Today I stumbled across a YouTube video that I found interesting. It was talking about how, as unofficially part of the Great Resignation (which I think the GR is also pretty much unofficial as well), another trend has been occurring lately. This is, a great slow down, or what they are calling the “quiet quitting.”
It struck me because I actually made this choice myself about 3 years ago, right after I had a heart attack. Now I can’t contribute the heart attack to anything other than a life-long poor Western diet and maybe some genetic abnormalities, but my heart attack was the third one at my company and there was actually another one about a year after mine.
So, I think it could be safe to say that my job had some built in stress to it. Actually, it was all artificial (in my opinion) but that will have to keep for another article.
Suffice it to say, I needed to make some changes in my lifestyle and I chose to make those changes at work with a massive slow down and removal of literally all work related stress.
So, let’s jump in and see what all this talk about quiet quitting is all about….
What Is Quiet Quitting or the Coasting Culture?
Bottom line, it is no longer equating your personal identity with your employment. It is allocating only enough mental or physical attention to your position to keep your employment. That means no more working extra weekends or skipping lunch or breaks because it’s busy, or trying to climb the proverbial career ladder.
Back when I did it it really didn’t have a name yet. I do remember when I was first hired six years ago, telling my coworker that I thought the perfect job would be working only 2 days a week and preferably on the weekends. She thought I was crazy. But, after my heart attack, I made the choice to ask for a layoff. I was tired. I was trying to recover from the medical event itself. I was also fighting with the government, trying to get them to keep their promises to provide health care to me for free from the VA (they did not).
But, the director of the company asked me, “What will you do?” I said, “Most likely find a part-time job somewhere working just the weekends.”
That was it. The next thing I know the director added a part-time position for my department and I was working part-time and loving it. I was even able to keep my current wage at the time (which has even gone up after a few annual pay raises).
Aren’t You Just Being Lazy?
I completely disagree. In the new economy where employers treat their employees more like robots or beasts of burden, I think it’s time for employees to let their companies lead by example. No more company loyalty, then employees really should consider themselves contract, temporary workers because that’s what they really are. Personally, I don’t skimp on the work I do. I don’t sit around and not get my work done. But, what I do instead of trying to kill myself by working 40, 50, or even 60 hours a week for a company that would have no qualms replacing me in a second if they saw a need to or could save money, I work for myself. I make sure I take all my breaks. I make sure I take my entire lunch. I do not feel guilty if/when I feel like calling in sick and using my sick time. I also do not factor in what’s happening at work when I schedule my vacations (I actually don’t do either of these because working only 2 days a week my stress level is non-existent and every week is like a mini vacation).
Additionally, I no longer have the career mentality that I used to. I’m not thinking about “getting ahead” or competing for a promotion. Instead, I consider this a kind of semi-retirement, where the individual either goes part time at their current company or they take a pay cut to work somewhere part-time that is much more flexible and better for your overall well-being.
What About Retirement? Kids’ Tuition?
There are, indeed, some calculations you need to consider before jumping ship on your career trajectory. One of the most important considerations is the opportunity cost this idea will demand from you. I personally left two thirds of my income on the table going part-time. And I can hear you screaming at me already. There’s no way a person can live on 2/3rd of what they were making.
Well, that’s actually not true. I actually talk a lot about it on this blog, how I read Walden many years ago and a concept from that book really stuck with me over the years and was reinforced by Your Money or Your Life and it bears repeating, “It is better to learn to live without something that try and figure out a way to afford it.”
Because of this adage and the principles in YMOYL, I have lived on a college student’s budget for most of my adult life. Even when I was married with several kids. That means that of that 1/3 income left that I now make each month, only half of it covers my entire monthly expenses. This means, not only am I able to work only 2 days a week (having five days a week off each and every week – I can’t even remember what it’s like working 5 days a week and I really doubt I would be able to take it back up again), but half of my current income goes into savings each month, or I use it to travel on my mini-vacations (such as to Las Vegas, or Hawaii, or Miami, or even just a few hours away to get a hotel along the coast in the winter to watch the storms come in). So each year of part-time, minimal work produces not only my entire annual budget that I need to live on (in quite a bit of relative comfort I might add), but I also save a year’s worth of income in the bank each year.
