1、When I decided to quit my full time employment it never occurred to me that I might become a part of a new international trend. A lateral move that hurt my pride and blocked my professional progress prompted me to abandon my relatively high profile career although, in the manner of a disgraced government minister, I covered my exit by claiming "I wanted to spend more time with my family".
2、Curiously, some two-and-a-half years and two novels later, my experiment in what the Americans term "downshifting" has turned my tired excuse into an absolute reality. I have been transformed from a passionate advocate of the philosophy of "have it all", preached by Linda Kelsey for the past seven years in the pages of she magazine, into a woman who is happy to settle for a bit of everything.
3、I have discovered, as perhaps Kelsey will after her much-publicized resignation from the editorship of She after a build-up of stress, that abandoning the doctrine of "juggling your life", and making the alternative move into "downshifting" brings with it far greater rewards than financial success and social status. Nothing could persuade me to return to the kind of life Kelsey used to advocate and I once enjoyed: 12-hour working days, pressured deadlines, the fearful strain of office politics and the limitations of being a parent on "quality time".
4、In America, the move away from juggling to a simpler, less materialistic lifestyle is a well-established trend. Downshifting — also known in America as "voluntary simplicity" — has, ironically, even bred a new area of what might be termed anti-consumerism. There are a number of bestselling downshifting self-help books for people who want to simplify their lives; there are newsletters, such as The Tightwad Gazette, that give hundreds of thousands of Americans useful tips on anything from recycling their cling-film to making their own soap; there are even support groups for those who want to achieve the mid-'90s equivalent of dropping out.
5、While in America the trend started as a reaction to the economic decline — after the mass redundancies caused by downsizing in the late '80s — and is still linked to the politics of thrift, in Britain, at least among the middle class downshifters of my acquaintance, we have different reasons for seeking to simplify our lives.
6、For the women of my generation who were urged to keep juggling through the '80s, downshifting in the mid-'90s is not so much a search for the mythical good life — growing your own organic vegetables, and risking turning into one — as a personal recognition of your limitations.