Surviving is a word commonly paired with work in modern-day conversation. Examples might include, "If I can only survive this workday," or "If I can only survive at this job long enough to see retirement." On a daily basis people work at jobs they do not enjoy, for less pay than they are worth, and with ongoing concerns about being fired, laid off or downsized. They work for bosses who are unpleasant, ineffective or even abusive in some cases, and yet they persist.
Why do they choose to continue on this path? They do so because they must, or so they believe. This belief system has given rise to "survivalnomics," which is a term you may be unfamiliar with, but it's a concept that you know all too well. It is a desperate economic reality that we all readily accept as the norm, whereby both employers and employees struggle to survive in a seemingly zero sum game of business. Both parties are in a perpetual state of fight or flight where both the boss and the employees struggle to survive in the business world. They believe they must fight, attack and constantly prove themselves in the workplace if they are to survive.
This belief triggers an automatic response that causes us to leave rational thinking behind. We numb ourselves in preparation for the next attack and the possible pain associated with it. We work in survival mode on some level, whether we are keenly aware of it in our conscious mind or not. The experience is hard on our body, mind and spirit, demonstrated by ailments such as high-blood pressure, depression and heart attacks -- and yet we persist.
However, now more than ever before, the concept of "work" is changing. We are dissecting it, and so are employers; there are serious consequences that are only just beginning to show themselves. The implications for the future of work are dire if you ask a committed cubicle dweller. However, for those with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to reclaim their career, a new priority is emerging -- happiness.
Happiness is the new currency for scores of people fed up with the status quo. Increasingly people are striking out on their own, freelancing, working location-independent and leading a more deliberate lifestyle in general. The power of time off, a concept that has long been heralded by and embedded into European cultures, is being re-prioritized and recognized as a valuable and necessary part of a thriving lifestyle.
This trend away from a lifestyle narrowly focused on work, toward one where quality of life is the dominant priority, marking the end of survivalnomics. Testimonials from people who have successfully made this fundamental shift away from the traditional 9-to-5 paradigm are surfacing in greater numbers, and the media is buzzing ever more loudly about lifestyle design topics. The American work force is reinventing itself. It's not surprising -- after all, we are a nation of innovators.
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