As to college for kids. Thankfully I do not have any children of my own. But, even if I did, I’m not certain I would be encouraging them to go to college in the first place, given the relative worthlessness of a college degree. I think I would encourage them, if they wanted to go to college, to get really good grades and get scholarships, or to pick a career that is in high demand and cannot be replaced by automation, like a plumber or a carpenter. I would also instill in them the Thoreau doctrine and the idea of minimalism that has enabled me to live the life of my dreams.
Personally, I think it’s better just to not have any kids. This world is a cesspool. Why bring a child into that in the first place?
Again, What About Retirement?
The old adage is, “If a man does for his profession what he is passionate about, he never works a day in his entire life.” This may be true theoretically, and it certainly sounds good. But the reality is a little starker than what we might assume at first glance.
First of all, the entire concept of working for 40 years and then retiring when you’re in your 70’s to live a life of golfing and 5pm dinners may sound good for you but it does not for me. In fact, I think it’s silly to give away the best years of my life to a company or to a job and then give myself in retirement what’s left over when I’m most likely sick, can’t get around like I used to, and could and often do die at any minute.
I think it’s a much better idea to give the 40 years to myself and then – hey – why not give myself the remaining years as well. I’m able to do this because of a few choices I made in my youth. 1. I sold my soul to indentured servitude to the US Government when I was 17 (lets just assume here that the American Government is not an institution of liars and thieves as it actually is, but that they are fulfilling their promise to provide me free healthcare for the remainder of my life). Because of this choice, I have free healthcare (theoretically) for the rest of my life. 2. Because of the Thoreau principle I quoted earlier, my retirement at 62 can actually be fully funded by social security, even at their projected 25% shortfall reduction they are predicting. Because of my minuscule expenditure needs, I can not only fund an endless summer for the next 20 years (with my part-time job), but I can theoretically do that job well into my 50’s, 60’s, and possibly into my 70’s. But, who would even need to? At my 50% savings rate each year, at the end of 20 years (I would be 67 (the age I qualify for full social security retirement and not the reduced amount), I would have saved $120,000. This is without investing that amount anywhere, just stuffing it in my mattress every month (I don’t actually do that so calm down).
So even if the government fails yet again to keep their promises to the people they serve (no they wouldn’t do that), and social security goes completely bust before I can draw out a dine, by the time I’m 67, I would have 120,000 to live off of for the rest of my life. Save I have another 30 years left (I surely hope the hell not, I would be 97), that would come to $333 a month. A more realistic number for life expectancy would be 20 more years landing at 87 (I’m sure cancer or another heart attack or a cougar or a meteorite lighting the entire world on fire will take care of me much sooner than this). This would provide $500 / month which is still more than I need to live on each month currently. If I can achieve some important location goals in the next few years, I will be able to live on about $250 / month going forward, which will only increase my monthly savings, and reduce my requirement for retirement savings or extend their use in the future. And, all of this is predicated on Social Security going bankrupt. If it remains in place, even if it is overhauled and produces only 75% of what I’m slated to now get, I will be swimming in money when I’m 62.
Yes, my retirement will consist of a simple, boring life of a pensioner. I will not be able to travel. I will not be able to dine in at the finer establishments on the easter seaboard. But, first, who wants to do either? Plus, I will have gotten (or had at least the opportunity to do so) that out of my system years before in my mid 40’s and early 50’s when I was only working 2 days a week and traveling on my 5 day weekends. What about big trips, you say? Well, I accrued about 100 hours of vacation time before I went part-time. It is just sitting on my books and can be used at any time. I simply pull 16 hours and I suddenly have 12 days free to travel the world. I can go to Vietnam. I can venture to Canada. I can go south and spent 10 days in Cancun. Or even fly to Japan for some sushi (I don’t actually eat sushi).
