The Great Resignation – Why We All Want to Take a Sabbatical

The Great Resignation

In case you’ve missed the news lately, one of the biggest talking points is “The Great Resignation.” It seems everyone is quitting their jobs these days and effectively leaving the labor force with undefined plans about what to do next.

The Great Resignation

As an “elder millennial,” here are my thoughts on The Great Resignation, why I plan to take a sabbatical, and why I think so many are in the same boat.

1. We Have Already Lived Through Several Recessions and Know Our Country’s Reslilancy

One of the primary reasons to work is to make money. But, having lived through several recessions, I know that what goes down must come up and vice versa. 

What does this mean? We will experience another market crash. 

But it isn’t going to kill us. It will be hugely challenging, but I also have seen the power of our government to help people through the tough times. I’m not scared of the next recession because I’ve already lived through several.

2. Living Through Said Recessions has Forced Personal Resilience

Besides knowing I can count on the government to help people through the worst of it, I have also built my own personal resilience after having lived through multiple recessions before turning 40.

I live in a house much smaller than we can afford and have built safety nets. Additionally, I have saved a significant amount of money in order to be able to take some time off.

Had I lived in a previous generation, I probably would have bought a larger house with every raise and spent money on things that we didn’t really need before saving money in an emergency fund. 

While I know the government is there, I’m certainly not counting on it to help me.

3. The Pandemic Was a Big Wake Up Call With Respect to What We Are Missing with Family

Another reason I think the Great Resignation is happening is because COVID-19 and the lockdowns opened our eyes to all we are missing in our family lives. I used to travel several times a month for work, and my kids were in before and after-school care.

During the pandemic, they were distance learning. While that was a nearly impossible challenge, I was also present for their entire days. When they went back to school, I was still working from home, so I got to see them before they got on the bus and after they got home from school.

As any parent who has been lucky enough to experience this knows, when a kid gets off the bus is about the only time you’re actually going to hear about their day. It’s like the floodgates open, and you hear about who did what to whom at recess, the kid in class who had his appendix out, or went to a soccer game the night before.

I was no longer changing in my work restroom into coaching clothes before rushing to pick my son up and feeding us both snacks in the car in order to get to baseball practice on time. Breakfast wasn’t eaten in the car on the way to before-school care. Instead, I could make my kids’ fresh pancakes in the morning.

These moments only last a few years in a child’s life. And I was missing them. The pandemic allowed me to see this, and I don’t want to miss any more time.

4. The Pandemic was a Big Wake Up Call with Respect to What We Are Missing with Purpose

In addition to having more time to spend with family, the pandemic also allowed me more time to think. 

Specifically, to ponder what is the meaning of life and what my purpose is. Is my career fulfilling? Or am I just another rat in the race? How do I best use my skills and strengths to contribute to the world? 

I haven’t answered this yet, but I do know it’s not what I’m doing in my current role. 

5. Pandemic Reminded Us of How Short Life Is

I don’t know anyone who got through COVID without some sort of loss, whether it was the loss of a job, loss of purpose, loss of the life of a loved one. It was a harsh reminder of how short life really is.

When life is this short, it’s not worth it to stay in a job you don’t like. 

6. We Have Different Values Than Prior Generations

I think the Great Resignation is happening now because of the values of our generation. Specifically, we are concerned about climate change. We value new experiences and adventures. Furthermore, we value time over money. 

All of these things lead us to leaving jobs that aren’t working out for us.

7. We Feel Entitled

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Millennials are one of the more entitled generations. But what are we entitled to? It’s not bad to be entitled. 

We feel entitled to find a career that makes a difference. We feel entitled to have time to spend with friends and not work all night and weekend. We feel entitled to love who we want to love. We feel entitled to see everyone treated fairly and justly. 

We feel entitled to see our kids grow up, make it to their sports games, and hear about their days at school. We feel entitled to having time to take care of our bodies with regular exercise. We feel entitled to protect our mental health.

These don’t sound so much like entitlements to me. They sound like they are things that should be basic human needs. Dare I say human rights?

The Bottom Line

I don’t know why everyone is resigning, but I do know why I am ready for a sabbatical. I suspect my reasons resonate with many others.

This post is part of our Sabbatical Sundays series. To read more, click here.