- Lack of flexibility in work schedule,
- The remainder of Baby Boomers and older Generation X members retiring, and
- Escaping a toxic work environment.
These are valid factors, but I believe a critical reason that explains a lot of what we see in the world around us not only with resignations, but the general anger you see in society these days is being ignored:
We’re traumatized by the past two years, and we can’t go back.
I don’t know a single person who didn’t have at least one personal tragedy over the past couple of years that was further complicated by COVID restrictions. In fact, most had an avalanche of circumstances collapse on them that left them shocked, confused, and broken. We’re hurt, we're confused, and we don’t know how to move on. The old ways don’t work, and trying to force ourselves into the pre-COVID models cases stress and further trauma by reminding us of all we've lost. What’s the easiest solution? Identify the #1 life stressor, which is usually work, and dump it if you can.
I work full time outside of the home, so I've experienced the stress of being sent to work from home, then being sent back to the office with little notice and life crashing down all around me. Dealing with family health issues over the past couple of years gave me a totally different insight to the modern workforce, and it left me wondering if I’ll be able to make it to retirement eligibility. For me it isn't a matter of if I want to work, but a matter of being able to work if circumstances don't change to remove the conflicts. I'm not the only one who got a glimpse of this, either. I’ve known several people who had to take retirement earlier than expected or leave careers they've had for decades to do something else because work-from-home privileges were revoked, and they had to make a choice between work or family. Add COVID to the mix and all of our paradigms shifted to make us realize that we need to find a new way to live in harmony with our priorities, while still taking care of the "must do's" of life.
The problem is that not all of us can retire or afford to drop out of the workforce, especially with insane inflation and the projections that it will only get worse with the increasing tensions created by Russia potentially invading the Ukraine. I certainly don’t begrudge those retiring who can, and understand why they do. But what do the rest of us do? Those of us in mid career or later want a return on our investment and to be able to retire. Younger people need to find a place where they belong in a world that's rebuilding itself. And we all need to resolve the existential and identity crises we're having as a result of the world gone mad.
Sadly, there’s no “once size fits all” solution, and I suspect that the mental health community is underequipped to deal with this level of distress in society. Each and every one of us has to find a way to help ourselves. That depends on individual factors like self-discipline, focus, emotional resilience, and old fashioned determination to find a way. It isn’t easy for anybody to overcome personal trauma. Add other factors like current circumstances, mental and physical health conditions, and this is a powder keg that could blow in anybody at any given time.
I think it would help if employers would be proactive in trying to figure out why their employees are leaving, and addressing those issues, but that will only help if the individuals take personal responsibility to acknowledge, understand, and articulate their needs to heal their souls. I chose to make changes in my personal life and schedule to focus on making progress in areas that matter to me, build a solid foundation for the future, and heal. Sometimes my soul squeals about missing those time wasting activities like mindlessly scrolling the Internet, or vegging out behind the TV to watch something I’ve seen too many times to count, but those spells usually pass quickly, and I wind out going to bed happy with what I’ve accomplished during the day. Small changes make a big difference to me, so I knew that was the best way for me to try first. So far, I have good results.
I recently did some edits on a church devotional that we’re planning for Lent, and it further confirmed that everybody is still struggling with the effect that COVID had on us over the past two years. I found myself staring out of the window after I finished my edits, thinking "two years ago I was weeks from finding out that what I thought was a perfect life was over." Then again, some of that itself was an illusion, but everything, both real and unreal, was blown away in March 2020. It’s been tough, and no life has been untouched. I wish there were a magic want I could wave to heal all of our bodies and souls, but there isn’t. In the end, it’s a personal responsibility to get into prayer and meditation to find out way back into the light. Perhaps on the way, we’ll find others on similar paths, and reform community in our healing efforts.
And for those of you who have been in the workforce before and during COVID and are still sticking in there, hats off to you! It's not easy being awesome, but we do it. Cheers and blessings to the troopers hanging in there that are in it to win it!
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.