My first encounter with the concept of "pootling" was through a recent article in The Telegraph. Radhika Sanghani described how British Millennial women stopped pursuing high-paid positions in favor of "pootling along sideways." For those unfamiliar with the term, as I was, to "pootle" is to roam or wander. You won't find it in the unabridged Merriam-Webster, but in the online urban dictionary.
For most women today, especially Millennial women, career has been redefined. As Thom and Jess Rainer discovered through their research in The Millennials: Connecting to America's Largest Generation, women want a healthy work/life balance that respects family and friends as priorities. They want to work where it makes a difference and to ensure their organizations contribute to society. They want to integrate career and calling into a lifework that supports and encourages lateral, life-stage development over traditional ladder climbing.
Having raised four children while pursuing a career during the era of trying to do it all, the concept of pootling sideways would have defined me as the dreaded underachiever. By nature, I am intense and have much to learn about wandering. My idea of exploring the Rocky Mountains was a 10-day backpacking trip into Canada, hiking to a 10,000-foot elevation with four children under the age of 15 (all with their own backpacks—everyone had to carry their own food and shelter), a soon-to-be second husband, and a sawed-off toothbrush (to minimize weight).1