Pause again.

Take another deep breath.

Close your eyes.

Take another deep breath.

Good, lets now look at some steps to your ideal life:

Clarifying your life is a five-step process. Let’s have a quick overview of the steps we will take together.

  • Step 1: Determine which things you definitely don’t want in your life.
  • Step 2: Determine which things you definitely do want in your life.
  • Step 3: Define what an ideal day would look like for you.
  • Step 3: Let’s talk about money.
  • Step 5: Framing

You will see how all this ties together and why they are in this specific order as we go through them together.

How to Escape the Rat Race: Step 1

What you don’t want!

We will start the process by first thinking about everything you don’t want in your life.

Does that sound strange?

If you are trying to determine what you want in your life, why start with what you don’t want it to be?

It’s simple; most of us are a bit clearer about what we don’t want in our lives than we are about what we do want.

By surfacing those things you don’t want in your life, you stand a better chance of clearly identifying what you want. Plus, you can ensure that the life you design for yourself is absent of all those negative things you are about to list.

Now that has been stated, here are the instructions:

Take 15 minutes to list everything you do not want in your life. Do not think about this too much. Write what pops into your head.

Make as long a list as you need.

Don’t analyse why that thing popped into your head. Just write it down.

A good place to start is to think about the things you currently deal with that leave you stressed, frustrated, worried, embarrassed, and unfulfilled.

Pause and empty your head. Please do not say: “I’ll do this later.”

Please do not say I will read through this blog post first, then read it again, and then do the tasks.

This never works. You’ll never come back to it. Life will rear its head.

Something else will occur, and you will never come back.  I urge you to do it now.

How to Escape the Rat Race: Step 2

Okay, now that you have clarified what you don’t want in your life, it’s time to shift 180 degrees and focus on what you want.

For now, it is essential to stay away from money. There will be time for this later. For now, realise that money is just a means to an end. For now, we are focusing on the ends and not the means.

Here’s what you need to do:

Again, take 15 minutes to make a long list of everything that you do want in your life.  Again, do not overthink this. Just write down whatever pops into your head.

An excellent place to start is to look at the things you have experienced that made you happy, proud, excited, blessed and fulfilled.

You can use the list you just created of what you don’t want to spur ideas of what you do want.  Take 15 minutes, and we will continue.

How to Escape the Rat Race: Step 3

OK, now that you are clear about what you do not want and what you do want, it is time to use this information to construct a perfect day in your ideal life.

“The reason being is that an ideal life is made up of many ideal days.”

You will be glad that you listed your wants and your don’t wants, as this will make this exercise much easier to accomplish.

With this in mind, remember to refer to those lists frequently when going through this exercise.

Here is what you’re going to work towards to come up with what would be your perfect normal day if there were no limitations on what it could be:

“What would your perfect normal day look like? What would your perfect normal day look like if there were no limitations on what it could be?”

Let’s break down this question by highlighting certain words and what I mean by them:

  • Perfect – a day that delivers as many of those things you have identified in what you want while avoiding as many (if not all) those things you’ve listed that you don’t want. Normal – a day that isn’t a one-time event but a routine day in your ideal life. So, no meeting your favourite pop star, partying in Saint Tropez, or anything other than what’s routine.
  • No Limitations—Forget about your current responsibilities, obligations, and any and all physical constraints (money, job, business, etc.). If you could live your life in any way you wanted, leave all that behind you.
  • Many people freeze up when they attempt to write out their ideal day, so I found that it is easier to answer questions that lead to having everything done. It should take you less than 30 minutes to complete this.

When you think of this perfect day, be very specific, extremely detailed and clear, let’s start:

Overall Lifestyle questions:

  • Where do you live (city, town, countryside, on the water in the mountains, which country?)
  • What do you live in? (an apartment, house, mansion, penthouse, a yacht, farm, villa)
  • Who are your friends? (what are they like, what do you do together and what do you talk about)
  • What hobbies do you have and how often do you do them?
  • What do you do for personal fulfilment?
  • Describe your relationship with your spouse (and children) what do you do together?
  • How much time do you spend together?

Your Job or Business:

  • How many hours a day do you work?
  • What are your primary responsibilities?
  • What do you do whilst working?
  • What hours do you work?
  • When do you start and finish?
  • Describe your work environment (home, office etc)
  • Talk about your work colleagues or team, how do they make you feel?
  • What about your work makes you proud?

Your day:

  • What time do you wake up?
  • Let’s break your day into four-hour intervals.
  • How, where, what and with whom do you spend the first quarter of your day?
  • How, where, what and with whom do you spend the second quarter of your day?
  • How, where, what and with whom do you spend the third quarter of your day?
  • How, where, what and with whom do you spend the fourth quarter of your day?

By answering the above questions, you will be able to clarify your vision of the life you want and create a clear picture of your ideal day.

That’s important because an ideal life is made up of many ideal days. Ok it’s time to take 30 minutes to get these questions answered don’t wait do it now, today, this minute.

That’s where success starts in the doing now, not putting it off; that’s where failure lives.

Now that you have completed that there’s some great news:

“Once you have defined your ideal day, you’ll immediately find that being more aware of your priorities puts things into perspective.”

Focusing on a brighter future and ideal life pulls you towards it and it towards you.

You’ve heard the phrase The Law of Attraction? Focusing on an ideal future relaxes the mind and helps you to respond, not react, to whatever situation comes your way.

How to Escape the Rat Race: Step 4

Let’s talk about money; when I ask people about their financial goals, most have arbitrarily picked numbers that do not mean much to them.

