Work-life balance has been one of the rallying cries of the new workplace. But quiet quitting (reducing one’s job commitment to a bare minimum) won’t necessarily make your life any better. It might even work against you in your quest for a more fulfilling and purposeful career.
In fact, doing less might feel frustrating and make your work feel even less meaningful. Don’t accept the lack of engagement, commitment, or purpose in your work. Find ways to redefine your career by approaching quiet quitting as a transition to find a new opportunity and encourage growth.
We all need the inspiration to flourish and grow, and the only way to achieve this is to find purpose in what we do, improve with time, and take care of ourselves in the process.
What Is Quiet Quitting?
“Quiet quitting” is a viral trend that has sprung up across social media. According to the TikToker who first mentioned the term, “quiet quitting” means “You’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond. You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life.” In other words, you’re performing your basic tasks, but you’re not giving more than is asked on the job description. As intended, it’s a way of setting boundaries with your employer and prioritizing your emotional well-being over your job.
This trend has caused a series of debates. Some refer to “quiet quitting” as “the act of prioritizing your job and recognizing that you are more than what you do,” as an attempt to “treat burnout.”
Others, however, have objections, arguing that not doing much at work while still staying on payroll is “tantamount to stealing a paycheck,”and hurts coworkers who have to pick up the slack.
Taking a different position, Arianna Huffington from Thrive Global, says that: “quiet quitting isn’t just about quitting on a job, it’s a step toward quitting on life.”
The Great Resignation inspired record numbers of people to quit their jobs for better opportunities or to work for themselves. Quiet quitting is a mindset aimed at those who have stayed (unhappily) behind. The idea is to legitimize turning down tasks or assigments outside of their job descriptions. In a way, it could be viewed as “civil disobedience” against “hustle culture.”
Quiet Quitting Your Job is Not A Solution
Given the pace of work today, coupled with the economic uncertainties and volatility of the career marketplace, quiet quitting might look like a safe way to “fly below the radar.” You may have seen co-workers put in long hours and sacrifice their personal relationships or their health, only to be caught in a lay-off or targeted by a toxic manager. So it might seem like an understandable response to the uncertainties of the workplace (especially if more layoffs lie ahead in a potential recession…).
But quiet quitting is not an answer to the imbalances or injustices of the workplace. It’s actually, ironically, more of a downward spiral. It’s a surrender to the dysfunction you’re trying to escape or to circumvent.
While it might feel like a temporary fix – like taking a breather to collect your thoughts before taking action – you want to be careful not to let your quiet quitting become your work style. Remember that to find a new and hopefully better job, you’re eventually going to have to defend your record to a prospective hiring manager.
Inertia Is Not a Winning Strategy
Taking a defeatest attitude in your current position won’t make much of an impression on recruiters who are looking to fill positions with candidates who will be expected to perform in their new jobs. Making excuses or trying to explain why you chose to quiet quit will not help your case. Passivity and inertia may feel like justifiable responses to a bad work situation, but you won’t make it past the interview.
The longer you quiet quit, the more difficult it will be to find a way out. It’s like treading water in the ocean and expecting the current to magically push you towards the shore. It’s just as likely that it will push you farther out.
Inevitably, the end result of quiet quitting is career stagnation. So ask yourself: How is anything going to change by you turning inward?
You Have to “Grow to Go”
You can’t stay quiet or stuck in your position and hope for a miracle. But you could turn quiet quitting into a strategy if you simultaneously engage more proactively in personal and professional growth.
Remember the slogan “go to grow?” This is the strategy for seeking a new job to get the promotion you were waiting for but never got in your current one.
“Grow to go” is a corollary concept. It means you have to take charge of creating your value in your current job so that you’ll be able to find a better one. If you can demonstrate growth and change, prospective employers will take notice and offer you a position in recognition of the work you’ve done to improve.
Being proactive means there is always room to learn something new. So, regardless of your position, think ahead and gain new knowledge and expertise that will positively impact any role you’re likely to pursue in the future. Prioritizing inner growth on a professional level will ultimately lead to the external professional change you’re looking for.
Don’t get hung up on the outdated notion that meaningful work is about “finding your bliss.” Instead, consider finding your usefulness. Define the kind of work you can do where you’re making a real difference for clients or customers (or colleagues) and producing something people really need. You may find that your bliss actually appears as the result of finding your usefulness
Shift Your Commitment, Don’t Reduce It
In order to implement this approach, you want to use the time you’re not spending going “above and beyond” for your current job to go “above and beyond” for yourself. Shift your commitment to focusing on strategic activities that lead to the desired change you want.
As Arianna Huffington says, go for “joyful joining.” Give yourself the opportunity to find something that excites you, brings enthusiasm, and renews your passion. It’s OK to no longer believe in the work you’re currently doing if you use the opportunity to pivot and renew your commitment to something better and more fulfilling.
