Would you rather: good enough or dream job?

Posted on Sep 6, 2023

“In the United States, how we make money has become shorthand for who we are.”

Oof. I recently finished The Good Enough Job by Simone Stolzoff, which was recommended to me by midwestern author and cancer survivor Serenity Bohon. So many takeaways!

TL;DR: Work used to be a simple exchange of labor for money. Now, to the extreme benefit of employers, work has morphed into an economic system and social philosophy that is literally killing us.

Now was the perfect time for me to read this book. After 14 months back in the fast-paced world of tech startups, I was laid off in late July. The culture that this book examines helped illustrate why my first few weeks of unexpected unemployment were tougher than I expected.

Our first question with new folks is most often, What do you do? For the most part, I’m not earning money. So… what DO I do?!

Yes, I’m aware of all that I am outside of a job title. I know that we, as the asker, don’t really care how our new friends make money—we want to know what lights them up. But still, there’s a big, scary implication to this habitual question. As Stolzoff puts it, “A person is [believed to be] as valuable as their output.”

So he recommends a tiny tweak. Instead, when meeting new people, ask them, What do you like to do?

Your new opening line: What do you like to do?

Another part that stood out to me was this quote he shares from psychotherapist Esther Perel: “Too many people bring the best of themselves to work, and take the leftovers home.”

If you’re feeling dissatisfied with your work life, all is not lost. Stolzoff advises, “For those of us lucky enough to choose how work fits into our lives, the most important thing is that we actively make a choice. If we don’t, work can expand like a gas and fill any available space.

Ain’t that the truth?

PS Come see me next Saturday 9/16 at the Papillion Book Fest! You can buy My TLC Journal, pre-order I Killed Mom and Other Lies, and enter to win an Omaha-themed prize. Plus, meet 60 other local authors spanning all genres: kids’ lit (like these amazing Enneagram books), fiction (I’m currently enjoying this book by Ted Wheeler), romance, sci-fi, poetry, nonfiction… There will be food trucks and walkable shops for lunch, then a fascinating talk about The Women Who Built Omaha.

PC William Fortunato