By choosing to spend less time in paid employment, I am labelled as a “Down-shifter. I think Australian Institute think tank should think again.
The label ‘Down-shifter implies a process of moving down, and thereby misrepresents a positive life choice. After all, the only thing to go down is income. Quality of life, personal relationships, community participation and peace of mind (among many other things) all go up.
Those who apply labels to people must recognise that there is often a stigma attached to these labels. These labels can not only change a person self identification they can also change the way others see them. As such, labelling often separates people by highlighting our differences in a negative way.
For those you work long hours to create these labels, I suggest a long dogwalk or a day at the beach with friends. It may help them to shift their thinking.
First published a letter to The Age 13 January 2003.