As the world wakes up from the collective insanity of the last few years, many people are taking stock of their lives and are learning a valuable lesson about what is important, specifically about work life balance. Quiet quitting may be a new buzz word, but it is part of a larger mentality that backpackers and travellers have preached forever.
The last few years have been, well, devastating. Industries have crumbled, careers and jobs have disappeared overnight, dreams have been demolished and people have suffered. Not from a virus, as bad as it was, but the collective brutality of the fearmongering and the worldwide reaction to it. Even as evidence emerges that many of us who stated it was an overreaction from the start were in fact right, there are still elements in society that want to drag us back into that, double down on it. They want to keep everyone locked down and living in an authoritarian prison permanently. They want us to be grateful for the new normal and go back to our cubicles. We should be grateful for ze rules. They keep us safe.
Thankfully there is a growing backlash to this. One benefit to come out of forcing everyone into lockdowns is that they took the time to revaluate things. Travel is returning with a vengeance despite some borders and some airline desperately clinging onto nonsensical ‘rules’ because people are seeing through the fear and are deciding that it is they who should make the risk assessment that is right for them, and are deciding they want to travel. The great resignation was so big they coined a phrase for it, and for those who can’t quit outright, they are going back to work and ‘quiet quitting’ because they are realising that they actually don’t have to put up with the bullshit of the work till you drop mentality.
Quiet quitting is just the latest buzzword for working to rule. It is essentially doing what your contract asks of you and no more. No more staying behind to do the paperwork or taking some perverse pride in being the first person to arrive and the last person to leave the office. The pandemic and working from home has made people see how mental that is. Of course there is the usual backlash of saying it is ‘doing the bare minimum’ or simply just calling people lazy, but that won’t work anymore. The cat is out of the bag. People’s priorities are changing! It isn’t ‘doing the bare minimum’ at all, it is simply doing your job and then prioritising other things like family, hobbies and travel.
This is not about ‘quitting’ work, it is about not avoiding life outside of it.
This of course is leading to a massive boom in career breaks and the ‘digital nomad’ culture too, where people have gotten used to working from home during the pandemic and now realise that they can actually work just as easily from a beach bar in Bali or a hotel room in Thailand, and why not? Wise employers are adapting to this and more and more countries are offering specific digital nomad visas and tax breaks to travellers who want to work from their laptop.
It is an amazing thing to see what backpackers have done for decades start to actually become mainstream.
I’ve noticed a trend over the last decade where people started to ask less and less when I was settling down, having babies, joining them in their nappy filled zombie like existence on the nine to five rat race because misery loves company. Instead, more and more often, people were simply asking ‘how’? And after the nightmare of the Covid reactions this process seems to have accelerated, leading to terms like quiet quitting.
Backpackers are no longer the drop outs, the hippies, the ones who are wasting our lives quitting work to bum around beaches in south east Asia. It turns out, we were the smart ones all along. We were the ones who had our priorities right. The ones who took multiple gap years in our twenties, the ones who quit work to travel for half of the year every year in a kind of perpetual mini retirement through our thirties and the ones who didn’t think twice about flying to the Philippines for a week and calling in sick to work once they arrived. Okay, those examples were just me, but I wasn’t alone in the mentality.
And now according to recent research, the backpacker mentality is growing! High stress levels across the workforce, tanking satisfaction levels, employers abusing annual leave entitlement, the pointlessness of work when you have no security, career progression or the fact you can’t even get on the housing ladder, it all contributes to the paradigm shift.
It is time to take the lessons of Covid and the ever present threat of authoritarian diktats and live our lives how we choose to live it. Work wants you back in the office? That’s their problem. Find a way to take your skills and work from your laptop. Work demanding you sell your soul to them on 7 day 24 hour contracts? Screw them, find something better. In that respect the quiet quitting trend has finally caught up to what we used to call working to rule, sticking it to the man or simply ‘fuck this I’m quitting and flying off to Mexico.’
That’s great, take that thought and run with it, keep going, because it doesn’t go far enough.
People are waking up to the fact that work is not a priority. It is important, yes, but only so far as it is needed to pay the bills. That doesn’t make it a priority. The true priorities in life, your family, your health, living life to its fullest with travel and adventure – not necessarily in that order – are the things that are truly important, the things we should truly devote our time and effort to. Work as much as you need to of course, but live life too!
The things that are put in our path to test us, the cost of living crisis, the economy crashing, again, pandemics, wars, they will always be there. There will always be something new. They will never end. I’m Gen X, and as cynical as my generation is we are realistic enough to understand that there will always be something around the corner, but we are also tough enough to know we have lived through it before and will do so again. So let’s get on with the living part while we still can.
Quiet quitting, the great resignation, the increase in digital nomad lifestyles, whatever you want to frame this as, can only be a long term benefit to everyone. Working less and prioritising your own life, family and travel is better for your mental health, it stops burnout, it is better for your sense of self worth and value as you start to define who you are outside of your job and start to follow your own dreams, and ironically, it probably makes you far more productive at the work you do end up doing too!
So quit, but don’t be so quiet about it! Take pride in your value shift, get out of that cubicle and travel more!
Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.