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Quiet quitting: Finding balance by setting work boundaries

Quiet quitting is a catchy phrase that has been floating around on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok for the past few months. The term describes a lifestyle and mindset shift that professionals make in the workforce. There are many reasons that can lead an individual to implement quiet quitting. This phrase and lifestyle shift is a response to hustle culture and the need to resist being a “girl boss.” I understand hustle culture has been popular because we see people’s overnight success stories telling you not to give up. But some of these success stories do not relate to everyone else’s realities. Many people feel stagnant in their current roles and feel like they are stuck at a dead-end job. Some people are struggling to find a way to prevent career stagnation.

People are choosing to no longer leave their jobs for a new one, but instead are choosing to step back from overextending themselves at work. The definition of quiet quitting according to Zaid Khan, is the idea of “not outright quitting your job but quitting the idea of going above and beyond.” This statement was displayed on one of Zaid Khan’s viral TikTok videos. This video along with many others has sparked conversation around what it looks like to just get by with meeting work expectations.

Quiet quitting is the process of still completing your responsibilities at work but not taking on more work outside your job description, staying late at the job, or even taking your work home to finish up. Some people describe this as boundary setting and work-life balance. While others seem to consider this to be a lack of ambition and sometimes laziness. What some don’t recognize is people are still completing the task expected of them just not wanting to take on more expectations at work. People are choosing to do the minimum amount of work so they do not experience burnout. The beliefs around quiet quitting are up to personal interpretation.

The dialogue around quiet quitting is creating a necessary conversation about many issues taking place in the workforce right now during the labor shortage. The workforce is open with many positions that need to be filled. According to Sherry Fuller, a TJC career planning specialist, the labor shortage is beneficial to the employees but not to the employers. “It is a good thing for the employees and makes it kind of like a buyers market,” Fuller said.

This current workforce has more options for people who are looking for something different in their careers. The labor shortage has impacted many businesses of all sizes, and it has led to the lack of sustainable growth for many companies. Many people have started small businesses or taken on roles as independent contractors. This transformation has many people focusing on work-life balance because people working in the workforce feel their employers have high expectations for them as employees without meeting the needs of the staff, not providing fair compensation, such as raises and promotions, or even recognition.

As someone who has experienced burnout and disillusionment from not finding fulfillment in work, I have found quiet quitting feels like the only option. Sometimes quiet quitting can feel like a survival method to distance yourself from a team in a toxic work environment. Leaving the job is not possible for everyone considering that many people in our society live paycheck to paycheck. Quiet quitting is the realization that there is more to life than climbing the corporate ladder and it is an example of just going under the radar.

“It is important that employees have a great communication avenue with their employers, to understand what the expectations are because employees want to be successful and enjoy their work environment,” Fuller said.

Quiet quitting for me is the realization that I am human and not a robot. It has been necessary to find purpose and fulfillment in more areas of my life outside of my job title. Quiet quitting is a phrase that has pushed many to evaluate their lives. This simple phrase has allowed some people to take a step back from work to focus on what they are passionate about. The use of quiet quitting can lead to people setting goals for other areas of their lives outside of the workplace. Quiet quitting is a reminder to everyone in the workforce no matter their age to not let their identity and self-worth be tied to their job title.

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