You know that feeling?
You thought that – after years of practising – you are a downshifter down to the last bone.
You did your budgets, killed off any unnecessary spending. You internalized the idea of time and social ties being the most valuable ingredient in life instead of money or luxury. You are able to enjoy the simple things, you learned how to walk through a department store without being attracted by all the fancy superfluous stuff there in the slightest bit. You can enjoy a camp holiday as much as a holiday in a 5* spa hotel. You even learned to accept the strange material needs of others without any envy. And so forth.
In one sentence:
You thought you made it! Break out of the worlds material preoccupation and exit the never-ending rat-race.
But – as Woodpecker – you are still working in a job. However, you are far from stupidly slaving away, you leave when all work is done and do not wait until the boss is finally leaving. You are efficient, you don’t waste your time with politics and all the unnecessary stuff that is done in offices. Thus, while your hours at office might be much shorter, your actual output and benefit to the company is the same or even higher as most colleagues. And you care for that, because you know it is important as a downshifter to do a good job – as envy for your freedom might hit you from the fearful slave-workers at any time.
And then, from time to time, this supposedly quelled unrest is stirring again:
The unrest that people much more stupid and much less able than you are telling you what to do.
The question whether, downshifting or not, you should sacrifice more to finally make a bit of a “career”.
|Because, whatever “modern” companies will tell you that you can have it both – career as well as family&abundand private live – in the end it is not true.Most of them want you to sacrifice, to make a decision. Pro career, or pro your extensive private life.
In most companies and with most bosses, months and months of parental leave, part-time, home-office, early leave to go to the lake, sailing or whatever, prolonged holidays etc. are (even if unpaid!!) not compatible with a career, no matter what your actual performance and output is. Companies are not that modern yet – at least not in Germany.
In other words, from time to time, you feel secretly tempted:
Shall I do a few more spins in the treadmill? Only a few spins to get this promotion. And afterwards I really stop it and will be happy on an even higher level…
Well, Statistics and Research are quite clear here:
We should not sacrifice any happiness we already have for a promotion. In fact we should carefully consider if we want to be promoted at all.
This is the clear result of this long-term empirical study done on the effect of promotion (in the sense of higher level in the hierarchy) on happiness and health.
What they did is basically check for the change in health (split into physical and mental health – where a good mental health is basically defined as the absence of fear, tension and anxiety) and for the change in happiness/life satisfaction as a result of promotions. And they checked for the time-line as well, i.e. what was the effect six months, one year, two years, three years after the promotion.
And, guess what?
While a promotion does boost short-term happiness and even short-term health (both physical and mental), the effect wears off after about 1-2 years, a pattern so often seen in happiness economics.
Even the components “fairness of my pay” , “felt job security”, “freedom to define my work” (things people typically associate with a promotion) do go back to start after a short boost of one year. In other words, only a year or so after your promotion you will again feel as much or less trapped, restricted, insecure and unfair paid as prior to your promotion.
|Or, as a recently very highly promoted friend of Woodpecker said quite wisely over a beer last week: “In the end, I am still squeezed in the same sandwich. I am merely two layers higher, but pressure is the same from above and below and there are always layers over you.”|
It is astonishing:
All happiness indicators, feeling-of-control-indicators, fun-in-work-indicators and physical health indicators come back, most already within 6-12 months, some after a maximum of three years.
But it gets even worse:
The only indicators that are not coming down are:
- Increased working hours
- Decreased level of mental health, i.e. increase in tension, stress, anxiety.
Of all things just these indicators stay increased. And this is probably not what people expected from their promotion, isn’t it?
The effects above might even help to explain the basic mechanics of the job-rat-race:
As a promotion does give you a boost in happiness on the short run, but does actually punish you on the long run, it acts exactly similar to a drug.
Once the effect wears off, you will remember the good feeling immediately after taking it and you will need another shot.
Thus people are typically not able to do only “a few spins in the treadmill”, but once entered, they stay in there and tread and tread until the very end.
Question now is:
Is it a good idea to enter the mill in the first place? Should you really want more status? Or do you try to stay where you are and merely fight for more money to finance your downshifter’s lifestyle?
I leave it to you 😉