By now you have probably heard of The Great Resignation, also called The Big Quit. How does it affect you and your career?
After millions of people lost their jobs at the start of the Covid pandemic, a lot of workers felt they had no choice but to hold on to their positions, even when they did not like them. Other stresses, however, piled up, whether for parents suddenly unable to send their children to school, or for those who fell sick, lost loved ones, or suffered from an increase in isolation.
We already know that even during normal times a large number of employees are dissatisfied at work: as the Covid vaccine brought some hope that the pandemic could come to an end and governments began to relax regulations, workers began to quit their jobs in record numbers (this chart can give you a good idea of this trend throughout the years).
But The Great Resignation is not just about quitting your job: it is estimated that about 40% of global workers are considering changing jobs or professions in 2021. The Great Resignation is a global phenomenon, not just an American trend.
I have been working with career changers since 2017 and was deep into the topic for many years prior to that. It’s great to see more attention to the meaning of work and changing careers hit the mainstream. But this moment in time is also being used as a marketing opportunity to create a sense of urgency around making big life choices.
And a lot is changing: how can you navigate this moment in a way that makes sense to you, your career, your family, and your life?
How does the Great Resignation affect your desire to change careers or get another job? How does it affect your own work and/or relationship to work? And what can you do now to create a life you love?
Here are some things to consider about The Great Resignation and you.
There is power in numbers
With a majority of executives worried about high turnover, and online conversations focused on work-life balance, the meaning of life, and the future of work, the Great Resignation can be a great time to negotiate benefits, look for a better paying job, or bring about change in your workplace.
Depending on the industry, this could also be a great time to change careers. If you are looking to learn something new, more and more content is available online and professions are shifting. Some companies might feel more open to newcomers, and with many workers forced into unemployment because of Covid and/or choosing to transition to something new during the past 18 months, there can be more understanding and appreciation for those who are taking the leap into something new or have a gap in their resume.
A lot depends on your industry
The problem with global or large scale statistics is that they are not necessarily relevant to what is going on in your city or industry. If you are a restaurant worker, your situation is very different from that of a K-12 teacher; if you work in healthcare, your level of stress is on a different level from that of someone whose high tech position essentially did not change during Covid except for working remotely.
Some people kept making good money during the past 18 months or saw their income significantly increase while their expenses went down, some are now dealing with financial losses.
Spend some time understanding what is happening in your specific field and location - do not give too much weight to global data alone - and tune into what works for you, without judging yourself for whatever comes up.
Marketing ruins everything
Well, at least a certain kind of marketing. Making big life decisions such as choosing when to quit your job or change careers is not the same as learning how to write an effective resume. Choosing what career to pursue requires (re)connecting with your deepest wisdom and awareness, along with an understanding of the professions and industries you are exploring.
Over the years, my coaching has become more and more transformational: while I always believed in each individual’s capacity to (re)connect with their own inner knowing, as a coach I saw that that reconnection is sometimes the only thing clients need.
When you find that place within you that knows what you truly want, all sorts of things become clear.
If you feel bombarded by Facebook ads and other content encouraging you to change your life now, do not fall for it - keep yourself grounded in your experience and wisdom.
Marketing is marketing - it is designed to tap into your desires and insecurities in order to make you feel that unless you do something specific you will not be OK. That’s almost always untrue or grossly exaggerated.
Any serious professional will not put pressure on you, especially not by using current events, to push you into a direction that they think is best for you.
Knowing yourSelf vs. Peer Pressure
Making big changes because everyone else is doing it too is also a terrible strategy: understanding the current moment so you can do what is best for you and your life, is a much better way to go about changing careers. I have worked with clients who quit jobs when everyone else was holding on tight to theirs - and felt relieved and inspired even facing great risk. And I have clients who chose to hold on to their full time position for a long time while creating their next opportunity. And it worked very well for them too.
There is a part of us that’s wired to do what other people do and it is not our wisest Self. Comparison and imitation are rarely as helpful as they seem.
Instead, have no preference as to whether you have the same timing as others, or a different one. That is irrelevant to your happiness. Learn instead to listen to your own deepest Self. The single most important thing you can do to live a life you love is to drop behind your conditioning to rediscover your own innate capacity for wellbeing and wisdom.
If you are feeling a lot of anxiety or you are unsure about what to do next, forcing yourself to make a decision is rarely the right move. Instead, take The Great Resignation as an invitation to deepen your own relationship to your Self, explore new ideas, and open yourself up to the world. The answer to what to do next (and when) will come.
Go for real change
Many companies are reacting to the Great Resignation by taking superficial steps to accommodate employees (and some are not even doing that).
The reason why employees have been unhappy for decades at work is rarely something that requires a quick fix: problems at work usually stem from the absence of empathy, a culture of power and fear, lack of transparency and absence of genuine acceptance, etc.
Here’s an example of a change that can be extremely beneficial, or just superficial: being able to work from home part of the time. For some of you, that might make a huge difference: the team is great, you like your job, and now you even get to save time and money on commuting!
But if a team lacks trust or leaders have a tendency to micromanage, less in-person interactions might not be much help at all. So suddenly being able to work from home might eliminate commuting, but it might also exacerbate already-existing problems.
So whether you are a leader thinking about how to create a good workplace, or a job seeker looking for a new position, focus on substance and tune into what really matters, not just superficial fixes. Look for real change - change that goes to the core of what was not working, and that elevates the entire organization.
This is also super important as a career changer. One of the first things I check in with new clients is whether they want a new career or a new job. Sometimes you can get very discouraged and insecure at a specific workplace and then start feeling like your entire career doesn’t work. But that could be the equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bath water: sometimes it is your work environment that is the problem and you do not need to change careers at all! A new boss will do.
So go deeper: look for what matters, ask questions whose answers are important to you, and calibrate on empathy, humanity, goodness, and authenticity. Look for substance.
It’s your timing
Each one of us unfolds at their own time. Sometimes this means you blossom in ways that are aligned with society’s expectations: e.g. you go to college after high school, you graduate while still in your early twenties, by your thirties you are doing much better in your career, etc.
Sometimes things unfold at a time that is not what you were taught to expect, but it ends up being the right time for you: you might find your soulmate in your late forties after healing from previous trauma, you might discover a new career in your fifties, you might choose not to go to college at all…
Whether this is the right time for you to find a new job or a new career, the right time is your right time: do not judge it or force it. Tune in and flow with it.
There are few secrets to living a good life. When you find that place within yourself that is already always filled with joy, changing your circumstances becomes something to be excited about, to play with- if you want to do it. Pressure decreases, and the power to make things happen increases.
Whether the Great Resignation turns out to be the right time for you to quit, speak up, change careers, or relax in your current situation, you can go through this time feeling calm, tuned in, and open to possibilities.
In a year or two, when looking back at this moment in your life, what would you like to see?