Employers in nearly every industry have cut payrolls. As of the end of 2009, a whopping 11.1 million Americans were reported to be unemployed. The situation for the past 18+ months has been as bleak as many of us have ever seen. You’d think it would add up to everyone deferring consideration of a career change, right? But that’s not the case.
According to recent data from the Center for Work-Life Policy, lots of folks are considering voluntary career changes and women are doing it at more than twice the pace of men. The Center’s data shows that twice as many women in top jobs (54%) as men (22%) are contemplating voluntarily leaving their positions. The Center’s data show that the majority of these women are leaving in order to recalibrate goals and shift to other sectors.
It seems that in this recession women in particular are taking a long hard look at what they value most and what they’re willing to endure in the workplace for a paycheck. Does a high salary offset a workplace with high time commitments, high stress, and low morale? It seems that many are answering that question “no” after years of being unable to create and/or sustain a satisfying work/life balance.
Study after study shows that women in particular want not only to be paid a fair wage, but also to do work that is meaningful to them; when this is missing, the money often doesn’t matter to them. According to Center for Work-Life Policy data, among women who are considering leaving jobs in the financial sector, a shift to the nonprofit sector is high on the wish list of many.
Life is short to be sure and we spend a lot of time at work. (As of 2007, the average American spent 8.7 hours a day working according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.) If your work is not aligned with your core values or isn’t making you happy, the situation simply isn’t sustainable in this economy or any other. Figuring out what you value most and pursuing it is time well spent; it can yield a lifetime of purpose and meaning. And, regardless of the state of the economy, if you set your intention to it, it is well within your power to create a worklife that provides you meaning and satisfaction.
So as you think about your future, I leave you with the question I pondered in 2008 as I was contemplating whether to start this business. At that time, the recession was just heating up and no one in their right mind would have started a new business. At that time, the question that kept coming up for me was this: “If not now, when?” Can you answer that one? If now is not the time to infuse your worklife with more meaning, when?
P.S. I have no regret. My work is filled with meaning and purpose. I have more work/life balance than ever before.
January 6, 2010