5 Key Learnings from The Good Enough Job and How You Can Apply Them

Beatriz Boavida
Apr 16, 2024
9 min read

Too many people bring the best of themselves to work and bring the leftovers home. Esther Perel

Our jobs have become one of the most central parts of our lives, of our identities. So much so that if you ask someone to describe themselves, they probably start by telling you what they do for a living. And, likewise, when you are meeting someone for the first time, your first question will probably be “What do you do?”.

The space work is occupying in our identities has also led us on an endless quest for THE dream job, as it has become harder to separate our self-worth from our professional outcome.

The problem is such a quest may lead to unhappiness and stress, as it is unrealistic.

Simone Stolzoff delved deeply into this problem. Particularly, he looked into how work has become so central to our identities and how we can start separating our self-worth from what we do to be happier with our lives and our work.

He gathered all his insights in a book entitled “The Good Enough Job”. Stolzoff was inspired by the “Good Enough Parenting” theory by Donald Winnicott, a British paediatrician, who states that being enough is a better recipe for fulfilment than seeking to be perfect.

The main idea of The Good Enough Job is that we can be happy and fulfilled at any job if we reframe unrealistic expectations and rebalance our mindsets and lives. 

A ‘good enough’ job is not about settling for mediocrity; it’s about finding contentment and value in work that aligns with your current life situation. Simone Stolzoff

In this article, we are sharing the 5 key topics from Stolzoff’s book and how you can apply them to your reality.

Redefine success to incorporate wellbeing

Typically, we measure career success based on compensation (salary and benefits) or status (job title and prestige). But, as work is having a more central role in our lives, it is not just about the monetary reward anymore. 

We are looking to have enjoyable experiences at work. Hence, Stolzoff believes that it is time we start measuring professional success based on satisfaction, mental health, and work-life balance.

Success isn’t just what’s on your business card or bank statement. It’s about finding a rhythm in life that makes you feel alive and true to yourself. Simone Stolzoff

How to put it into practice

Redefining success is about bringing satisfaction and well-being to the centre of the stage. So here is what you can do:

  1. Look for a job that aligns with your values. Stolzoff observed that people are more satisfied with their work when it is aligned with what they believe, even if it means receiving a lower salary.

    It is important to clearly define and identify your values. Only then can you have an accurate idea if a certain job is aligned with who you are. Make this the step 1 of your journey.

    Then, you can assess your current job satisfaction in terms of how well it aligns with your values, interests, and desired work-life balance. When you have this clear picture in your mind, you can reflect on whether you should change jobs or simply make small adjustments to the way you work.

  2. Set healthy boundaries to build a work-life balance. Are you working to live or living for your work? Your work should not drain all your energy. It is crucial to prioritise your well-being. (We will explore this topic later on)

    Look to reduce mental overload and alleviate work-induced anxiety – for example, you do not have to be always reachable. 

Break down the myth of “the dream job”

There is no such thing as the dream job. 

And the problem with the continuous pursuit of this singular passion-driven job is that it can make us blind to the positives about our reality. When we are aiming to reach something unrealistic, we are never satisfied with our current reality. In this case, we tend to pinpoint and give disproportionate attention to everything negative about our current jobs – and that is exhausting

Thus, Stolzoff urges us to be flexible and realistic towards our career decisions.

The quest for a dream job often ends in the realisation that satisfaction comes not from the job title, but from the work itself and how it fits into your life. Simone Stolzoff

How to put it into practice

The dream job does not exist. So, here is how you can seize every work opportunity with contentment:

Learn to value what is “good enough”

It is ok to be ambitious. But our dreams should not come at the cost of our current contentment.

Stolzoff addresses this issue, urging us to reevaluate what it means to be content and fulfilled in our work. A job where we feel fulfilled is not a perfect job – it is simply a job that meets the most essential personal and professional needs.

If you make this shift in perception, you may realise that it can be easier than it seems to find contentment in your current role. The critical point is to find a good balance between ambition – where you want to be – and contentment – where you are now.

A ‘good enough’ job is not about settling for mediocrity; it’s about finding contentment and value in work that aligns with your current life situation. Simone Stolzoff

How to put it into practice

Here is how you can start accepting the just “enough”:

Set boundaries between work and personal life

If you want to achieve that work-life balance, you need to set healthy boundaries. 

With the developments in technology and our usage of it both for work and leisure, it is common for work and life to be merged. It is easy to stay “on” after we have finished work. Everyone and everything is at the distance of a click.

To be happier in our work, we need to foster a balance. We need to set boundaries that allow us time to rest, recover, and follow personal dreams and activities.

Setting boundaries is less about limiting and more about optimising the different aspects of your life.” – Simone Stolzoff

How to put it into practice

No one expects you to be available to work 24/7. Here are a few steps you can take to prioritise your well-being and build a balance between life and work:

Increase your adaptability in the workplace

The success of your career will be determined by how adaptable you are to the constantly changing market. Technologies are the top factor fostering the need to learn new skills and keep working on your personal and professional development.

Stolzoff argues you need to be open to acquiring new skills, embrace change, and be willing to take career turns when necessary. You need to remain flexible.

Your capacity to take on unexpected opportunities will be critical to your resilience and satisfaction in your career over the years.

In a world where change is the only constant, adaptability is not just a skill; it’s a survival trait. Simone Stolzoff

How to put it into practice

Here is how you can integrate change into your career plans:

Key takeaways

The Good Enough Job is all about dismantling the idea that we need to reach our biggest ambitions to be happy and fulfilled. According to Simone Stolzoff, any job can be a great job.

Here is what you need to keep in mind when it comes to finding joy in our work:

  1. Redefine what it means for you to be successful in your career. You should give more importance to factors like satisfaction, mental health, and work-life balance, compared to compensation and status.

  2. Acknowledge that there is no such thing as THE dream job. Set realistic expectations for your career and have flexible goals. Try to seize every opportunity that aligns with your values.

  3. Learn to value what is “good enough”. Ensure your job is meeting your needs and accept your job’s trade-offs. It will help to alleviate unnecessary stress.

  4. Set healthy boundaries. Define your working schedule and avoid work distractions when you are outside your work hours.

  5. Increase your adaptability in the workplace. Continue learning and expanding your skills and be flexible when planning out your career. Leave room for the unexpected.

It is up to you to start building a career that is enjoyable and energising 😉

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