More than three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, Jessica Kim’s life is very different from what it was before.
Kim is a mother of three and founder of Ianacare, a personal assistance platform; she also takes care of her aging father. She works hard, all the time.
But the tenor of her hard work has changed since 2020. Before, working late into the night and defining herself by her job title and what she produced was her norm. Now she’s no longer interested in taking one career step after another, “always up and right.”
She “always wants to go after something”, to be passionate. But that something should no longer be his career. Seeing her mother die and witnessing the death and illness of the last three years made her realize how important it was for her to change her priorities.
“My ambition now is that I want to live a meaningful life, rather than achieve the highest level of achievement in X, Y, Z, things,” Kim says. “I want to rest. I want to take care of myself. I want to drop everything and show up for my friend.
Courtesy of Jessica Kim
Since the launch of our ambition series, dozens of people have reached out to tell their stories. Yes they say Fortune, they still work hard, still have ambitions. But after living through a global pandemic, enduring social and political unrest, and dealing with runaway inflation, job losses and a possible recession, they have reassessed what is actually important to them. Although the headlines call for a “return to normal”, there is no return to their old selves.
Working hard only for the benefit of a company does not interest them. But working towards a long-held dream or for personal fulfillment does. In the face of constant illness, death and an increasingly difficult standard of living, it is no surprise that the view of the world and their place in it has changed for many people.
As a result, some lean out of the grind and into what Austin Kleon calls quiet ambition. “I don’t know what quiet surrender is, but I like the idea of quiet ambition,” said the author and artist recount Fortune. “I’m not so good at the grind anymore. What I would say I’m really good at is sticking around and sticking to the things that I’ve established in my own creative career.
It’s just one of the many ways some Americans have reinvented their relationship to work since the pandemic began. Some people find themselves prioritizing family, personal health, and free time over spending a few extra hours connected to work for looks. And others are still trying to find the right balance, living sweet lives while discovering what their quiet ambition is like.
“I’m not just a simple count”
For Kleon, quiet ambition takes the form of showing up in his studio day in and day out and creating art – “it’s not backbreaking work, it’s not a Herculean task”, he says. . For Kim, whose faith also plays a big part in her life, the quiet ambition is to make sure love is at the center of every decision she makes. And for Cristina Goyanes, it’s about looking beyond “the pursuit of success for success’s sake”.
In 2020, Goyanes was able to catch his breath for the first time in over a decade. Previously a freelance journalist and editor, she took advantage of the “break” to fulfill her long-held dream of entrepreneurship.
The 42-year-old co-founded Revel Digital Collective, a brand editorial agency, along with two other women, and the decision changed her life. She now focuses on nurturing long-term relationships and contracts, without necessarily working at the breakneck pace inherent in the media, her former industry.
At the same time, chasing her dream also allows her ambition to blossom as she steps into the new role of leading a successful business. She finds that grinding does not equal success.
“I did the job. Now I won’t stop doing the work, but I can do it with a different intensity,” she says. “The drive is still there, (but) it’s a little quieter than before.”
When her father was diagnosed with cancer in 2022, Goyanes found herself in a caretaker role and was grateful to have the opportunity to attend her doctor’s appointments and chemo treatments without being punished. professionally. Before, she was perhaps more concerned with meeting deadlines; now she could put her father first.
For Goyanes, the changes she has made in recent years are the start of a new chapter in her life. She is delighted to write history day after day. In a culture that values constant grind, wealth when young, and short-term results over long-term success, quiet ambition can be quietly revolutionary.
“The pandemic has allowed us to be seen as humans,” she says. “Before the pandemic, it was clear that we were just a squad. Now that has changed. I’m not just a workforce, I’m a human, I’m a whole person.
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