Escaping the Survival Cost Trap: A Blueprint to Entrepreneurial Freedom

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship Startup Advice / July 31, 2023

In the modern world where old paradigms often dictate our paths, the pursuit of financial security frequently pushes us into roles we don’t love. A significant part of this issue lies in an age-old system: we go to college, accumulate debt, and end up working to fuel someone else’s dreams. This system’s trap, coined The Survival-Cost Trap, is a grim reality that many face. We defer our dreams and aspirations to the background as we dedicate our efforts and energy to jobs that provide stability but often lack fulfillment.

Understanding the Survival-Cost Trap

Survival costs encompass our basic necessities, such as food, rent, and clothing. These are non-negotiable expenses that we must meet to maintain a decent standard of living. However, The Survival-Cost Trap is more complex than just meeting our basic needs; it’s when these costs become inflated, chaining us to a lifestyle that constantly demands more. This is not just about surviving. It is about maintaining a lifestyle that may not be in line with our true passions.

For instance, someone might aspire to live in Silicon Valley, attracted by the booming tech scene. However, they quickly find themselves in a cycle where the rent is three times higher than the national average, and dining at restaurants becomes a daily routine due to the demands of their schedule. Suddenly, they are tied to jobs they don’t love because they need to meet these inflated costs.

The crux of the survival cost problem lies in this pattern. It’s when we let our lifestyle choices and geographical preferences dictate our expenses. This results in a cycle where we are constantly trying to catch up. It leaves little room for long-term success or pursuit of our true passions.

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Identifying the Passion – Back to the Drawing Board

The first step to breaking free from the survival cost trap is identifying our passions. What are the activities that energize us? What tasks can we do effortlessly and with joy? And what roles align with our core values and beliefs? To transition from the job we don’t love to the job we do, we must answer these questions honestly. Once we recognize our true calling, we can start to identify the barriers preventing us from pursuing them. This is often the inflated survival costs.

Breaking the Shackles – Overcoming the Survival Cost Trap

One of the key strategies to escaping the survival cost trap involves examining our expenditures and differentiating between essential and inflated costs. This introspection enables us to cut down on unnecessary expenses and adopt a frugal lifestyle. This reduces the survival costs that bind us to jobs we don’t love.

Moreover, it requires us to make conscious choices and sacrifices. As the saying goes, “We all want success, but what are you willing to give up to get it?” It might mean meal prepping instead of dining at fancy restaurants, sacrificing your party weekends to develop a new skill, or even moving back in with your parents to cut down on rent. While these might seem like challenging choices, they are crucial steps toward long-term success.

Investing in Mastery – The Path to Entrepreneurial Freedom

With our passions identified and the survival cost trap recognized, we now need to focus on honing our skills. This phase is about dedicating time to learning, practicing, and becoming a master in our field of interest. Yes, it may mean giving up immediate pleasures, but the long-term reward of achieving entrepreneurial freedom makes the journey worth it.

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Here, investing in ourselves is essential. Through online courses, training programs, or self-learning, we equip ourselves with the knowledge and skills required to excel in our chosen field. Not only does this help us become self-reliant, but it also positions us uniquely in the market, providing us with a competitive edge.

A Blueprint to Entrepreneurial Freedom

Escaping this survival cost trap is more than just a series of tactical steps. It requires a mindset shift – from immediate gratification to long-term fulfillment, from inflated survival costs to frugal living, from working in a job we don’t love to becoming masters in our field of passion.

The process involves creating a comprehensive transition plan, focusing on diversifying skill sets, adopting flexible work models, and eventually scaling up. Leveraging the power of the internet, we can offer services that resonate with our passion and scale them to reach a wider audience.

Escaping the survival cost trap is about shifting our focus from merely surviving to thriving. It’s not just about the financial aspect but also about finding fulfillment in our work and personal lives. It involves making challenging choices and sacrifices, but the end reward – living our dreams and leading a fulfilling life – makes it all worthwhile.

In the wise words of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, “One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.”┬áThis aptly applies to the survival cost trap. We must invent our way out – decide to prioritize long-term success over short-term gratification, invest in our passions instead of inflated lifestyles, and commit to working towards our dreams, not someone else’s.

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About The Author


Michael Peres is a journalist and software engineer best known for founding various tech and media startups. Peres has developed an interest in exploring the mindsets of those who've overcome their limitations and has a passion for sharing such stories, giving strength and inspiration to others.