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!
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Already done it. But then we quit the job and set off travelling the world just before the damned pandemic struck. Not done too bad since then though – travelled every time the shackles were taken off during the pandemic and ended up seeing places we hadn’t planned to see. I thought at the time that the world reaction to the pandemic, in terms if rules, restrictions and Government actions, was the most ridiculous and insane thing I’d ever witnessed. But then came the real shock: that bloody pandemic and the outrageous over reaction to it by authorities worldwide, did one more piece of more last damage: it shifted people’s decision making ability. OK so some are “quiet quitting” but there are just as many now leading their lives under new, ridiculous, meaningless, pointless rules. I’m still seeing travel blogs where seasoned travellers refer to the fact that they are still unable or unwilling to “risk” travelling. Risk of what, exactly??! All this and nobody will ever be held responsible for the devastation and destruction of economies around the world.
Bad timing guys, but it’s awesome you kept going! I agree completely, it has been a ridiculous and in many cases scarily ominous overreaction, I’m sure you know what I mean by that, and yes many have definitely gone to the other extreme of being absolutely cowed into submission by it all. But many haven’t. I guess the last few years have shown what people are really made of at both ends of the scale, I salute you for being one of the good ones! ;D (And yes, I am still waiting for anyone qualified enough to convince me of the risk!)
Definitely a new fad term for something that many of us have done for a long time, I definitely agree!
It really is, but these new fad terms do keep coming!
I have never put in any effort beyond the minimum at work, does that make me a trendsetter?
Haha, I guess it does Beth! Good job!
I always enjoy your straightforward, realistic view of the world. While I don’t always agree with some of the the issues raised, you make me think, which is a worthy goal. I hope everyone has learned something from the past 3-4 years as Covid continues to mutate and spread. We have to live with this. I wish I had discovered “quiet quitting” when I was still working (now retired), because it took a big mental and physical toll as I stayed late, spent time on meaningless goals, and put up with an insane boss. I did get a pension, however, and can now travel anytime I want; the best way to spend that hard-earned pension. Carry on!
Aw thank you! It would be a boring world if we all agreed on everything! ;D And yes, we do have to live with it, like we live with every other disease that mutates and spreads and emerges constantly. It’s just part of life. I get what you mean about work too, so many do exactly that, just put up with it. I’m jealous of your pension though! Keep spending it on those plane tickets! ;D
How can you say people haven’t suffered from covid? People died!
Yes, and people die every single day from a hundred other diseases. Do we stop the world for each and every one of them? I never said at all that people didn’t suffer, I said they suffered more from the ridiculous restrictions and punishments that were a reaction to what is a relatively mild virus.
This is all well and good but not everyone can work from a laptop, some of us have to physically be at our jobs, and not everyone can afford to just dismiss the cost of living crisis either. Travel is not a priority for me at the moment, paying the gas bill is.
That is absolutely right, my former career in nursing couldn’t exactly be done remotely, I couldn’t give resuss or bandage someone’s wound through a laptop, but I still found a way to balance my life with work. It’s more of a metaphor for a mindset at this point. You may not literally be able to work from a laptop, but you CAN change your paradigm. And again I agree, everyone has different situations and priorities, and the current situation may put many plans on hold or shift priorities for a bit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever follow your dreams. I mean how many once in a lifetime recessions have us Gen Xers gone through now?
As a fellow Gen X traveller (although I think a tad older than you) I agree completely. We have always had a different attitude to later generations and despite the ‘quit work and travel’ mentality that has been around for decades there is definitely a different feeling now, like after the last few years (and I agree completely on the cowardice of the authoritarian loving sheep) there is a real change in attitude towards what is important in life. I think there is still a lot of hurdles to travel thanks to those sheep, but I think those like you and others who have shifted their priorities in life because of covid and everything else will lead a genuine rennaissance in travel. The next decade will be very interesting.
It will indeed Bill, thanks for commenting
Very interesting. It does seem like more and more people are waking up to the idea that this work first mentality is not healthy
Well I’m not one to say I told everyone so, but … ;D
I love this! This is essentially what I did, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back.
Thanks Andie, and I know exactly what you mean. Once your eyes are opened …
3 years ago losing my job due to covid and then working remotely for a bit certainly made me reevaluate things a lot and I couldn’t agree more!
I’m sorry you went through that Ian but it sounds like you’ve managed to not let that keep you down?
Insightful as always! I think society is definitely undergoing a major change at the moment and who knows? Maybe shedding the ultra capitalist work at all costs mentality will be a good thing.
Who knows indeed?
The world changes. I hope it changes for good this time 🙂 The last few changes were miserable!!!
It can only get better from here, right? ;D
Very insightful, although I do find it funny how everyone talks about these things as if they are some new discovery when guys like you have been doing it and shouting about it for years! Keep up living the dream and inspiring everyone to do the same!
Ha, so true!