Really, there is no downside, unless you perceive not having the things your neighbors or co-workers have as a negative or a slight to your character. I have a co-worker who recently spent over $20,000 on an off road vehicle that he appears to use maybe once a month on the weekends (because he’s working 5 days a week). I also live by a major highway and every weekend I see billions of dollars flow through in recreational vehicles heading to the beach – campers and fifth wheels and off roaders – the majority of which are financed and sit in their owner’s driveway 50 weeks out of the year because they have to work 50-60 hours a week most of the year just to afford their lifestyle.
My plan seems to be much better. At least for me.
You’re Never Going to Buy a House This Way
Actually, this is simply not true. I’ve actually purchased two houses in my life, and three properties, totalling $227,000. The first house was purchased for $150,000 when I was married and working a 9-5. We sold that just before my wife and I split up and netted a whopping $1000 from it (we sold it to family just to get out of the payment).
After my divorce, I took over a business for about 6 years and made some okay money for a few years (this is relative of course). I chose to sink my extra money into real estate at that time, not as an investment to sell later but in the location that I wanted to ultimately retire to one day. I bought right after the 2008 recession hit this area so I was able to buy at rock bottom prices and I purchased a very small house that needed some major repairs. I did the work myself (with the help of family knowhow) and I spent 2 years making $1500 payments on the house until it was paid off completely.
Once my house was paid for, I found a piece of property that I talk a lot about on this blog, what I refer to as the Eden Property. It was also purchased low compared to the lots around it, and I have every intention of making it livable for myself so I can in turn sell my house and live on a lake on the coast in the PNW and fulfill a childhood dream.
And I’ve never made more than $50,000 in any given year of employment in my life.
Needless to say, it can be done, even on an abysmally small income. No, I can’t do this in New York City. But, why would I even want to? The Quiet Quitting trend is, of course, a fad. But, the actual practice had been done in the past, just without a name. It might sound strange, but I’m so grateful I got sick when I did, as it woke me up from the programming we all received in public school that we are required to work a 9-5 job, scramble to get ahead, and lately, that it’s okay to be compared increasingly with robots.
Once I took the plunge and chose to go part-time, I can’t imagine a job where I would want to go back again. Yes, it would be much more difficult if not impossible if I did not “theoretically” have free health insurance that was not tied to my job. Granted. But, in my continual job search (which really only consists of receiving emails for job postings in my inbox for my area and Hawaii) I have come across several part-time jobs that provide insurance to their workers. So it is possible. There is also the option of getting oneself in peak shape and then purchasing out of pocket catastrophic medical insurance for those life-altering possibilities.
I can’t imagine this will be a growing trend in society, simply because most people like stuff and they like a lot of it and are programed to work their fingers to the bone to get it. But, there are a minority who will not wait for the light at the end of the tunnel (traditional retirement) and want something else instead.
Trust your instincts. It is possible. I’m living proof of it. Run the numbers and see if you can swing it. Read the books I mentioned in this article. Whatever it is you want to do, there is a way to do it, even on a tiny budget like mine.
I wish you the best of luck…
Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.
Excerpt from Ashen Monk Mountain:
There was an old elm tree near the end of the lawn, with a circular picnic table and several short benches.
“This looks like a lovely spot,” Mr. Eckey said, taking a seat.
He set his briefcase on the picnic table and flipped the latches, opening the lid.
Christopher took a seat opposite him and removed his hood, folding his arms in front of him.
“I have a tablet and a pen here somewhere,” Mr. Eckey said. “I had it when I left, that is. Not sure if I can find it in this disorganized briefcase of mine…”
He chuckled at himself.
“So – ”
Christopher ran a hand over his short cropped scalp.
“I’m confused about all this. I’m not sure I understand why exactly you wanted to meet with me.”
Mr. Eckey nodded.
