Haven’t you heard? Here’s why everyone is ‘stepping back’

However the Harry and Meghan situation ends, "stepping back" is already set to be the buzzphrase of 2020. It captures the mood of the moment – like downsizing before it – and says everything you need to know about current priorities and attitudes.

Prince Harry and wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, sent shockwaves through the establishment when they announced they would step back from their royal roles.Credit:Getty

"We are Stepping Back" to spend more time with the children; to travel and see the world; to do more of the things we want to do and less of the things others expect. It's what's known as a progressive choice (also tipping "progressive" to be a big word of 2020), which is any choice that comes as a blindsiding shock to those concerned, but feels like it will benefit those choosing it.

Everyone's doing it. The Sussexes' recent Stepping Back is just a big example – with constitutional implications – of the Stepping Back we're all secretly thinking about, because we're worth it. (Warning: readers born before 1965 may not recognise any of this but, trust us, it's a thing and entirely normal if you are under 40.)

Here are some examples of Stepping Back:

  • from extended family responsibilities. Like, for example, instead of spending any festivities with all the grannies sitting around watching telly in paper hats, we head to a sexy hotel in a hot country where we can drink the wine we like, chilled to exactly the temperature we like, swim, do a bit of yoga. So much better for us.
  • from work. Just, really, avoiding the unhealthy stresses, even if that means not "stepping up", old-style. Stepping back in a work context is the next phase on from finding the right work-life balance, plus acknowledging that what you need to do to feel calm and content is more important than the fact that Janice is holding the fort, on her own, with a temperature, because everyone has got the flu.
  • from social media. Everyone is getting tired of the noise and the haters and the trolling and the noise, the Step Backers and Leaner-Inners.Loading
  • from our friends. Just not going out. Not going on gang holidays. Not rustling up big parties in the kitchen on a Friday night. Instead, going a bit capsule: a couple here and there. Maybe six at once, or four, not the previous 14 and counting.
  • from godparenting. (While we're on the subject, wonder if Harry has sent a note round to all his mates reassuring them that he is still the godparent-in-chief?) We want to be good godparents but we just haven't got the time to eke it out to 21 any more, especially now that we're not Stepping Back from our own children. When that happens in the new decade, we have no idea… When they're 35?

The Telegraph, London

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