by Hayley Doyle
Have you ever had one of those easy days at work?
Oh, and when I say, easy, what I really mean is, boring.
Because last year, after the world had been picked up, shaken around and turned inside-out (thank you, Covid-19) the term, Quiet Quitting, became a workplace buzzword. The idea was for workers to take back control and put a stop to unnecessary burn-out, committing only to the bare minimum of responsibility required within their role. Early starts and working late became a no-no. Surely, less was more. It followed the Great Resignation and a desperate need to create balance, or, in other words, a better life. This movement became contagious, moving beyond the workplace, as people started to apply Quiet Quitting to their relationships.
However, something has always bothered me about the term. And it’s the quitting part. While making a decision to quit something that is bad for you can be a cause for celebration, the word itself feels laced with negativity. In the same way saying, ‘I give up’ sounds like a downward spiral, on initial reaction. Once 2023 made an appearance, the need to release ourselves from the shackles of the pandemic has become stronger than ever. We are welcoming all walks of positivity with open arms and are determined to live our best lives. Surprisingly, rejecting a hustle culture mentality hasn’t played a part in this. If anything, it’s had a negative impact on our mood. Quiet Quitting has resulted in demotivation and a lack of enthusiasm towards work and play. Although the intention might be to tell the establishment where to stick it, it’s actually backfiring.
So let’s make way for the new kid on the block; Quiet Thriving.
Yep. It’s Quiet Quitting’s antithesis. The superhero to the villain.
But what does it mean?
Well, it’s about taking back the power in a positive way. Reigniting the spark. Finding the inspiration you need to be excited about your job. Rather than diluting your tasks to a bare minimum, you enhance the tasks you enjoy. And let’s face it, you enjoy what you’re good at, right? So not only are you having a good time, but you’re…thriving! Without compromising your well-being, too. Coined by psychotherapist Lelsey Alderman in an article for The Washington Post, Quiet Thriving means actively making changes to your workday in order to shift your mental state and encourage you to feel more engaged at work. The same attitude can even be applied to relationships, too.
But why search for happiness in a role you’re currently miserable in?
Well, let’s be honest here. As much as the notion of standing up mid-meeting, scrunching up the papers in front of you and strutting out of the office (and perhaps letting your hair down as you grow five inches taller in self-respect) might have entered into your daydreams more often than you’d like to admit, in reality, it’s not always possible to just up and quit. Neuroscientist and success coach Laura Ellera believes that in the long run, 'just getting by’ will not be best for our mental health. She says, “We are built to thrive as human beings. We are naturally inquisitive. Just doing the bare minimum until something better comes along, deep down we feel that lack of purpose. We are nagged by that feeling that there’s got to be more to life than this.”
Even if you quit your job and change your path, there’s no guarantee of finding fulfilment. Over a decade ago, I left my job because I was miserable within the company. Staying put was becoming toxic so a change was necessary. But I made the drastic decision to start a new career, built upon some of my skills that seemed fit. I poured every hope into this being the Thing That I Do, except within six weeks, it was apparent that this was NOT the Thing That I Do at all. I was avoiding eye contact with co-workers as I made a cup of tea because I didn’t feel like engaging in conversation when usually, I’m the sort of person who gets into trouble for chatting too much. I got overexcited about the sandwich trolley doing its rounds because, to me, that was the most uplifting part of my day. And as sandwiches go, these were pretty rank. I was also exhausted. And from what? Well, the horrid sensation of demotivation. But around me, my colleagues were buzzy. Fiery. Full of bad jokes and birthday cake, or so it seemed. So I did the right thing, quit, and went back to my original line of work. I didn’t go back to my old company though. Instead, I set up my own. I created a work environment where I took everything I loved about my old job, and eliminated the parts I’d hated. I used my greatest passions and guiltiest pleasures to build a thriving company where, although I worked hard, I never felt like I was working. I was living. This was my life and I was here for it. Rather than watch the clock tick, desperate for the day to end, I would glance at the clock and think, gosh, that came around quickly. I was pumped. And I loved it.
Of course, certain roles - like running a company, for example - can make it extremely difficult to switch off. A few months ago, I facilitated one of my regular workshops which are usually very full-on, making a conscious decision to try something different; I simplified the course of the day, ensuring my clients were aware of this approach. The result was good. All paying customers are happy; they got exactly what they signed up for. However, I felt unfulfilled. To me, the day felt long, drawn out, and I struggled to care…and usually, I don’t just care, but I CARE. I’d been Quiet Quitting, hadn’t I? So for my next workshop, I went full-throttle Quiet Thriving. Jam-packed with all that I love about my job, including some high stakes and pressure, I made sure it was intense with all the right ingredients, removing the parts that didn’t serve the purpose well enough. As Laura Ellera also says, “We want to make a difference. We need to be appreciated. There is a drive to reach our full potential, whether we care to admit it to ourselves or not.”
If Quiet Thriving sounds like words you’re needing to hear right now, here are some tips on how to embrace the movement. Remember, we only get one life. So don’t wish it away. Thrive within as many moments as you can, even if it’s while you’re sitting at your desk…
Take Back Control
What parts of the job frustrate you? And which parts light you up? Where are you a good influence? And what is out of your control? Now, make a plan to structure your every day around the parts that light you up and the things you have influence over. Then, commit to working on letting go of the things you have no control over.
Find Your People
Connect with co-workers who rejuvenate you. Spend time with the people that make you feel safe. Find a Work BFF who you can have some fun with. Being around those who make us feel good can co-regulate our nervous systems because we’re relaxed within their company. This gives us energy, and oh hello, motivation! Steer clear of those who like to complain about their boss. You’ll never thrive in your career whilst moaning.
Shape Your Role Around You
Become the Go-To Person in your area of expertise. Of course, there are limitations to shaping your role and certain tasks are part and parcel of your job. But play to your strengths. Take action on something that’s important to you and fight the cause. Get serious about turning your role into something that suits both you and your employer. You will both feel fulfilled and you will feel more valued.
Take a Break
Split your day into chunks and enjoy some lovely scheduled breaks. When your mindset is all about pushing on and getting through a mass of work, you become less and less efficient. According to a study published in the Journal of Labor Economics, taking even 10 minutes to do something pleasurable can help you be more productive afterwards. So don’t allow your brain to wander. Embrace the breaks and you’ll embrace the work. It’s a win-win.