Downshifting is the movement of slowing down. Not just physically, but in every aspect of your life including your work. Downshifters work less, consume less and stress less. The theory of the movement is founded in the belief that there's an ideal work-life balance that can be reached to maximize the greatest life satisfaction. It became popular in the mid 90s when the world was arguably at the most stable point in modern times. Crime was rapidly declining, the economy was booming and politics were boring. Many people recognized that working more didn't seem to provide the necessary glory it once did.
Downshifters believe that working beyond a certain threshold results in diminishing returns. This makes intuitive sense. We only have so much time in day and finding the correct balance between the opposing forces of work, family, friends and fun can be difficult to manage. Work 14 hours a day and you might be too tired to meet up with your friends on Friday after work.
We've all been there.
According to the downshifiting movement, the best way to find the correct work-life balance is to seek out the 'minimum effective dosage' of work you require to maintain your ideal lifestyle.
How? Break out the math!
If your salary was cut in half - along with your working hours - what financial obligations would you need to remove in order to keep your books on the positive side of your balance sheet? It may be less than you think!
Secondly, since you'll have less money but more time, what will you do with it? European vacations and Caribbean cruises are generally not the ideal goals of downshifting. Instead downshifters choose to create.
Write a book, code an app, paint a picture, build a shed. The key factor here is to make productive use of your time by creating. The creating doesn't have to be a solo endeavour. Maybe you volunteer at the hospital or in a classroom. Perhaps you train to become a local firefighter or community watch member. Be productive. With less.
Although the economic crash of 2008 and the political strife that followed (and continues to this day) slowed the movement down to the point where downshifting communities couldn't afford to update their websites, pockets of individuals carried the movement on.
Today, the COVID pandemic has injected a new spark into the idea of downshifting. When we were all forced to slow down, we realized how much we were missing. Many people forced to work from home have reported how surprised they were to see how much nature came through their backyards. As we inch ever closer back to normal, it's likely that we'll see a seismic shift in our work habits. Many people will choose to work less and create more.
The challenge is to keep away from the corporate distractions like Netflix and Tik Tok. But that's for another post...