March 2020. First containment. A baccalaureate 5 in Media and Communication in his pocket, Maxime Frechet finds himself, in the midst of a pandemic, faced with difficulties of integration into the job market. “Alone at home doing nothing, my only toy was my brain. I told myself that it was the right time to mature my thoughts”, explains today the young man of 25 years, now at the head of a digital marketing agency in Saône-et-Loire, created a year ago. “The Covid has given birth to a vocation and it’s great!”, He exclaims. Whether it’s to start a business, start a career change, change jobs, move or even change your romantic relationship, this moment of obligatory break has triggered a multitude of life changes.

Proof of this is the Histoires de crises platform, launched by the COVID 19 Ad Memoriam Institute, where the testimonies of French people marked by the pandemic are collected. “Its main impact has been to redefine our relationship to time by allowing many people to slow down and revisit their life priorities”, explains the anthropologist and president of the Institute, Laëtitia Atlani-Duault, who considers this tipping point as an “anthropological break”. “I will not be able to go back”, even declares Maxime Frechet, happy to have understood what is essential for him and what will remain so: “The journey was long but life-saving.”

The common point between all the people who, like Maxime, have started a change of life following the Covid? The happiness of having started. “I have gained serenity. I can tell myself that I have a life that suits me,” also rejoices Jonathan Munoz, now a recruitment consultant for the Mercato de l’Emploi in Charente, and on his own. “At the time, I was like, ‘If you don’t do it, you might regret it,’ he says. “I didn’t want to ask myself that question, so I followed this motto: ‘ Go there and you’ll see'”. With the Covid, it was now or never. So, after twelve years as director of the cabinet of the mayor of Cognac – and while he was tipped to be his new dolphin, Jonathan Munoz is embarking on his business project. For life coach Oriane Savouré-Lucas, who helps her clients on a daily basis to deploy their projects, “the Covid has shattered benchmarks and certainties. There was a mirror effect and a magnifying glass effect: people looked at each other and many measured this need to live better without waiting but taking into account their desires of the moment”. Do not wait for the CDI, do not wait for the children grow up, don’t wait for retirement…

In addition to the satisfaction of having dared, those concerned say they feel capable, as confirmed by Oriane Savouré-Lucas: “By making these changes, they choose to take over the reins and it is extremely nourishing because it rekindles the flame”. “I get up every morning smiling. I feel alive growing my business. It’s a personal accomplishment,” exults Maxime Frechet, mentioning the recent acquisition of premises and his wish to earn a salary soon. Like him, many people are trying to give new impetus to their work: according to an Elabe barometer for Unedic published in December, 58% of active workers currently in employment have at least one professional change project. “From now on, it is a question of starting from oneself and weaving a tailor-made suit according to the desires of the moment”, illustrates Oriane Savouré-Lucas.

When Vivian Battoni, her husband and their three-and-a-half-year-old daughter left Lyon for a small town in the Ardèche, leaving traffic jams and pollution behind them, the aim was to maintain a certain tranquility. “The priority is not to shield our agenda. We no longer have our eyes on the watch all the time”, he explains from the workshop where he sews organic women’s lingerie for his brand. launched six months ago before listing the advantages: “I no longer go to pick up my daughter at the last minute at the crèche, I can take her to see her father on construction sites and I have been able to resume dancing twice per week…” In addition to seeing his daughter grow up, he enjoys more with her husband: “In Lyon, we felt like we were parents, there we are also a couple”, he declares, relaxed.

Time to do “better rather than too much”, in the words of Oriane Savouré-Lucas, this is also what Ludovic Brossy gained by moving to the Lot after twenty years on the Côte d’Azur. He is one of the 11% of French people to have changed residence in 2021, according to the barometer Les movers bretons, with the IFOP Institute. This year, 13% are also considering taking the plunge. Occitania, where Ludovic Brossy is from, is currently the second region that attracts the most “neo-rurals”. In his singsong accent, the 50-year-old says how happy he is to see his three children raised in the countryside, even if “financially, it was not a great operation”. The telecom equipment manufacturer and his wife, an English teacher who no longer works while waiting for his transfer, have lost two thirds of their joint income, not to mention the 25,000 euros in savings budgeted for this change of life. But for him, it doesn’t matter: “This experience reminded us of the important things. We no longer work like donkeys to pay for stuff. We work and then we enjoy, that’s all,” he says.

Others, on the contrary, have seen their workload increase. Six days a week, Stéphanie Holleville travels 45 kilometers to get to her shoe repair shop in Blois. Her daughter stays with her grandparents. “Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to set up my own business,” says the 36-year-old single mother, who has owned her shop since September 2021. While the former waitress admits “giving a lot of [her] time to the store “, she says to herself “very happy to have found [her] way”, sacrifices included.

“There are those who have launched and are delighted and those who have taken a cold shower and need to reshuffle their cards to build the rest of the project, Oriane Savouré-Lucas tempers however before noting: “Changing your life takes time. time. My current clients arrive with questions that have been tormenting them since March 2020″. Two years later, *Thibault is still looking for his way. After 20 years as an editorial secretary in a newspaper, he thought he had found the human and the concrete he was looking for by becoming a school teacher. But after graduating, he felt helpless in class and wanted to cut it short. He is currently on sick leave and has just applied to his old company. ” There is sometimes this illusion that if we change jobs, place of residence or spouse, then everything will be better”, warns Oriane Savouré-Lucas. And when this is not the case, a feeling of failure can be born: “Am I going to manage to find my place somewhere?”, Thibault often asks himself. However, despite the vagueness in which he is still swimming, he has no regrets. “I am happy to have crossed the step, if I had to do it again, I would do it again,” says the 41-year-old man.

A change of life sometimes misunderstood by the close entourage. “My parents still don’t understand”, deplores *Nadine, who decided, in September 2020, to throw her life out of the way. Since then, she has sold her shares in her lawyer’s firm, her villa by the sea and her SUV in favor of real estate investment, a house half the size and a more modest car: “I live differently, but it’s much more in tune with who I am,” said the 46-year-old. On condition of ignoring the gaze of others: “With my husband, we are a little ashamed to enjoy like that”, she admits. But anthropologist Laëtitia Atlani-Duault remains confident: “These changes will perhaps lead to a valuation of risk-taking and the possibility of failure as a way of learning and bouncing back. Especially since today, those able to do so may not be representative of the French population. Many of those who plan it live in economic, family and geographical realities that prevent them from doing so in the short term. So I think that these changes are not have not finished setting themselves up”.