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Taking a step into the slow lane

By CNN's Jim Boulden

Take steps to make the transition to downshifting smoother.
Would you consider giving up your job to spend more time with family and on other pursuits?
Global Office

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The dream of quitting a career in the fast lane for a more balanced, lifestyle-friendly job -- known as downshifting -- does not always work out as planned.

Julie Hurst of the Work-Life Balance Center says the key to successful downshifting is to use work skills to enhance other parts of your life.

Several would-be downshifters cut out too much of their old life in the transition, which is where things often go wrong, she says.

The two parts of the old life that are most commonly missed, she says, are having an income and a work-related social network.

Another common error is to simply move the old life to a new destination, which can also be problematic, she says.

"They'll jet off to the other side of the world where they will then continue to hold down two jobs and do exactly the same thing -- admittedly, probably with a warmer climate, and maybe with a nicer view," Hurst says.

"And if that's all they wanted, that's great. But most people don't solve the problem. And the problem starts internally, it's the psychology of it."

Two years ago Jeremy Hawkins downshifted from London's financial district, where he had worked for 23 years, to a home-based life.

He spends his newfound spare time fishing, socializing, bringing up his baby and helping his wife out with her catering business.

"It's a whole new ball game," he says.

Doctors Andrew Pittaway and Freya Evans have spent 2004 trekking through South America and sailing in Asia.

Evans says taking time out has been easy for the pair because they have always had varied lives.

"It's not as if our careers are the main thing in our life. We've both got a lot of other interests, and a lot of other things we enjoy doing," she says.

Pittaway says they will soon be ready to return to the workplace; in mid-August they will be in Ghana working for a medical charity.

"Although it felt good, I am starting to feel a little as if I ought to be doing something slightly more constructive than what I have been doing for the past six or seven months," he says.

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