Have you noticed how busy everyone seems to be these days? We are so busy doing, achieving, tweeting, following, emailing, texting, connecting, keeping up and just working. And yes, we live in a 24/7 world. But it was the light bulb that changed the game in terms of having light when we wanted. It was never social media and technology that made us busier. That is merely an illusion.
Choices have always been available to us. With growing fear in the workplace, people are putting more hours into work and have a false sense they need to be available whenever the job requires. Mantras like work-life balance make many resentful when they work on the weekends and know they simply need to work the hours to keep their jobs. And the older generation is befuddled by the younger generation who looks at this work reality and thinks it’s ridiculous. They see the world as life-work; a means to an end. They are not all defined by what they want to do but how they want to live.
And it brings us back to an aging population of workers who is asking themselves: “is this it?” There must be more to life. Many are starting to realize that they have simply been numbing themselves with being busy. It’s easier to be busy than to do the hard work and find out what it is they really want to be doing–apart for working 24/7 and numbing themselves with more and more work. It’s easy to have a big title and feel satisfied with the money that gets deposited in the bank account like clockwork. But what about time to be there for themselves, their families, friends and community?
It’s easy to eat great food and drink fabulous wine and cocktails. It is easy to keep busy and feel so needed by our jobs that nothing else matters. A friend, who was blindsided by a layoff, told me that his company always expected him to put his work before his wife and kids (with the mantra of work-life balance in the background) and he would. He worked the long hours. He worked weekends. He gave his job his all. And then one day, he was told he was no longer needed at work. They had no choice but to lay him off. And while they expected his family to be understanding of what they demanded of him, when they cut their ties, they provided no support for his family. There was no one for them to talk to and help them through the transition. The transition of not only being jobless but that he was numbing himself with being busy.
Today, he has his own company and has very clear boundaries with his clients so he can not only spend time with his family but also pursue his passion for music.
So why are we surprised that the younger generation, who saw their parents dedication to their job result in loss, prioritizes life over work? Why are they not choosing to numb themselves with being busy?
We better start figuring this out since the facts are starting to catch up with us. It is projected that by 2020, about 75% of the world’s population will be under the age of 25. Another staggering fact is that 40% of the US workforce will be contingent workers. And where will most the talent come from? It won’t be the developed world. So we better learn how to work virtually and with people from other cultures around the world. And most importantly, we need to unlock the potential of the younger workers so they can have their life-work balance and have business succeed.
I will be writing more about why and how we need to unlock work as my own work is shifting to focus on organizational wellness; an area that I am truly passionate about and want to help others. And why I am off to NYC to participate in the first Wisdom 2.0 Business Conference, which I will also write about soon.
Rawn Shaw is also writing some great posts on why Work is Broken and Umair Haque shared Making the Choice Between Money and Meaning. My focus will be not only in sharing the challenges but also providing solutions that help us simplify work.