The biggest difference between the workplace today and the workplace twenty years ago is where the friction is. It used to be that the frontier of workplace change was feminism. Today it is time.
Women pushed for equal opportunity, equal pay, equal respect at home. Men pushed to hold their ground, hold their sense of self, hold their vision of what work is like. It was men against women. Baby boomers like Sylvia Hewlett and Leslie Bennetts cannot stop fighting this fight, and the media helps them. But these are old, outdated baby boomer tropes.
Today men and women have shared goals: More time for family and friends, and more respect for personal growth at work for everyone, not just the high-ranking or the hardest-working. We are at a shift. The majority of men under thirty say they are willing to give up pay and power to spend time with kids, according to Phyllis Moen, sociologist at University of Minnesota.
My favorite story about this shift is about the publishing of the book, The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke. My agent represented that book. She tells me that it was initially geared toward women, and men were outraged that people would call the infringement of work on home life a women’s issue. So at the last minute, they shifted the target of the book to include men.
If Generation Y has made its mark as entrepreneurs, Generation X has made its mark by valuing family. Both men and women in this generation are scaling back work to take care of family. And we’re doing it at precisely the time in life when baby boomers were inventing the word Yuppie and Latchkey Kid.
Generation X and Y are valuing time in a new way: we are trading money for time. Baby boomers assumed they would get a lot of money and then buy time at the end – their retirement. We want time now, and we’re willing to give up a lot to get it.
These are hard decisions to make, though. And there’s huge structural pushback in the workplace. The same way that women had to figure out how to change the workplace to accommodate them twenty years ago, men and women today have to figure out how to restructure the workplace to accommodate their personal time.
Women get guidance all the time for how to make the decisions, but the discussion is more muted for men. The way that I usually contribute to that male half of the discussion is through my husband, who has given up a lot to take care of our kids and can’t really figure how to get back on track.
But today I also want to add David Bohl to the discussion. He is a career coach who specializes in helping people create well-balanced, fulfilled lives and lifestyles. He focuses on the topics you’d expect – productivity, aligning values and setting priorities.
I liked him immediately when we started emailing because he is living the life he talks about in his coaching – that is, he adjusted his work to accommodate his personal life, and is always thinking about how to make this lifestyle work better. It’s a hard shift, especially for men, so I appreciate that he’s already done it, and now he is helping others make the shift in the American dream from focusing on money to focusing on time.
If you want to work with David for 90 minutes, for free. Send an email to me about why you think he’d be a good fit for you. The deadline is Sunday, May 20.