Making Peace with a Good Enough Job

Lisa Earle McLeod
3 min readMay 24

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Is your current job your dream job? If you’re like most people….probably not. Maybe there are parts of your job you don’t particularly enjoy, like granular reporting or clunky systems. Perhaps you actively dislike other elements, like an overbearing manager or inefficient coworkers.

When a job isn’t everything we want it to be, there’s a temptation to treat it like a stepping stone. Sometimes we view it as temporary. Or at worse, we hang our heads every day, feeling like we aren’t working up to our potential.

This morning, I heard about a new book coming out called The Good Enough Job: Reclaiming Life from Work.

I’ll confess, ‘good enough’ is the antithesis of my nature. That’s probably why I should read the book. This is the passage that first captured my attention:
From the moment we ask children what they want to “be” when they grow up, we exalt the dream job as if it were life’s ultimate objective. Many entangle their identities with their jobs, with predictable damage to happiness, wellbeing, and even professional success.

I’ve had career ambitions my entire life. For me, the constant drumbeat of the “next step” is ever-present pounding, beating into my head, decade after decade. Sadly, I’ve let ‘perfection’ be the enemy of ‘great’ many times, and in doing so cost myself peace and happiness in the process. The author continues-

Rather than treat work as a calling or a dream, (author) Simone Stolzoff asks what it would take to reframe work as a part of life rather than the entirety of our lives. What does it mean for a job to be good enough?

I don’t know precisely how to accept a job as ‘good enough’- the book doesn’t come out for another month. But the opening text sure got me thinking about why we should reclaim life from work.

Here are some reasons I’ve seen play out lately:

  • You are not in control at work. Even if you’re the CEO. People get fired, market conditions change, and sometimes even well-run companies go belly-up. When the fabric of your identity is intertwined with a P&L, you leave yourself incredibly emotionally exposed.
  • Boundaries aren’t what they used to be. With your email in your pocket, there’s a temptation (sometimes even expectation) to be always on. Work quickly goes from being part of your life to your whole life.
  • The landscape is changing rapidly. (Mostly) gone are the days of a linear career trajectory. Your “dream job” might not exist in 10 years. And if you spend the next 9 years chasing it, that’s going to be a devastating realization. Focusing on the present enables you to be excited about the future, instead of fearing the metaphorical ticking clock.

The sum of this shouldn’t be an invitation to keep your emotional cards close to your chest; you should still be all-in at work. But remember: A company will never love you back. My business partner Elizabeth just got back from maternity leave. She shared with me some advice she got upon her return — be where your feet are.

When you’re at work, be all in. And when you’re at home, be all in, too.

I get it; I’m Ms. Noble Purpose. I absolutely believe work should be a meaningful, challenging, and fun experience.

But it shouldn’t be everything.

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Lisa Earle McLeod

Lisa is an advisor, consultant, and speaker who works with senior executives and sales teams around the world. She is the author of five bestselling books.