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The Great Resignation and The Real Reason People Are Resigning

We had burning questions about the Great Resignation. We turned to Fire Up Nation, pioneers in this movement, to gain more insight into what is actually going on. 

So you two are considered to be experts in this movement, having been way ahead of the curve. What is the Great Resignation to you?

It’s a movement of people finding their way back to their hearts and standing up for the value they see in themselves, believing they can have more – more work/life balance, more freedom to live on their own terms, and more possibilities for what they can do with their skills, passions, and resources. Mainly due to circumstances outside of their control, people are being forced to reevaluate their priorities and what they are giving their energy to. This leads to the realization for many that they want more for their lives than what they’ve been getting from their employer, their job, and just the overall system they’ve been operating under. Instead of serving someone else’s agenda and trusting an unknown to deliver their future, many people in the Great Resignation are opting out of the status quo and putting the faith and trust back into themselves. 

It seems that many people consider you leaders of the Great Resignation, but how do you consider yourself a part of it? 

We resigned from successful careers in February 2020 to pursue our dream of traveling the world, so in a sense, we were pioneers of the Great Resignation before it really became a thing. In any case, we are certainly part of the sentiment behind it — we were fed up with work that was sucking our soul away and decided that our skills and resources would be best applied by investing in ourselves and into the future we wanted to create.  

Do you have another phrase you prefer for what is going on?

For the millions we believe are like us, we refer to what is happening with the Great Resignation as the Great Reinvigoration, where people are relinquishing the box that the current system puts them in and are instead turning to their power within and choosing to live life on their own terms. 

The Great Reinvigoration is an excellent way to frame what we hope comes out of this movement, and it sounds like it fits with your mission at Fire Up Nation. What is the underlying issue with the Great Resignation as you see it?

We see two key elements, the first one being freedom. Due to the unprecedented circumstances of 2020, people were thrust into a place of reflection. What surfaced through this reflection is what really matters for people — for some, it was the newfound flexibility in their schedule and extra personal time with their family, and for others, it was a wake-up call that the trajectory of their life was not aligned with what they had intended. So, people got a taste of freedom and liked it, which only accelerated through 2021. 

What about the second underlying issue of this movement?

The other central aspect is people rekindling their sense of worth, seeing the value in themselves that their employers were perhaps not recognizing pre-COVID. The working class is not dumb. They see a favorable supply and demand situation with employment. They choose to put more value on themselves and place a higher expectation on how their employers value them, monetarily and otherwise.  

Do you think this trend, which has already reached the status of “Great” with regard to its reach and momentum, will change and level out?

We don’t believe people will suddenly forget their worth goes far beyond their occupation. We envision a rise in entrepreneurs and people pursuing self-education and contract/gig economy lifestyles built on their own terms. Also, we think there will be a trend to a simpler lifestyle where many would be willing to downgrade their paycheck to upgrade to a more fulfilling job and life, especially in our underlying financial context that inflation is here to stay. 

So the landscape of our workforce and our society are really changing? 

Ultimately, we believe society’s definition of success will morph into balance and fulfillment rather than the historic attainment of material things and exotic vacations, thus perpetuating the resignation trend. 

Is part of this Great Resignation due to laziness?

Not so much laziness as pragmatism, although we often see it politicized as laziness. Many people were given more freedom and flexibility in the work-from-home environment, more money than they made on the job pre-pandemic when you include the government stimulus and enhanced unemployment benefits. They didn’t have to take as much risk of potentially contracting a virus that was made to look like the harbinger of death early in the pandemic. So, with trillions of dollars being printed to throw at the problem, for many, logic led them to leave the workforce or hold out for a better job. For millions more, the decision was made for them, as business shutdowns/lockdowns forced their small business to close permanently. For even millions more, like us, they said screw this, I want to take back control of my life and build around what I want my future to be rather than stay in this job I know I don’t want.

With all of the changes going on, we hear new phrases and new vocabulary arise. What does the term “Buyback your life” mean to you?

It means to invest in oneself. It means to say no to what is not working for you in your life, so you can clear a space to say yes to something you are passionate about that you really want. It means giving up on the goose chase of trying to find fulfillment outside yourself and instead, turning within to ask, “What am I inspired to do with my life?” It means spending your resources – your energy, time, focus, and money – on things that serve you and where you want to go. 

“A lot of the Great Resignation amounts to people exiting a broken system.”

It seems that you are saying the Great Resignation is about more than just money?

Value can be monetary, but for a lot of people, they weren’t making a boat ton of money, to begin with, and working at a job 9 hours a day, missing the special moments with your kids to barely make ends meet and then having any gains you’ve made inflated away is a real slap in the face. Also, with inflation eating away at the dollar, even significant percentage increases in pay are often just lateral moves. A lot of the Great Resignation amounts to people exiting a broken system.  

So besides the situation with inflation, what are they seeing that is broken?

