Millions of Britons dream of quitting the rat race

May 11 2007 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Millions of Britons want to quit the rat race by the time they reach their mid 40s and devote the last two decades of their working lives to more compassionate careers.

As Tony Blair announced his resignation at the age of 54, a study for insurance company Norwich Union found that more that than half of Britons want to turn their backs on their careers and put satisfaction before success.

This new career trend, dubbed 'Zenployment', could leave Britain's employers facing a rash of resignations from forty-something employees looking for a more fulfilling second career, the research warned.

In all, a resounding two-thirds of those surveyed said that they felt unfulfilled, miserable or drifting in their jobs, and half claimed that they would be happy to earn less money doing something that made them feel better about themselves.

William Nelson, of trend analysts the Future Foundation, said: "This research is further evidence that we're entering a new era, with a society that is less selfish and increasingly focussed on personal fulfilment.

"In fact, rising affluence and high employment levels mean most of us now feel pretty secure in providing for our basic needs, especially once we are established in careers and the housing market.

"The ethical and spiritual dimensions of work therefore are more of a priority, and people want to believe their careers contribute towards a better future - not just for themselves but for society as a whole"

With more than a quarter saying that making a difference to others was top of their second career agendas - twice the number who want to make money - animal welfare work, counselling, charity work, gardening and alternative therapy feature high on the list of vocations featuring on the list of second careers being planned.

The poll of 1,200 people also found that the embarking on a second career isn't something that happens on the spur of the moment, with people tending to take an average of nine years to plan their exit from the rat race having started think about doing so from the age of just 36.

Two thirds of those aged 45-54, and seven out of 10 over 55s said that they are seeing an increasing number of their friends choosing the path of Zenployment and moving into second careers.

Simon Quick, who led the study at Norwich Union, said: "Once we dreamed of retirement to a country cottage or villa abroad, but this research reveals British workers now aim to do something that offers them fulfilment in the second stage of their lives.

"That clearly has a major impact on our financial planning, and those hoping to downsize to perhaps less lucrative, but more compassionate careers, need to consider now how they can finance that life change."

Older Comments

it is the same in every country. I ended up hating my job so much i posted on and i felt a lot better. People even reply back to me with their own stories which are really nice to hear. I then decided to go on a working holiday around Australia and managed to get a job from this same site as they have casual jobs too. Management issues and are doing a really good job of supporting from the ground up so thank you!!

Kate London

I just had this same conversation with my sister in Kenya, Africa. Many of us today are driven by social missions rather than financial missions. Unlike previous generations which majored in long-term employment, our generation desires long-term deployment. People want to feel like they are pursuing their true destiny rather than a fleeting occupation that serves no bigger purpose. It's a global trend.

Herman Najoli Cincinnati, OH

I'm 27 and I want to move into something more fullfilling, and I have been planning an escape for a few years already! Money get's you nowhere really, once you have what you require for your basic needs.