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Why is it important?
The concept of downshifting has emerged in recent years as a way of improving work-life balance or bringing about fundamental changes that improve your quality of life. At its most extreme, it can mean giving up your job, moving house and doing something completely different - such as running a smallholding.
However, it can also mean simply reducing your hours as retirement approaches, working more flexibly, or shedding responsibility. Downshifting is often voluntary but can also be prompted by a change in circumstances, such as redundancy, that lead you to reassess priorities. Whatever the driver, the professional, financial and social considerations must be thought through if the change is to live up to your expectations.
Where do I start?
Contemplate your reasons and motivation for downshifting. It may be a culmination of events, or just one trigger episode that has forced you to think differently about your job.
Be certain you are not acting on impulse or simply reacting to a situation or set of circumstances that may be temporary.
"You should be asking yourself what you are moving away from and what you want to achieve, so you can plan a route to get there," says Jane Turner, associate dean, executive development portfolio at Newcastle Business School in Northumbria University.
"What motivations, thoughts and feelings are influencing your actions? Make sure you're not running away from a situation but walking towards a future that you have visualised and planned for."
Opt for a slower lane
There are three main ways to downshift: by reducing working hours, stopping work completely or changing career.
If the better lifestyle you are pursuing can be achieved by lessening your workload and changing your role or responsibilities, consider whether your organisation would be receptive to this. It could be in the form of job sharing, term-time working, flexi-time, voluntary reduced hours, or even working from home several days a week.
Write down the implications for all areas of your life - professional, financial, social - and talk them through with your partner, family and friends. Successful downshifting relies on recognising your core values and being able to connect with them.
Turner recommends finding a coach who can work through the process objectively and help you make sense of your thoughts and feelings. "F