People are awakening to the fact that they were playing someone else’s game all along without a copy of the rulebook. Had they not been conditioned since childhood to believe “that’s just the way things are,” maybe they would have chosen a life more suited to their heart’s desires than to society’s. In other words, people are literally busting out and are exiting the system in favor of rewriting their own rules for a new game.

In your evaluation of this evolving situation, which generation is most likely to be permanently impacted by the Great Resignation? 

Millennials, mainly because many of them have had a taste of what years in employment for someone else does for them, and they’re ready to try a new flavor. Millennials also have more experience and resources to fall back on relative to Gen Z, who we see as perennially involved in the Great Resignation. They have always been prone to changing jobs more frequently, even before COVID-19. It is also important to note that in our travels around the world over the last two years, we’ve noticed a mass conscious awakening happening, and it transcends generations. We only see it expanding in the years ahead, adding to the Great Resignation trend.

Do you think that employers understand why people resign?

From our prior careers as high-level consultants advising Boards of Directors and CEOs on HR policy, we’d say they like to think they do. Employers are getting better at engaging their employees with regular check-ins from management and sophisticated data analytics tools. However, they’re still a long way off from having a real-time pulse on the issue of resignation, especially in the current era where we’ve seen a fundamental paradigm shift in what employees value and their expectations from their employer.

Do you think employers know that there is nothing they can do about it?

Employers can take specific actions, like offering more flexible scheduling, remote working, or allowing people to take on projects that resonate with them. This movement shows employers that employees take their power back and want to be seen as unique people rather than just a cog in the wheel or part of the matrix. Employers willing to change and put “people over profits” will be more successful with retention. On the other hand, there will continue to be a significant force of people like us deciding to take a risk on themselves and become entrepreneurs, and employers won’t be able to stop that.  

Many people have worked hard to attain a good life, and it sounds like, by all accounts, you had a perfect life before. What was this journey like for you in the beginning?

Years of waiting and justifying with self-reinforcing statements like, “I make good money, I am afforded a good life, I get to take good trips with good friends, I have a good job, I have a good lifestyle.” 

Notice how none of it was great, and we wanted Great for our lives.  

Tell us more about your personal reasons for trying to go from good to great?

We just ultimately felt inauthentic, like shadows of our former selves, and over many years of pretending like a problem wasn’t brewing inside us, this apathy for how we were living really accelerated. 

The way it showed up was poor treatment of ourselves, hard-partying, quick judgment, arrogance, closed-mindedness like we knew it all already, timidity to take risks, and stress to the point of a nervous breakdown.  

Even though you were ahead of the curve with this movement, it sounds like this had been coming for a long time for you. What did it take to shift to an “if not now, then when” mentality?

The more we said yes to the life we were living when we really meant no, the more inauthentic we felt. Doing that time and time again, day in and day out for years, made us small. It made us more reserved and comfortable to the point of insanity because we kept doing the same things and expecting something outside us to change. All it took was a little faith that we would be okay by stepping out of our comfort zone and then staying committed despite the obstacles that appeared, like a global pandemic! 

What was the balance between having and have not before? 

To paint a picture, when we were work-centric with our lifestyle, we had money and a level of prestige. Our work product had a meaningful impact on our clients and companies. We had several weeks of vacation and could mostly put down work in the evenings but were always subject to meeting a deadline or extending ourselves on behalf of a client or management. The tradeoff was perpetual stress, little time and energy to pursue anything outside work, and little opportunity to tap or express our creativity or potential. We used to say we had a good work/life balance, which makes us laugh relative to where we are today.

I think many of our readers can connect with this lifestyle you had. It’s what many of us grew up hoping for, or being told we needed, and now people are getting a glimpse of what’s really possible. Tell us more about how life looks now?

Contrasting with how our lives have evolved since we resigned two years ago, we now work from wherever we are. For instance, we are answering these questions on our way to Costa Rica right now. We are free to set our own meetings/schedule, sleep in if we are exhausted or if we feel like it, we can be spontaneous. We don’t need to ask anyone’s permission. We have the time to cook our own meals instead of eating out incessantly, can carve out time to read a book, go on a hike, meditate. We are more fulfilled and connected to our spirit.  

Are there drawbacks or tradeoffs to how you live now? 

The tradeoff is we don’t make nearly as much money yet, don’t have the structure and security of the career life, so there’s more risk. We are off adventuring a lot, so we don’t have as much time to spend with family and friends, and we have to push ourselves constantly outside our comfort zone because we are figuring it out as we go. 

What’s been the best part of this shift for you that you feel is most rewarding?

We’ve taken full responsibility for our lives and decided that we want to create the life we want on our terms, and that shift to being the influential creators we are has been the most liberating. We didn’t realize how caged we were before we resigned, and we came to realize that the handle was on the inside.