This is a big mistake. Money is an abstract concept, and it’s incredibly difficult to get excited about and motivated by it.

You see, money is not the end; it’s the means to an end, meaning a heap of money by itself is just paper and ink.

How you plan on using the money, in other words, to obtain the freedom and lifestyle you desire, is what money allows you to have.

Quick tip:

When you consider how you would spend money, it’s much easier to come up with the figure you require to make each month to live the life you just described.

More importantly, what you plan on doing with that figure makes achieving it more fun, exciting, and motivating.

So now that you have figured out what you want, how much will it cost to get and keep?

How much will the ideal life you just articulated cost to achieve and sustain?

How much monthly income would you need to live 30 ideal days a month? Or 365 days a year?

You know your income now and how much it would take to live those ideal daily days.

Income per month, please.

While this is optional for our purposes in this blog post, it should be part of your to-do list.

This will give you absolute clarity about what you really need to accomplish to live the life you have just described.

Please make no mistake; most people do not take the time to figure out what they want; they believe that everything will sort itself out.

But it will not. That’s just not how this universe or life works.

Unless you take the time to really figure out what you want, it should be obvious that the key to living a life of freedom is to define what freedom means to you; besides all the great minds throughout the centuries have said in one way or another:

“Start with the end in mind. Life is funny that way, life works better when we think backwards and live our lives forward.”

Now think about this question:

If you don’t have the will and desire to figure it out and write down what you want, what makes you think you’ll have the will and desire to go after it?

It’s not required for our purpose here, but it’s a good idea to write down a detailed description of your ideal day so that you can review the life you want each morning and remind yourself each day why you are doing everything you are doing.

This helped me a lot over the five years it took to build the yacht and the business that our friend asked us to look at. It also helped me keep focused when things didn’t look like they were progressing.

Were there many obstacles presented over these five years?

Of course, they were. There were many of those forks in life’s road to be recognised. On many occasions, both Ann and I had to adjust the course.

As the rocket to the moon requires constant course changes, so does the path.

How to Escape the Rat Race: Step Five

Okay, I am going to take you through a process of placing this goal in the future of your life, in the future of your timeline.

What I want you to do now is to take a deep breath, exhale, another deep breath, exhale, and relax.

It doesn’t matter what you have written to visualise.

It may be the monthly income you need to live your dream life.

It may be something else; it doesn’t matter if it sounds ridiculous right now.

What I want you to do is to see yourself in that picture.

See yourself in front of your computer or the situation you described earlier.

Whatever your evidence is, see yourself there. See it in your mind.

I want you to see where you are at.

Feel your surroundings.

Feel the chair you are sitting on.

Feel the wind or the sun on your face, arms, and legs.

Hear the traffic noise coming through the window or see the wind blowing the trees outside.

Maybe you are in your house.

Feel the carpet under your feet.

See your cat or dog jumping up or rubbing against you.

See the people around you, your wife, husband, and children.

Get that image clear in your mind.

Now, what I want you to do is step outside of that image, just as if you were rising.

It’s as if you were above yourself and looking down on yourself, doing what you are doing, observing yourself in the place where you are at, accomplishing your goal.

That is you down there accomplishing your goal.

Now, take that picture and place it in a frame as if it were a picture frame.  As if it is a picture with a frame around it.

Now, grab it with your hands and imagine yourself floating with it in your hands.

Most people see time like this:

The future is to the right, and the past to the left.

Some see time with the future ahead and the past behind, it doesn’t matter how you see it, just imagine yourself floating in time.

Whichever way you see the line of time, what I want you to do now is to start floating to that time in the future, one year from today, floating to that moment in time, one year from now.

Now, place that frame right there.

You are accomplishing that goal one year from now.

Now, fly back from that day in the future and fly back to the now.

To the today.

Now, I want you to stand still, look into the future, and imagine yourself accomplishing that goal in one year’s time.

I want you to see yourself throughout this coming year taking massive action and accomplishing the goal.

Come back to the now and open your eyes. Now, read your perfect day out to yourself again.

Close your eyes again and see yourself accomplishing your goal in a year’s time. From today onwards, read your perfect day once in the morning and once in the evening, then visualise yourself in the future to accomplish your goal.

See it every day for the next year.  Do it every day.

Watch for the road signs. Adjust your course and take massive action.

One final thing: moaning and groaning about things changes nothing and never does anyone any good. If you don’t want to do anything to change it, stop complaining about it.

If you can’t do anything to change it, no matter how much you want to, then accept it for now and resolve to create a different tomorrow.

But don’t let today be ruined while you are waiting. You don’t have to figure everything out.

The path to tread will become clear to you as you take action toward your goal. Does all this make sense?

You now know how to create clarity for escaping the rat race and creating your dream lifestyle. This clarity will start your journey towards your goal, your dream.

But—and here comes the ‘but’ you’ve been waiting for, perhaps? The one thing I can’t tell you is, how long it will take to realise your goal, your dream, or escapeing the rat race.

That’s the one thing that makes life so exhilarating, so interesting, so worth living. Keep taking action. Keep treading the path. Keep reading your perfect day.

Keep visualising yourself achieving your goal in the future, and in a year’s time, perhaps six months, or even sooner, you will achieve that goal, that dream and escape the rat race forever.

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Access to Private Facebook Group. Ask questions and get advice

MOBI & PDF Versions of eBook for eReaders and Tablets

Work Book for tasks in the 5-Step Guide with my actual examples of what worked for me from 1996

How to Make the Lifestyle You Dream of a Reality even if You don’t Love Your Job

Where do I send the bundle?

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