Send questions about careers, productivity and work-life balance to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and location, or request to remain anonymous.
I see some of my colleagues putting in half the effort I do, which I think is unfair considering we are all paid the same. I admit that work is getting quite stressful, and I don't know why I should work harder when I don't have to. Should I do what everyone else is doing and not do anything beyond my duties?
Let me give you an insight into hard work and persistence, and the fine line of work-life balance.
Today, everyone is talking about a new movement that drove "The Great Resignation" and that's the notion of "Quiet Quitting," which is supposedly the antidote to hustle culture. Millennials and Gen Z'ers are joining this resistance against hustle culture and toxic work environments.
What is quiet quitting?
Quiet quitting is a trend where employees choose not to go above and beyond their jobs, including skipping extra assignments that fall outside their core duties and refusing to answer emails on evenings and weekends.
According to Gallup:
- Only 21% of employees are engaged at work
- Only 33% say they're thriving in their overall well-being
- 44% say they feel high levels of stress daily (an all-time high
Risks of quiet quitting:
Quiet quitting needs to be clarified; otherwise, many things can go wrong. In our current society, nuances can be dangerous.
Before you get offended, please remember these are all perspectives, including those that see risks in quiet quitting, such as:
- Good employers with strong work cultures will be punished. This movement should only target bad employers.
- Some people cannot differentiate "burnout" from "laziness."
- Employees early in their career risk destroying their chance to succeed by not developing a strong work ethic.
- If taken to extremes, we may create a generation of lazy workers and "quitters" who don't understand the value and necessity of hard work.
- Boundaries are good, but sometimes they need to be pushed. You need to endure tough times to build resilience.
- Innovation may cease.
Some uncomfortable truths:
- Work-life balance is a myth.
- We are all replaceable in a world of 7+ billion people driven by dopamine, the chemical in our brain for motivation and drive.
- Life is going to happen no matter what.
- We can't always get what we want in life.
- You're the only one who can decide what's best for you.
Balance itself doesn't exist because life will always be pulling you in one direction or the other. If balance was achievable, we'd all live in utopia.
Once you stop trying to achieve that dream and go with the flow, your life will become seemingly more effortless because there is less resistance from labels you create in your mind.
Let's break it down.
1. Finding balance depends on where you are in your career
If you are in your 20s or just starting, please don't get into the habit of "quitting" just because things get complicated.
Life is going to be tough. But you can still make the most of it.
I truly believe in going "above and beyond" and delivering past expectations because you need to wire your mind for challenges. You are smart enough to choose. It's up to you to evaluate where you are in life, and if you can't and have to conform to someone's opinions, you may have other issues to work on.
- If you are a new parent, you may want to consider 'slowing down.'
- If you are young, single and have free time, there is nothing to lose in "hustling" and gaining as much experience as possible.
- If you work for a toxic employer but have bills to pay, go ahead and "quietly quit" while using your free time to level up your skills so you can find a new job. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly.
"No man's knowledge here can go beyond his experience" - John Locke
2. We are all replaceable
Admit it or not, we are all cogs in a colossal economic machine. It will run with or without you, so adapting is in our best interest.
No, this isn't a depressing thought — it's how you choose to look at it. Instead of sulking, you can build resilience to make life easier by cultivating good habits such as:
- Working on yourself (personal development)
- Exercising daily
- Eating right
- Meditation (I recommend the "Insight Timer" app for free meditations)
- Having good relationships
- Getting sunlight or getting outside every day because we all live by our circadian rhythm
- Staying curious: writing/reading/learning
Trust me; when you have basics covered, life becomes a lot more "effortless" because you are these habits hardwired into your brain without resistance.
It's like breathing or brushing your teeth — something you do without effort.
3. We all need resilience to survive
There's nothing to sugarcoat.
I don't believe in sacrificing your life for work, but we must build a certain mindset to survive in this tough world. After all, I became an entrepreneur because I didn't want my work to define me or take over my life. But it took me years of hard work to get here and I'm still a work in progress.
When I started my career at 20 in tech, I worked hard, long hours, but it instilled discipline and resilience. I was also consulting as my side hustle and worked out daily. I loved every minute of that difficult journey. I would never trade that for anything that experience.
Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and freedom needs to be earned.
If I started with the life I have now, there's a chance I would have become complacent.
4. Life is going to be unfair
Society is highly competitive. There will always be people with better socioeconomic advantages than you, but we can't choose to ruin our lives with things out of our control. Having a victim mindset will only hold you back because no one is coming to save you.
I wasn't born into a wealthy family, and I knew it, so I taught myself everything I knew. I grew afraid to ask my parents to buy me another Barbie shoe because of how hard they worked. When I was finally legal to work, I promised I would work hard and earn everything I've ever wanted by myself.
Lately, I've been using this mantra and saying it to myself every time something doesn't go my way:
"Katy, you can't always get what you want."
Mantras work. I've been using it ever since I got into fitness and Crossfit 15 years ago. Mantras are words or phrases you say to yourself as a pep talk when times get tough. Your brain gets rewired by repetition, so if you repeat something to yourself, you'll start to believe it. Your brain will begin to believe it. This is the power of neuroplasticity.
Here are a few more I've used over the years:
- Trust the process.
- Now or never.
- Just do it.
- I f--ing love this.* (I repeated this to myself when I started to do the Grouse Grind a decade ago, and now I truly love it.)
5. Nothing is black and white
We need to stop these extreme polarizations because a healthy society requires compromise.
Most people cannot handle the complexity of controversial issues resulting in a divided society. It's much easier to take one side than try to understand what we don't know. When people are exposed to views that shatter their paradigm, they get defensive, but our primal brain protects us from "danger."
The danger is no longer a lion chasing you — but a stranger on Facebook disagreeing with you.
The primal part of your brain is repulsed by anything different. It's a survival mechanism we evolved with — but many of us have yet to develop the awareness not to let this bias ruin our lives.
To upgrade your mindset, remind yourself of this every time you get triggered by a disagreement.
When it comes to quiet quitting, you need to evaluate where you are in your life — it can be detrimental to your career if you follow the herd.
The key takeaways on quiet quitting
There is no wrong or right to quiet quitting. Only you can make that decision — not a stranger you are arguing with on Twitter or your uncle on Facebook you see once every six years.
Say yes to:
- Employers who foster healthy work cultures.
- Creating healthy mental boundaries between your personal and professional life by looking at the big picture.
- Going above and beyond to deliver your highest-quality work.
- Actively competing with your peers to climb the career ladder. Without healthy competition, there is no innovation.
- Prioritizing time to learn new skills if you want to change careers.
- Practicing a semblance of work-life balance.
Say no to:
- Sacrificing your mental health because of a toxic employer.
- Accepting the status quo if you are being mistreated.
- Quitting just because "work is hard." Sometimes you have to stick with it for a little while, but otherwise, you will train your mind to stop when facing challenges. Resilience is built through persistence.