“How long have you been a novitiate here?”
“Going on seven months now.”
He glanced up at Christopher as he fetched his notebook and ink pen.
“How are you liking it at Saint Joseph’s?”
“It has been – ”
Christopher thought about the question for a moment.
“ – wonderful.”
“I would assume it much different than – ”
Mr. Eckey flipped the first page over, scanned handwritten notes he had on the second page.
“I received some background from the Precept’s office, as well as from Abbot Greenly. You grew up in – North Platte, Nebraska? Is that correct?”
“I’m native of the Boston area myself,” Mr. Eckey said. “Tell me a little about how you came to the decision.”
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“To become a monk. It must have been quite a journey from Nebraska.”
“Not really. I guess. I just – ”
Unwanted images flashed through his mind.
Mr. Eckey took a deep breath before speaking again.
“Mr. Ward, I don’t actually know a whole lot about this request, to be perfectly honest. As you know, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life – that’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it – we are entrusted with monitoring abnormal behavior among those called to the consecrated vocation.”
He tapped his pen on the tablet.
“Tell me, what do you like about Saint Joseph’s exactly?”
“It’s the – well – I feel at home here. Like I belong. I very much enjoy the silence.”
“Yes, I know the Trappists to be quite ardent in their devotion.”
Christopher nodded in agreement as Mr. Eckey took a few notes.
“I enjoy the early mornings, the worship, the offices. The undivided devotion.”
“To God?” Mr. Eckey asked.
“Yes,” Christopher said. “Exactly.”
The stranger focused on his notes for several seconds, silently mouthing the words he wrote.
“Tell me, how does your life now differ from your previous one?”
Mr. Eckey stopped writing.
“Your military career.”
“Oh,” Christopher said, looking down. “I guess – I – I don’t know. There are lots of differences. I’m not – sure I – what is this inquiry about exactly?”
Mr. Eckey put his pen down.
“Mr. Ward,” he said. “The Vatican apparently has interest in your particular gifts and abilities for a – call it – a special appointment. I guess that’s the best way to put it.”
He shifted his weight on the hard bench.
“Normally, the Congregation does not get involved in appointments or a particular monk’s vocational choices. But, sometimes, when the need arises, special arrangements can be made.”
“Are you talking about another monastery?”
“Actually – ”
Mr. Eckey picked his pen back up.
“It’s an entirely different Order.”
Christopher leaned forward as a gust of wind billowed the long sleeves of his tunic.
“I don’t really understand,” he said. “Are you saying the Vatican wants me to move to a different monastery – to a different Order? But…I…”
Mr. Eckey waited a moment.
“Tell me, Mr. Ward, about your military training.”
“What about it?”
“Your experiences. You were a special operator, is that correct?”
Christopher shot him a quizzical look.
“How do you know that?”
“You were part of the 7th SFG? Assigned to operations in Afghanistan for the majority of your enlistment, surrendering your commission as a Captain. Is that correct? What did you like or dislike about your military career? Why was it you left?”
Christopher looked out over the cornfields in the distance.
“Sir,” he said, wringing his hands together. “I don’t really understand why you’re asking these kinds of questions. To be honest, they’re making me a little uncomfortable. I think I – ”
“Please, Brother Christopher,” Mr. Eckey said, putting up a hand. “I don’t mean to pry. As I said, this is a peculiar and rather sensitive situation, not at all normal procedure. So, I do apologize for my rather tactless approach. Let me explain a little, if I can – ”
Christopher tried to relax.
He struggled to repress the memories rising in the back of his mind, the bloody and gruesome images of dead bodies, a horrible, yet all too familiar wave of fear and dread washing over him.
A wave of putrid death enveloped and permeated everything.
He took a deep breath, tried to ignore it.
Mr. Eckey put down his pen again.
“There is a remote monastery in British Colombia. It is of a separate Order, not Cistercian, but similar. It’s rather distinctive, as I am led to believe.”
