For many of my 35 or so years in the workforce, I prided myself on going the extra mile – like trying to put in a solid 8-hour day that sometimes stretched to 10 or 12 hours. And overall I felt good about doing it and earned some nice feedback from employers along the way.
But I’ll never forget the moment I “quietly quit” a job. It was not a pleasant experience.
By now, you’ve probably heard of silent shutdown. It’s a phrase that speaks to the idea of setting limits on work, if not doing the bare minimum. The idea is that we often work harder than we need to — and we pay the price in terms of our mental, if not physical, health.
Read more: What is silent shutdown? Employees set boundaries for a better work-life balance.
In my case, the idea of not giving it my all came about three decades ago, when I was in my late 20s and working in sales—a far cry from the career I was building as a writer and editor. But it was an opportunity suggested to me by a friend in the company. I was unsure if it would be the right fit – and dreaded the almost 90 minute commute to and from the office – but I honestly needed the money after the previous company I worked for had folded.
Once we got to work, I quickly realized two things. First, it was as bad a gig as I feared. Second, I could somehow stay busy without putting in so much effort.
““Even before ‘Seinfeld’ was a thing, I auditioned for the role of George Costanza, the character who made a career out of avoiding work.“
So I took two hour lunches and used every excuse I could find to leave early. Even before “Seinfeld” was made, I auditioned for the role of George Costanza, the character who made a career out of avoiding work. (Too bad I didn’t think of the sleeping nook Costanza had built under his desk.)
However, unlike George, I did not enjoy my idleness at work. If anything, I was the most miserable I have ever been at any point in my working life.
I understand that for some quiet quitters, it’s to affirm their need for work-life balance and avoid burnout. And I have little tolerance for employers who ask for more without providing proper compensation and respect for their employees’ lives outside the office.
Related: “The reaction to the silent resignation smacks of yet another attempt by the ruling class to bring workers back under their thumb: ‘Am I wrong?’
But I think what’s being overlooked here is that work can provide purpose. And that being in a job where you’re content to the point where you’re willing—indeed, eager—to go above and beyond the call of duty isn’t necessarily a bad thing, assuming you can reasonably fit it into your schedule.
Instead, spending your days thinking about how to do as little as possible at work because your position doesn’t matter or because you hold some beef against your company seems like a recipe for a life less than you’ve experienced. fully. Wouldn’t it make more sense to get a new job?
It turns out I’m not alone in thinking this way. I connected with several HR, finance and mental health professionals who spoke about the potential pitfalls of quietly quitting.
““Silent disruption does not happen in a vacuum.”“
Gena Cox, psychologist and executive coach, argues that calmly quitting smoking has its own mental toll—and, from the way she describes it, it’s perhaps even worse than feeling overwhelmed. “Staying in a disengaged state can contribute to burnout, stress and emotional distress. “It would be better to leave if things have gotten to the point where staying could cause psychological harm,” says Cox.
Andrew Latham, director of content at financial website SuperMoney, puts it more succinctly: “Life is too short to spend it in a job you hate, unless you’re completely out of options.”
There’s also a point experts say is often not made when it comes to silent smoking cessation: engaging in such behavior means you’re potentially damaging your long-term career prospects. If you have less to show for your current job, how can you explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the next one you might be looking for? Employers talk to each other and your past performance (or lack thereof) can get in your way.
As Rachel Kanarowski, a workplace consultant, says, “If the hiring manager knows someone in your current organization, they’ll likely contact you to ask more.” Or as Latham puts it, “Quiet disruption doesn’t happen in a vacuum.”
In my case, I eventually moved on to another job – and a much more fulfilling one – after my days of quietly resigning from the sales position. And I did enough work in my time at the sales job to win at least one big contract for the company, so maybe my employer didn’t have such bad things to say about me.
But I felt no satisfaction in my tenure – quite the opposite. Who wants to quit?