People that know me well know that I like to learn foreign languages. The ones that know me very well know also that I defend Spanish (my mother language): the “Spanglish” language that sometimes we speak without noticing it isn´t appropriate for me… Yes, I´m the contradiction made human. Sometimes there are some words that are difficult to express in my mother language: this is one of them.
I knew about the meaning just a few years ago, when I was practising myself and I was glad I wasn´t the only one in the world. Downshifting is a philosophy of life a little bit different from the “hurry-up” of our times. The main law is to downshift and go slower in all of your acts… Many people like me are doing it now,e even when they don´t know the meaning of the word. Many others may wonder how.
As always, the Scandinavians are ahead of everybody. It consists on not being so avaricious when it concerns to work (in other words, stop working as much as you can to get as much money as you can) and be content with enough to live… Right now I´m imagining many of you raising your hands, being surprised, calling me nuts. Its simply as trying to have an austere live, enough to live. No more, no less.
It´s understood that we all are trapped in a consumer society that “oblige” us to buy anything, even when we can live without it. I´m the first one to fall in the system but I try my best not to do it. For me it´s more importat to come back home to be with my family thatn anything else. It´s very important to be productive in your work hours. As some experts say, staying in our work lots of hours doesn´t mean being productive: the work needs to be done.
I was like many of us: I wanted to improve in my career and get lots of money above all. I left a very hard work for an even harder one. The salary that was promised to me was more than OK with a reasonable shift. I thought that I couldn´t offer any better to my (at that time) small family of three (my daughter, my dog and me)… Ath the end, I got to lose one year of my daughter´s life (I lived to work all day) and summons at the court: I was defrauded.
I learned the lessons and I went to a job where I worked less hours but I was proportionally better paid. Of course, I couldn´t afford going out for a drink or diner every weekend but I could spend some more time with my family and for me. I learned to be happy with less money: I ajusted my spendings. I remember like yesterday when I called the credit card company (I only have one): the person that attended me couldn´t believe I wanted to reduce my card´s limit. My answer was clear: “My earnings has lowered, so my limit has to go down as well”.
Right now I have a job where I finish at six and enjoy life (that´s why we work, don´t we?). As a boss of mine used to tell us: “There are many moments in a worker´s life: time to wait for a client to receive us, time for bureaucracy, time to attend clients and time to rest”. And that´s what I do when I finish work: enjoy my (actual) enlarged family.
(First published in http://maritza-in-english.blogspot.com.es/2010/12/downshifting.html on December 11th 2008)