How can people redesign their lives after they get more freedom from resigning? What are some of the things they can do? 

Whatever anyone decides to design their life around is personal and nuanced. This is similar to the reasons people resign- freedom, money, time with their loved ones, or having more prominence in their role and a seat at the table. It could also be for some its purpose/a more profound mission. For some, it’s to build something for themselves. The list goes on. We believe you really can do anything you want; not everything, but definitely anything. To make your “anything” actually happen, however, requires focused action-taking. Not necessarily precision action taking or timely action taking but focused action-taking.  

So it’s all about a personal journey to redefine priorities. And the first step, then, is intention?

It’s getting a “main thing,” a vision or a goal that is both inspired and inspiring to you, meaning it came from within you, and it’s important enough to you that it’s going to motivate you through challenges. Then, take your main thing and chunk it down into small steps that, when completed, give you momentum. And the key to success in anything is momentum.  

What if someone isn’t ready to take this giant leap? Is there a way people can enact change and balance work and overall life satisfaction? 

The journey doesn’t have to be wholesale life change kind of stuff. It can be small take-backs of your power that yield positive momentum for yourself – like demanding more flexibility in your schedule with your employer in the late afternoon so you can pick the kids up from school and go coach their soccer practice. If you provide value to your employer, then they likely will accommodate. And if not, then you know where you stand, and you can better assess whether your situation is worth the actual cost/benefit.  

Your movement is literally helping people break free. What do you see that holds them back and keeps them stuck?

Sometimes people feel like they need to know how to do something before they take action, or they have to have all their ducks in a row. With all this preparation perceived as necessary, we can get in a state of overwhelm, which leads to getting stuck and kicking it down the road. And aren’t you tired of kicking your heart down the road?   

That really creates a clear picture of what’s at stake here. How do you help people move forward to make this shift?

We practice the Ready, Fire, Aim principle, and we decide to keep making decisions. This keeps us moving in the direction of “anything.” Here’s a FUN fact for you. Redesigning your life doesn’t have to be complex. If you make the space for something you care deeply about and start putting your energy into it, it will appreciate. And what you enjoy appreciates.

Do people need to resign to buy back their lives?

No, if you’ve got something that’s serving you, and you remain open to bigger and better things, and you’re in an environment that supports you and your growth, then fantastic, why resign? That said, if you feel like the work you’re doing is diminishing, and it isn’t serving you for where you want to take your life, then resigning can become a viable solution to open up a space for the Universe to deliver something better for you. You just have to believe you’re worth it, and we know you are. 

Life can be more FUN like it is at Fire Up Nation when you hold an inspired vision from your heart and take focused action toward it. If you’re filling up your days like this, saying yes to yourself, and putting your faith and energy into it, then you just may never work another day in your life.

People are obviously connecting with your passion and your movement. You’re coming across folks all over in your travels who have answered the call of their inner voice, too. Share some highlights from stories of those you have met?

On our last trip in Sedona on the same day, we met a 40-something career corporate General Counsel who resigned from her successful career and is traveling the U.S. in a camper, and a 30-something former corporate HR manager who quit her job to take several months to explore fantastic locales in the U.S. and get back in touch with what she wants for her life. A traveling couple – – a digital nomad guy working for a startup and a nurse – – who are doing 6-month stints in different states around the U.S. Also some other examples of people we have met:

A mom who quit her job so she could homeschool her kids because she didn’t want them to have to wear masks at school all day and go through the regimentation brought on by COVID-19 policies.

A dad who arranged a more flexible schedule, so he has the afternoons off to pick his kids up from school and cook them dinner every night.

Healthcare employees who resigned because they refused mandates placed upon their employer and decided that their job is not worth going against what they consider to be in their best interest.

A 60-something woman who left her corporate career to start her own business empowering women.

Several people in their twenties live in a different country and work a contracting lifestyle as digital nomads. 

So is resigning really reinvigorating the hearts of the people in our country? Resigning is about people taking a stand for themselves and saying, “You know what, life is bigger than this box I’ve been put in at my job, I’m bigger than this box I’ve put myself in with my life and my choices, I want to see what happens when I roll the dice on myself once, and I am willing to have faith that what I can get is better than what I had before.” People are firing themselves up from the inside out on a global scale. The Great Reinvigoration is full steam ahead!

Fire Up Nation is a movement to ignite the human spirit and empower others to take action on the life they want to live.  Its founders, Reed Dennis and Graclyn Glazier, have been leading by example since February 2020, when they resigned from successful careers to pursue their dream to travel the world despite the unprecedented circumstances.  As they continue to travel everywhere from Costa Rica to Crete to Croatia and more, Reed and Graclyn are on a mission to spread light and love in the world by sharing their journeys to self-fulfillment and helping others to harness and direct their incredible power within. You can connect with them at www.FireUpNation.com and learn more about their Big Adventure life at www.BigAdventureLiving.com

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