Find Your Purpose Every Day
Don’t retreat. Double down on your vision for a better future and a better position. Even if you’ve lost the thread of your purpose in your current position, start by looking at ways to recapture at least some sense of why you’re still there – and how you can transform your time there into something more meaningful.
For example, answer this question: whom do you serve? It could be your co-workers, yourself, or some aspect of the company’s mission that works for you (it’s not all bad, is it?). Figure this out: it’s your baseline for showing up. There is at least one reframe you can do to get out of the self-imposed quiet quitting cocoon you’ve wrapped around you.
Think More Critically
Consider these suggestions as ways of optimizing your quiet quitting experience and using it to position yourself for a more fulfilling role.
Use your time more efficiently.
Eliminate distractions. Remove apps from your phone that are simply rabbit holes that lead nowhere. Time block your calendar to perform your work tasks more compactly and all in one sequence. This way you will open up new blocks of uninterrupted time for you to grow and learn new skills.
Learn new things.
Immerse yourself in research about professional topics that interest you. Apply this knowledge to find the kind of work you would rather be doing. Get inspired by your growth and future areas of whe you could acquire greater expertise.
Some studies show that each time you get interrupted at work, it takes as much as 25 minutes to return to the concentration level you had before. Don’t let your disillusionment with work make you indifferent to the negative impact of distracting or counter-productive interruptions. If you’re truly going to use quiet quitting as an opportunity to renew yourself and grow, think how much time you could be wasting by giving in to interruptions.
Engage With Others
While you’re still in your job, identify and seek out co-workers whose experience may be insightful and instructive. Take advantage of their expertise and network with them to meet more like-minded people who could help you out. If you work in a big company, this might be a path to discovering other departments or roles that might be more compatible for you. You might conceivably reinvent your position within your company.
Reconnect with friends and colleagues you haven’t been in touch with. Find out what they’ve been up to and share your situation for their feedback and support (and possible connections to a better job).
And of course stay open to developing relationships and dialogue outside of your company. Optimize your LinkedIn profile to make sure you’re communicating an accurate picture of who you are to the world. Use the platform to connect with others who have more experience in the more fulfilling areas you want to pursue in your career.
Stimulate Your Imagination
If you’re feeling stuck, all of your creative faculties will start to shut down. This will only accelerate if you’re quiet quitting and creating a resistant “null field” around you at work. One way of reversing this decline is to challenge and change your routine to get more energized.
Even if it’s as basic as taking a different route to work, or flipping your schedule at home (e.g. eating breakfast for dinner), changing your habitual “loops” can spark new ideas and new ways of looking at your life and career.
Reactivate a hobby, start or revive a Pinterest board, start a journal, or take a class. Program your free time with more cultural and social activities.
Get out more. Get into conversations with active people who are engaged in activities that inspire and stimulate you. Changing your modus operandi can open new doors.
Use Quiet Quitting as an Incubator
Don’t get “resigned” to not resigning! If you’re not comfortable resigning, or you’re not currently able to find another job to move to, think of quiet quitting as a project, not an accommodation or a surrender.
Don’t allow quiet quitting to become an ongoing lifestyle or a career choice. It doesn’t serve you to quiet quit if it could lead to you getting loudly fired.
Be smart about this decision and use it as a strategy to get the job you want.
If you’re determined to reduce your job commitment to the minimum, be selective. Evaluate whether a given task or project could serve you in some way. Make sure that you’re not simply “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” and viewing everything about your job negatively.
Try reframing your feelings about a task to uncover some potential value for you in performing it or completing it.
Quiet quitting may be “quiet” but it doesn’t have to be “silent.” Let others know what you’re doing – and why, including managers, colleagues, friends, and family. Be firm about setting boundaries. But be reasonable. Identify the areas or the specific tasks that you will or won’t do – and why you’ve selected them as part of your quiet quitting strategy. Manage other people’s expectations so they can at least understand your POV (even if they don’t like it)!
Believe in yourself. Change takes time. Accept that you’re in your situation, but work every day to do something about changing it.
What’s your first step? Pick one self-honouring practice from this article and put it to work today. Which one is it? Let me know in the comments!
thought provoking because when I first learned of ‘quiet quitting’ I did not see one single positive aspect. If it is used to ‘grow to go,’ then I can be more understanding. In some cases the ones who are ‘quiet quitting’ are not yet ‘masters’ or subject matter experts (SMEs), and to my way of thinking ought to take the grow to go approach or as you very wisely point out, they may find themselves, ‘fired’ loudly. I am an employer and I recognize my employees won’t stay forever, but while they are here, I pay an honest pay for an honest day of work.
Thanks for your thoughts, Rosemarie! Yes, as you say, you would like to think that your employees are putting in an “honest” day’s work.
Unfortunately, my sense of the quiet quitting phenomenon is that it is inherently dishonest – or at the very least insincere or misguided. Others are calling it passive-aggressive, which may also be the case. So instead of confronting the employer with their complaints, or leaving for another position (at a time where the employee still has many options, especially as a knowledge worker), they stay, but hold back on their commitment.