Bailing out from the workday world can be exhilarating–and hair- raising. Throwing caution to the winds to strike out on one’s own can be the start of a fulfilling adventure–and a satisfying new way-of-life– even in today’s volatile economy. Of course, many individuals don’t have the time, money or guts to walk this economic tightrope.
For most, starting a business, spending time with family, teaching or just taking some time off to regroup would be enough. The problem is that so often these aspirations amount to to nothing more than dreams deferred: they happen either too late or not at all. But these days, more individuals are taking the risk. and rewriting the script so that they can be in charge of the show.
Despite the strong work ethic embraced by many baby boomers, a recent study reflects a definite change in this group’s attitude toward work. According to the study presented at the Academy of Management’s national meeting, held last August in Cincinnati, nearly 40% of the 874 middle- income managers surveyed said they would quit their jobs if they had enough money to live comfortably. A similar study done in the 1980s found the only 23% would quit, and back in the 1950s only 14% said they would opt out.
Today’s respondents said that if they could change jobs they would work for smaller companies or become entrepreneurs, notes Frieda Reitman, a professor emeritus at Pace University in New York, who co-authored the study with Professor Joy Schneer of Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. “Only a small percentage focused on living a life of leisure. It was much more a desire for self-employment and more involvement with the family and community.”
STOP THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET OFF
Longer hours, increased responsibility and little free time have created a legion of stressed-out workers with no real outlet. Others have found that the grind of a nine-to-five job no longer offers them all they thought it would.
“It’s part of the natural evolution of humans beings to want to feel that their work is valuable and that they are making a contribution,” says James C. Gonyea, founder and host of the America Online Career Center in New Port Richey, Florida. “As people move higher up in an organization, they become distanced from the people they were intended to serve. They begin to feel unfulfilled.”
Another reason some individuals want to change their line of work is the realization that they were in the wrong field to begin with. So many people are not fully aware of their interests, abilities, values and needs–those elements that make up their personality type. “It is very difficult to identify occupations that are right for you if you’re unsure about who you are,” states Gonyea. “Unfortunately, the realization that you’re in the wrong job doesn’t usually come until after you’ve been there for a while, which in time leads some to make a change.”
Still others have grown tired of the threat to financial and career security that decades