Have you been thinking of quiet quitting your job? Then this blog is for you! In this blog, I’ll share how quiet quitting can actually backfire and bite you in the foot, and why you should take a silent sabbatical instead.
BUT… before I go on, make sure you watch this video on quiet quitting that I posted about two weeks ago. I’m sharing some things in that video that are important for this blog.
Cool, read on…! Or, if you prefer to watch, click the video below.
First off, who am I to tell you about quiet quitting?
Well, over the years, I’ve helped hundreds of corporate professionals change careers, and a lot of them had actually quietly quit. I’ve changed careers myself as well, and I’ve also used quiet quitting as a strategy. What I’m about to share with you is not just based on my own experience, but also the experience of all those people that I have helped change careers.
The first thing I want to say, or the first thing I want to share, is that I really believe that quiet quitting is not desirable. Going to work or doing a job that you loathe, that you really do not like, is taxing. It’s exhausting. Quiet quitting won’t change that. It changes how you show up at work, but it doesn’t change how you feel about your work or the job that you do deep down inside. You won’t go to work, all of a sudden, feeling good about it, relaxed, or happy. No, that heaviness, that negativity is still there.
In all those years I’ve helped people change careers, I’ve seen the same thing happening over and over again.
As soon as someone quietly quits – or, in other words: as soon as someone disengages or emotionally disconnects from work – their situation gets worse and worse. Quiet quitting is slippery slope to misery.
Not over a matter of days, or the course of weeks, but it’s usually over a matter of course of months.
Quiet quitting initially feels good.
I’ve experienced this myself as well, and I’ve seen it with all those other people. It feels good not to care anymore and think “Fine, I’ll just show up, do what I need to do, not get in trouble, but then that’s it.”
The problem? That good feeling never lasts.
Usually this turns into a vicious circle, a downward spiral, where your situation starts to get worse and worse. You dread going to work more and more, and your resentment towards work starts to grow. It often results in burnout and exhaustion.
In the short term quiet quitting can offer a respite, but in the longer term, it’s unlikely do any good for you.
Quiet quitting is often a way to try to cope with a toxic environment or with a job that no longer feels right for you, but you feel like you don’t have the option to quit. It’s an understandable response to a tough or difficult situation.
There’s absolutely no shame if you’ve quietly quit, or if you want to quietly quit. It’s just not a sustainable or healthy strategy for the long term.
So, what’s the alternative?
Well, you have two options. ONE: find another job, or, TWO, take a silent sabbatical.
If you are in a toxic work environment, I feel you. It’s rough and no one is deserving of that.
If you find yourself in a toxic work environment, then please, I urge you: do whatever you can to get out.
I know that’s not always easy, but you owe it to yourself, your relationships, your health, and your sanity to figure out how you can move on from that situation.
You don’t need to find your dream job. Take that pressure off! Don’t try to find the perfect job when you’re in a toxic work environment, the goal is just to get out.
Look for a good enough job or a bridge job. A good enough job is a job that’s by no means your dream job, but it’s good enough in a sense that it meets a certain need without having to make important sacrifices. If you want to know more about good enough jobs, then I recommend to watch this video in which I talk about good enough jobs in more detail.
The other type of job, a bridge job, is a temporary job. It isn’t something that you would like to progress in, in the sense that you don’t see a future in it, but it helps you to make ends meet or to earn some money whilst you figure out your next steps. Good examples of bridge jobs are jobs in retail or hospitality.
I did that when I changed careers myself and it was really great, because I could just go there, earn money, do my thing, and then work on building my business on the side.
The other thing you can do is take a silent sabbatical.
What is a silent sabbatical?
A silent sabbatical is a period in which you actively pursue a personal or professional interest outside of work, without actually leaving your job.
Great examples of things that you can pursue outside of work are things like writing a novel, doing volunteering work, starting a passion project, or elevating a side project. It could be training for a fitness or physical event, it could be traveling over weekends or holidays that you might have, it could be learning a new skill, spending time with your family, spending more time with yourself.
