According to Wikipedia, ‘downshifting‘ means to live a simpler life with less focus on material things and to find an improved balance between life and work. It usually means spending ‘quality time’ with family and friends and trying to have less impact on the environment. It’s also about spending time meaningfully.
In 2012 I’m downshifting.
Reason 1: Lack of funds. Basically, there is only enough money ‘in the kitty’ to keep me working for four days a week this year. I currently have two part-time roles with the same employer, each of two days per week. I could have worked harder to bring in more funds to cover day five for this year (and I may still be able to) but, quite frankly, the idea of downshifting was more appealing by the middle of last year. Usually downshifting means sacrificing some income, but I’m fortunate enough to have accrued some long-service leave so I’m ‘sacrificing’ that instead, one day per week.
Reason 2: I need to stabilise. 2011 was a year of big changes for me. In fact, 2010 and 2011 were both years of big changes. Actually, 2009 was a pretty big year too. And 2008, 2007 … I actually can’t remember a year that wasn’t full-on. But last year I became single, (trying my hardest to make the transition as smooth as possible for my son) became the sole owner of my home and started both of my part-time roles while other projects continued to occupy (and fund) the fifth working day until the end of the year. This year I want to consolidate the new routines and be more available for my son.
Reason 3: I want to do lots of things! I have a MASSIVE to do list! There are so many things that I want to do that are just not compatible with working five days per week (in three or even more roles) and being a single/parent and all that goes with that. I want to be able to focus on the two part-time roles that I have (and love) so that I feel like I’m doing my best at them both. I want to finish the Masters that I started in 2007. I want to finish renovations on my home that were started years ago, make more stuff, cook more, waste less, exercise, garden, read, blog!
So although downshifting to me does mean getting a better balance, I don’t really feel like it’s about balancing my time. I know myself well enough to know that I’m still going to be busy and I don’t want to feel like I can only spend a certain amount of time doing a particular thing. I’ve been lucky enough through my work to have spent time with Karilyn Fazio, from the Impetus Team and in her workshops she talked about energy management rather than time management. I want to spend my energy meaningfully in 2012. I want to focus more on the things that give me energy, rather than use it up. It’s a subtle difference, but it resonated with me.
So I’ve already started on the list. Instead of getting take-away pizza on Friday nights I’m making it from scratch (yes, including the dough). I’ve been making a menu plan for the week before going shopping. Boy and I have started a herb garden and so far we have tomato, chilli, chive and coriander seedlings in pots all over the place. I’ve started my Uni assignments (probably should have done that first) and I’ve been crocheting again. I’ve been calling my family more regularly. And I’ve written a post for my blog.
Of course, we all seem optimistic at the beginning of the year, equipped with our New Year’s resolutions and flushed with holiday freshness. Sure, everything might be different by the time July comes around. But right now, this is one more big change that I’m really looking forward to. Bring on 2012!