Right now is the perfect time in history, especially for sensitive and empathic women. They can finally create much more freedom, flexibility in their work life.
So many women I work with are challenging the status quo. They have changed their priorities of what is important for them. They are envisioning what meaningful work looks like and what they are no longer willing to put up with.
In this article, I share my experience and research about the consequences of our “old” working models. I share ideas around the future of work and how you can start designing your work around your life and not the other way around.
It feels like a lifetime ago that we were caged in an office
I remember that time when I used to get up in the morning and put on formal clothes. I never would have dared to wear my yoga pants and sport shoes at work. Then I walked or drove to the office, spent all day mostly sitting in meetings and returned back home in the evening.
In-between there were some business trips too. For example, a whole week in China, which were amazing opportunities, but they also meant being “on” 24/7. I had to organize my life around my job and live close to the very remote head office. Otherwise I'd have to commute for hours from a place I would have preferred to live.
There was not much time to explore life outside of work, besides the weekend. I felt imprisoned by the number of working hours that were expected to succeed and advance in the corporate world.
For working parents, it is even more challenging to integrate all parts of life or if you add the hours of commuting back and forth to the office. Add on all of the daily pressures of life and work, and it's easy to see why we experience so much stress, mental health issues, alcohol and drug abuse, or a high divorce rate...
Retirement is not the dangling carrot anymore
I don’t want to wait for my retirement to enjoy my life. Knowing that my generation will work much longer than any generation before. I'd rather work less now and keep on working for as long as I can, to keep my sanity and health. Can you imagine retiring within 60 years and then doing nothing for another 20 to 30 years?
I mean playing golf or being on a cruise is nice, but come on! It sounds pretty boring to me. A lot of the senior executives I observed had such a bad lifestyle that I am not sure they will be able to enjoy their retirement anyway.
The ”old” way of working also puts a massive financial pressure on us. This is especially for women who do so much unpaid work. Data shows that across European OECD countries, pension payments to women aged 65 and over were 25% lower, on average, than for men. Differences are shockingly above 40% in Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The pandemic is accelerating the death of 9 to 5
My former company had already experienced remote working. It was a way of retaining talent and offering more flexibility back then. Home office was still treated as an exclusive benefit for only a limited amount and group of employees.
Now, after 2 years of forced remote work, the massive transformation of how we work has accelerated. From what I experience in Portugal in the digital nomad community and with my corporate and private clients, this is only the beginning. The New York Times reports that the 9 to 5 work model is the next pillar of work to fall.
There are remote, hybrid, flexible and staggered hours. There is job sharing, four-day work weeks, five-hour days and hot desks. So many other initiatives are already being tried out by companies worldwide.
Control over your own life is the new parameter of success
Since I started to work as a “solopreneur”, I am thinking much less about how much I am working. It's much more about quality and where I can make the biggest impact.
I usually work around max 30 hours per week. I use the first hours of the day for myself and I integrate walks during my day. I have time to see my friends for breakfast, to workout, to try new hobbies and to take part in courses for my own development during the week.
Is it more impressive if you hustle 80 hours per week, or if you can say 'I am able to bring results in much less time'?
I feel much more in control of my life. I don’t have to live next to a big company anymore, which is mostly in expensive, crowded cities. I can work with my clients online from all over the world. I am aware that this is a discussion based on the privileges of my generation and the possibilities of technology that will accelerate over the next decades.
Changing the way you think about work-life-balance
During my heart@work coaching sessions with my clients, we often talk about how they identify less and less with their careers. It just doesn’t define their human worth anymore. I understand that not everyone is ready for this. The pandemic has been in many ways so confronting too. For the first time you might have been forced and had the time to think “What do I want to do for myself?’”
Some people associate my work with a better “work-life balance”. I never liked this term. The truth is that work and life are on the same side, so they don’t need to be balanced. Everything is connected and interdependent in your life. Beginning with your state of being. If you have purpose and can bring your whole self to work, whether in-person or remote, you don't have to choose between success in our work and success in other parts of our lives.
The future of work - the Lying Flat Movement
During a very interesting podcast of Tim Ferris, interviewing Jane McGonigal, a future-forecaster about “How to become the expert of your own future”, they share very interesting trends of The Great Resignation and the Lying Flat Movement in China. The Great Resignation started in the U.S., where workers have been quitting their jobs in record numbers since 2020. The Future Forum report published that this trend is extending to Europe, too. In January 2022, 53% of workers in France and 55% in Germany and Japan are open to looking for new jobs this year.
The Lying Flat Movement started in China with the younger generation quitting the hamster wheel, spawning a movement known as “lie flat”. Its adherents are tired of the stress that comes from working long hours. They are over the family and societal pressure to keep climbing the ladder. This will impact the way we live, how we define work, changing our entire society and the economy.
Imagine that more and more young people will not opt for a full-time job anymore. They will spend less money and focus more on their mental health, sustainable living or personal development.
I would like to close the future scenarios of working by asking you to turn the next question around:
“How can I arrange my life around work?” to “How do I want to live and so what kind of work would fit my life?
Reflect and write your personal answers to the following questions down:
Is the way you are currently working and earning your income aligned with what feels authentic, true, expansive and freeing for you?
Connect with your heart for a moment and ask yourself: What would a coherent, truthful form of work look like for you?
If there were no limiting factors at all, what would your working life look like? What kind of work would you do? How many hours a day/week?
During the heart@work coaching journey, you will receive support to answer the questions above for yourself.
You will gain the confidence and courage to create a freeing and energizing work life that aligns with your values and superpowers as an empath. Click here to book a call with me and find out if the heart@work coaching journey is for you.
The New York Times: The 9-to-5 Schedule Should Be the Next Pillar of Work to Fall, 2022: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/17/opinion/work-flexibility-hours.html
Fortune: It’s time to replace work-life balance with ‘life-work integration’, 2022 : https://fortune.com/2022/01/24/great-resignation-life-work-integration-thrive-global/
Tim Ferris Podcast: Jane McGonigal — How She Predicted COVID in 2010, Becoming the Expert of Your Own Future, Trust Warfare, the 10-Year Winter, and How to Cultivate Optimism (#579): https://tim.blog/2022/03/16/jane-mcgonigal-imaginable/
WorkLife with Adam Grant Podcast: The Not-So-Great Resignation, 2022: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0fEso0Ml3I
Bloomberg News: Why Some Chinese Are ‘Lying Flat’ and What That Means, 2022: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-10/why-some-chinese-are-lying-flat-and-what-it-means-quicktake