“What is the Order?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey shook his head.
“You would not be familiar with it,” he said. “There is actually only one monastery in the Order. But it has had a long, and quite fascinating history, to say the least. And, somewhat of a fantastic service.”
“So, why me, then?” Christopher asked. “I’m a novitiate. I don’t have much to offer. I’m not sure what you are asking of me.”
“The Vatican is asking a favor of you, Brother Ward. They are requesting that you take a leave of absence from Saint Joseph’s and visit this other monastery for a time.”
“I’m – I don’t – ”
“I’m honored that the Vatican has called on me,” he said. “I really do feel settled here, though. I would not wish to – ”
Mr. Eckey interrupted.
“Consider it simply a sabbatical of sorts. Without strings attached. We are interested solely in God’s working here in this matter.”
“Are you wanting me to relocate?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“How about we say the Vatican is open and interested in the Father’s call on your life. We simply wish to – test the waters – see if this would or would not be a good fit.”
“So, if I go, and it is not a good fit?”
“Your place here at Saint Joseph’s would be available to you at any time you see fit. Like I said, no strings attached.”
“I would not feel comfortable going without Abbot Greenly’s blessing,” Christopher said.
“You have it,” Mr. Eckey said, his smile widening.
Christopher said nothing.
“Think of it as a vacation. Though, if I’m hearing you correctly, you really are in no need of one. But, then again…. ”
The man shrugged.
“May I – ”
Christopher pondered his words.
“Is it possible to consider this awhile before I decide?”
“Certainly,” Mr. Eckey said. “Because of the situation, though, we would need you to go sooner than later. Is there anything upcoming that you are thinking about in particular?”
Christopher shook his head.
“No,” he said. “I would just like to sit with this for a day or two. Pray about it. How long would the visit be?”
“As long as you need to decide,” Mr. Eckey said. “Preferably a month to start. Longer is encouraged. Like I said, it is a unique situation, so tradition does not really lend itself easily. But, I would ask – ”
He put his notepad and pen back in his briefcase and closed the lid.
“Because of the sensitive nature, the Vatican has requested that you do not discuss this with anyone except me. Not the other monks here, your family, not even Abbot Greenly.”
“But, how – ”
Mr. Eckey put up a hand.
“I’m heading back to discuss the situation with Abbot Greenly before I leave the grounds. He will certainly not have an objection. Not that I can imagine, anyway.”
He fished out a business card from the inside pocket of his blazer.
“Here is my contact information,” he said, handing him the card. “You can reach me on my cell phone any time. Whenever you decide, one way or the other. There is a great need, though, so I do hope you will consider at least visiting.”
Christopher took the card, looked at it, then looked up at Mr. Eckey.
“What kind of need, exactly?”
The man just smiled.
“All in due time,” he said. “Just let us know as soon as you are able.”
Christopher looked back at the card.
“Thank you, Brother Ward, for your time. I do think I can find my way back to the abbot’s office from here.”
He briefly looked around the grounds.
“I do envy you a little,” he said. “What a majestic space you monks have created here. It’s like a slice of Eden. Really.”
He got up, shook Christopher’s hand, then left him there alone, as the stranger retraced his steps to the abbot’s office.
Christopher took a deep breath, then sighed.
The wave of putrid death still lingered as another wind gust blew across the fields, dredging up memories he would have altogether wished could have remained buried, soaking him again in the blood of the past.
He stayed there for a long time, just watching as the endless sea of cornfields waved in the winds.
Buy my book Ashen Monk Mountain to find out what this cryptic and mysterious appointment is the Vatican is asking Christopher to take on. An unheard of monastery, hidden deep in the Canadian Rockies? A secret mission and call? What in the world could be going on?
Click here and grab your copy today! Whatever you do, don’t let this fantastically epic story get away!
But, trust me when I say, you’re not going to believe the truth even when you discover it for yourself. Find out what secrets lay hidden underfoot at Ashen Monk Mountain!