There’s a huge difference between quiet quitting and a silent sabbatical.
The energy and intention behind it are vastly different.
With quiet quitting, you disengage and you stop caring, but with a silent sabbatical, you still care, you just deprioritize your work, so you can focus more on other things outside of work.
With quiet quitting, you do the least possible to not get into trouble, to not get fired, but with a silent sabbatical, you still care about delivering good work.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is that quiet quitting is an escape, you are moving away from something, from your job or your career that you are dissatisfied with. Whereas with a silent sabbatical, that is a bridge, you are moving towards something, something that interests you, something that matters to you.
Another big difference between quiet quitting and a silent sabbatical is that you take a silent sabbatical for a specific period of time. Let’s say three months, six months, or even nine months, in which you consciously and deliberately defocus on work, and shift your intention onto something else that’s important to you and of meaning to you. During that time, you don’t chase the next promotion, you don’t go above and beyond at work, you don’t give work your all. You keep some energy, you reserve some energy to be able to spend on other things outside of work.
A silent sabbatical can give you an increased clarity on the direction that you might want to move in next, after your silent sabbaticals over.
It can give you inspiration on the direction that you want to move in, or things that you might want to do in your career or outside of your career, once the silence sabbatical is over.
It can also help you to understand better what’s currently working or not working in your job or in your career, and it can even give you a newfound enthusiasm, an energy for the work that you are doing.
At the end of your silence sabbatical, you might go back fully engaged to the job that you’re doing, but with new skills, new experience, new insight to, either move your career forward in the same direction, or perhaps in another direction, or you might leave your job. You’re able to do that because you’ve used that time outside of work to build new skills, to build up experience, and to learn new things so you can then transition into something else. T
How do you take a silent sabbatical?
A silent sabbatical is not something that you typically communicate with your employer.
Don’t walk over to your boss and say “Hey, boss. I’m going to defocus on work for the next three to six months. Just so you know. I’ll be focusing on other things outside of work.” That’s probably not the wisest thing to do.
There are a few things that you can and should do to make sure that your silent sabbatical becomes a success. Here are a few things.
1. If you can work from home one to two days a week, great. Take that opportunity and do it, because when you’re working from home, you can more easily spend that time on other things without someone looking over your shoulder and seeing what you’re doing. Obviously, as I said with silent sabbatical, you still care about delivering good work, but you are more flexible in how you spend your day when you are working from home.
2. Put up your boundaries, which could mean that you leave work at the same time every day. You commit to doing that. Whether that’s 5:00 PM, 6:00 PM, 7:00 PM, whatever time works for you in the industry that you are in, choose that time that you’re going to leave, and then when it comes, leave.
3. Come in an hour earlier, leave an hour earlier.
4. Use your lunch break intentionally. What that means is that you take 45 minutes to an hour for your lunch and you use that time to do whatever it is that you want to do outside of work. That could be writing that novel, working on your passion project or side project, training for that physical or fitness event.
5. Use your public holidays intentionally. When you have a public holiday, us it to focus on your professional or personal pursuit.
6. Use your annual leave wisely (ideally, around public holidays!). If you have a public holiday coming up on a Wednesday, then use your holidays, your annual leave, on Thursday and Friday, so you have that whole nice chunk of time off to dedicate and focus on your professional or personal pursuit.
7. Get focused and intentional about how you spend your day. Perhaps that might mean socializing a little bit less at work, so you can be more efficient and productive for the time that you are there.
8. Renegotiate your hours. For example, instead of working five days a week at eight hours a day, perhaps you could work four days a week at 10 hours a day.
9. Sneak out for one hour during a day and engage in your professional or personal pursuit during that hour.
10. Plan your work. What that means is that you do the things that are most important and most time pressing first thing in the morning when you get in, so you don’t risk having to do them at the end of the day, when you’re about to leave and then risking not being able to leave at the time that you set you’d leave.
These are just some thoughts and ideas, but obviously, you can get very creative about how you set up your silent sabbatical. If you have some great ideas, then please pop them into comments so other people can benefit from it as well.