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 But these are old, outdated baby boomer tropes.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.

10 replies
  1. Adrian
    Adrian says:

    It’s something I’ve been feeling a lot lately. I might be wrong, but it seems that there are huge, widespread networks of support and information available to women to help them make decisions and learn how to plan – both skills that are learned, not innate.

    And it seems that such networks and tools are not available to men. In fact, men seeking such things are often made to feel like losers for seeking support instead of being heroes.

  2. Nataly
    Nataly says:

    Since I didn’t grow up in this country, I’m not quite sure what letter is assigned to my generation (I was born in 1975 if that helps), but I really appreciate your posting this and writing on this topic. I am lucky to be married to someone who sees his home responsibilities and being a dad as important – if not more – than what he does in his career. (On our first date, he told me that he wanted to be a dad when I asked him what he wanted to do in life.) My career has always been nuts, hectic, and crazy – and while I’ve tried to change it after our daughter was born, I would have been a horrible mom if it weren’t for my husband and his involvement and help. He is now interviewing for different jobs, his career is really taking off, but I know he is very stressed out about having to work longer hours or travel – he wants to be here, to be a dad, a husband and have a career.

    I agree with you that the issue of juggling work and family is becoming more of an issue for a greater percentage of men. (In fact, I’ve thought about whether it was a mistake to focus our company on helping moms do this.) At the same time, I do think that in most cases, it is the mom having the bulk of the home responsibilities still – my husband is the only one I know who found and did the first interview with our nanny!

  3. russ eckel
    russ eckel says:

    Once again you have come back to one of the core issues. Here’s the question that comes up as I read this well argued post: Can individuals regulate time? Here’s what underlies this question. Well over a century ago people around the world responded to the rise of industrial time with a demand for a forty hour work week. After a long and bitter political struggle this goal was achieved. As time went on people who’s lives were heavily regulated by the relentless pace of the assembly line furhter regulated time with diemands for higher rates of pay when employers asked for or demanded more of our “private” time. Labor law regulates how many hours a teenager can work and what hours of the day or night they can be employed outside the home.

    Now globalization and the rise of post-industrial time ( we can work anywhere at any time) is putting the question to us again. How do we want to spend our days and nights? How do we want to live? Some employers want us to work harder and longer; a “natural” response to the rise of global competition resulting in the need to do more with less.

    The response thus far in the U.S. has largely been to find a “private” solution to the demands for more of our time. Taken together, millions of people, particularly younger people, are as you say, pushing back. Interestingly, the French people just elected a new President who campaigned on a platform that the French people needed to work MORE.

    The tug of war over time has been with us since people put down their plows and went into the factory. But now the whole world can work ‘twenty-four seven’. Will the private solution, or even the collective will to resist “global time” be enough to establish a new implicit social understanding? Perhaps another way of asking the sam e question would be to ask: How much will younger people be willing to sacrifice as others around the world work more? Will time, evne more so than wages, represent a core driver when companies make investment decisions?

    Let’s not be naive about time. If this is the new friction point in the work place, we may not even be warm yet.

    * * * * * *
    Russ, what an insightful comment. I think you might be right in that we are framing new issues with an old fram still. And the bleeding edge is how we think about time more than values. Maybe they are not so interwoven as we think.

    Someone just left a comment on another post about the learning disability called discalculia. I can’t help thinking that maybe our culture, or the first world, maybe has a problem thinking about time that we need to compensate for culturally. Very vague, I know. I just want you to know that you got me thinking. And thanks for that.

    -Penelope

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