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downshifting illustrationLiving in a fast-paced world requires an individual to spend colossal amounts of energy every day. A regular western person spends a lot of time being in traffic jams (which is even worse for those who do not own a car), works in an air-conditioned office for at least eight hours a day, is in traffic jams again to get home, pays numerous loans, taxes, and so on. This is stressful, and not all people can withstand such pressure every day. Therefore, some of them choose an alternative way of life: they quit their jobs or businesses or at least decrease the amount of daily work, move away from big cities to rural areas, or sometimes change their occupations dramatically. This is called life downshifting, and recently this movement has been steadily gaining popularity around the world.

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Let us take a closer look at a downshifter. Who is he or she? Regardless of gender, a downshifter is generally a person who prefers the quality of his or her personal life over material goods, career, and other popular values. A downshifter may voluntarily reduce his or her work hours—meaning he or she also gives up a significant sum of his or her salary—in order to have more time for family, friends, hobbies, or other occupations; a downshifter may also choose to limit his or her consumption in order to save more money. Sometimes such people even quit their jobs, change companies, careers, or even specialties and occupations in general, if the amount of stress they deal with are too much for them to withstand (HubPages).

There are two main types of downshifters, if any classification can be applied in this case: downscalers, and mold melters ( Downscalers are those who want to slow down: they decide to work less, earn less, and stress out less as well. In turn, mold melters are more radical: they want to break out of corporate culture. Whereas downscalers do not mind working in companies and/or businesses and seek for a more relaxed pace, mold melters are, generally speaking, those people who quit their positions and move to rural areas to live off the land.

Downscaling is a sort of rational revision of a person’s consumption rates, a reevaluation of what a person earns and consumes. Rather often, people race for incomes to keep buying things they do not need, or do something they do not have to do. For example, an office worker who stays at their workplace extra hours, does not take days off, works hard and responsibly to earn a salary—and spends his or her free money to buy a new iPad and a car, even though they have several such things already. A downscaler would exclude ubiquitous consumption, calculate the amount of work needed to sustain his or her needs, and enjoy a less stressful life free of the race for achievements. A person who consciously chooses public transport over a car, camps locally instead of travelling to the Bahamas, for instance, and chooses a less-paid job with a more flexible schedule in order to dedicate more time to family can be called a downscaler (IFR).

Mold melting is what the majority of people probably sees downshifting as. Imagine you are a salaryman whose work is to write reports, send emails, and do other boring tasks; deep inside, however, you have always dreamed of becoming an artist, owning a studio and living on the sales of your own art. In this case, you have three options: keep working at your current job because it is stable and familiar; keep working, but try to allocate some time for your hobbies; or, you can act as a mold melter: quit your job and do your best to become an artist. The most famous mold melter of all times was, perhaps, the ancient Roman emperor Diocletian, who once resigned his post and moved to a village to grow cabbages.

This does not mean, however, that mold melters are impulsive weirdos. A person who wants to downshift this way will most likely revise their consumption, but in a much more radical way than a downscaler. A future mold melter will create an extensive and detailed plan of how to sustain themselves on minimum wages or savings for a period of time before they can start living on what they want to do. Mold melting is a responsible approach to shifting from one paradigm to another (IFR).

Downshifting is an alternative way of living for people who are too tired to maintain a contemporary, stressful life. Some people feel they want to slow down the pace of their lives, look around, dedicate more time to whom or what they love; others dream of radical changes, a total reset of lifestyle and career. In any case, downshifting is steadily becoming a trend, and if you feel like your current work and life is too much for you to take, you might want to consider some form of downshifting.


Fergusson, Kymberly. “Downshifting—How to Achieve Work Life Balance.” HubPages. N.p., 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

“Downshifting, a Social and Economic Phenomena.” N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

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