They have chosen not to work more

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One day, they said : It is finished, I’ll stop ! The subway, the job and the life that goes with it : they have left everything behind to reinvent themselves. Neither retired nor unemployed, are they really happier than before ? What barriers have they encountered, what did they have to give up ? They tell their stories.

Sylvain Michelet
– Updated on February 15, 2019 at 13:04


Decide not to work anymore, while there is unemployment, the fear of losing his job, running the job search ? For many of us, this would be unthinkable. Some, however, have made this choice. They have not taken this decision on a whim or by a dislike of their profession, but to adopt another mode of life, devote themselves to other activities, sometimes more stakeholders : raise children, make art, build a house, to live differently, out of the system… How much are they ? Go figure ! They are classified in the French statistics, among the four million six hundred thousand inactive of working age ” – women in the home to a large majority. Neither students, nor pensioners, nor unemployed, they are defined as ” not working and not seeking work (In fewer inactive between the end of the studies and the retirement age) “. Not all of the annuitants no winners of the Lotto, they have reduced their spending, and generally live with a salary for two, or allowances, or in the community, and say they are satisfied with it. Sometimes even be won… in quality of life, in consistency with themselves.

Change of priorities

Yet, today, going to work, it is exist. Thus, “what is it that you do in life ?” is ” the ” question that is ritually during a first meeting. These few words – and the fact that everyone understands as soon as they relate to the work ! – show how we have integrated the idea that employment is the source of our identity, and the key to an independent life and fulfilling. “It is important not to underestimate the interest of the corporate life, confirms the coach, and consultant Jean-Daniel Remond. The daily contacts, the networks, the friendships, the sharing of the activities, the feeling of being useful within the society, but also the encounter with our limitations, and the pleasure that is born to exceed, all of this helps to forge our personality and, in this sense, contributes largely to the formation of our identity. “

Thus, willy-nilly, the job remains the privileged ground of the fulfilment of the potentialities and the realization of self. According to the surveys, it is more than ever, for the French, the second value after the family. Break with the life of “productive” is not only a question of material resources : on this point, the answer is simple (it may or it may not) – some, like Françoise (read more below), and new follower of the decay, are ready for great sacrifices. The question focuses on the ability to build a new identity, a new me, out of work.

“I get more people who want to change their career, but the choice to stop altogether corresponds to the same process,” says the coach Pierre Blanc-Sahnoun, author of The Art of coaching (oxford university press). It comes out of a cultural model agreed, as prescribed, to enter into an individual process of redefining his life : what kind of person we want to be, what do we want to achieve or accomplish, have or be, valuing and honouring ? This reflects a desire to leave a dominant identity – where the job defines the person – to express an identity that is preferred – via an activity in agreement with the direction that one wants to give to his life and the values that we want to say. One passes from the employment imposed on the activity desired. It is, therefore, a choice of identity all the more important that it often leads to criticism and misunderstanding. “

Support prejudices



Return the work to its rightful place of Catherine Viot and Luce Janin-Devillars
Crisis, delocalization, flexibility… The recent developments are a threat to our benchmarks. In the Face of these changes, often sustained, a journalist and a psychoanalyst, we explain how to regain control of our professional lives (Hachette pratique, 2009).

It is especially through the eyes of others that problems arise, as noted by Jean-Robert in the face of his banker, who cannot be seen even more. Against the feeling of becoming ” transparent “, the strength of the torque and the support of loved ones reveal their determinants. But, to avoid the remarks or reviews from their friends, some feel forced to pretend that they are still working. Others, on the contrary, assume to be marginalized in the name of their values – as Claude (read more below), who has decided to dedicate themselves to a man to the contempt of the feminist views. Still others counter-attack : for them, a lot of people work by conformism, thus avoiding to work on themselves. Across the Atlantic, where unemployment is rampant, and we even went so far as to create a new word ( funemployment) to proclaim the desire to take advantage of the “lack of employment” (unemployment) in order to take the “good time” (fun). All insist : if they don’t “work” any more, they are activated more, and rather better than ever.

Expression of an identity ” favorite “, a reflection on oneself, the affirmation of other criteria : the “value work” would she be in danger, a victim of the pursuit of personal development ? The debate remains open, but our witnesses have shown, to assume, without resort to its choice can, despite the difficulties, lead to discoveries on self-esteem, and a true renewal.

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