What Is Downshifting and How Does It Work? How to Make the Change to Simple Living
I've spent my entire life driving manual transmission automobiles, but I'd only ever heard the terms "downshift" and "downshifting" in relation to gears.
I was ecstatic to learn that downshifting may be used in our daily lives a few years ago:
"Switch from a financially profitable but difficult job or lifestyle to one that is less stressful and lower compensated but more fulfilling."
Now that I've left my corporate 9-to-5 career, it's the ideal moment to reconsider downshifting. The definition above is pretty accurate; the only difference is that "less well paid" currently means "nothing" to me.
Downshifting is an excellent place to start if you're interested in simple living but don't know where to start. If any of your friends or family members have expressed an interest in slow or simple living, this is an excellent post to share with them to get them started.
Who are Downshifters and what is Downshifting?
I conducted a lot of studies on downshifting, but this post only contains the highlights. I found the following definitions and descriptions of downshifting to be the most helpful:
"Working towards simple living by making conscious choices to leave consumerism behind and move on to a more sustainable existence" is what downshifting entails. — Making the Choice for Voluntary Simplicity
"Reducing one's level of living in order to increase one's quality of life." — According to Investopedia
"Downshifters are persons who live a life of voluntary simplicity for a long time." They accept less pay in exchange for fewer hours worked in order to devote more time to the important aspects of life. Downshifters also prioritize consuming less in order to lessen their environmental impact... Downshifters essentially seek a life that is richer in passion, purpose, meaning, fulfillment, and happiness. A life with no regrets to look back on. Downshifters aspire to 'upshift' in other areas of their lives by slowing down at work. For most people, downshifting to a slower life occurs after a long search for true happiness and contentment." ― Slow Motion
Social practice or trend in which people live simpler lifestyles in order to avoid what detractors refer to as the "rat race." Downshifting's long-term effects can include an escape from "economic materialism," as well as a reduction in the "stress and psychological expenditure that may accompany economic materialism"... People who opt for long-term voluntary simplicity are known as down-shifters. Accepting less money for fewer hours worked, as well as focusing on consuming less in order to lessen their ecological imprint, are some of the key behaviors of down-shifters... Downshifting's personal objectives are straightforward: To achieve a holistic self-understanding and a fulfilling sense of purpose in life.
Someone who has concluded that in their career, more isn't necessarily better is referred to as a downshifter. While there have always been corporate dropouts who despised the "rat race," downshifters just desire a more balanced lifestyle. They may choose to leave the corporate world or just simplify their lives by accepting less stressful and time-consuming positions and compensating for their lower salary with more economical living." — The New York Times.
Values are at the heart of the movement. People are valuing time, health, and peace of mind more than money and belongings. Downshifting is about people separating what they desire from what they need to be happy, regardless of how much they cut back at work, pare down their lifestyles, or slow down their entire pace of life... Downshifting is defined as "moving away from a single emphasis, such as a corporate focus, and toward a more balanced life focus." — Employees
Downshifting and technology: Keep in mind that those pieces were published before Facebook and the iPhone, which feels like an eternity ago. Since then, it appears that society has only accelerated tremendously. In 2018, we are in desperate need of a downshift to allow us to live at a more deliberate pace. While downshifting can imply taking a step back to review your life, it does not always imply reverting to a pre-technology era. I believe we should use technology to improve our lives rather than allowing it to control us. New inventions and developments, on the other hand, can accidentally introduce new issues and obstacles.
Downshifting isn't something that happens overnight: it's named that for a reason! It's a slow and steady process. This is a crucial point. It was so essential to me that I felt obligated to use my own personal experience to emphasize the point. The image below depicts my (and I'm sure many others') perception of what life would be like when I opted to pursue a slow and simple lifestyle. I imagined the tipping point to be as simple as flipping a switch. Life can be hectic and complicated one day and slow and easy the next. Isn't that how it works?
Instead of being a point, the tipping point is more of a plateau. Making significant spending, lifestyle, or job changes involves a great deal of conscious and intentional work. If you've spent your entire life speeding up and eating more, slowing down and consuming less isn't going to happen overnight. So, in retrospect, the image below resembles my reality.
The tipping point is the point at which a decision to live a slower, less hectic life was taken. However, it isn't always simple. You'll note that things start to progressively drop after the tipping point, but then return to increase. It's not uncommon to revert to previous habits. After all, previous conduct is the strongest predictor of future behavior. However, I finally feel like I've crossed the second peak in that image and am now on a true path of deceleration toward a slower and simpler way of life.