3 October 2023

When the Grass is Never Quite Green Enough

Start the conversation

Everyone loves the idea of working in their dream job, but Lisa Earle McLeod warns the constant search for what might turn into a mirage can lead to frustration and disappointment.

Is your current job your dream job? If you’re like most people it’s 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 co-workers.

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.

I have just heard about a new book coming out soon 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 a passage from the promotion for the book 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, costing me peace and happiness in the process.

The promotion 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 hasn’t come out yet.

However, the opening text 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 Chief Executive, you can still get fired; market conditions can change, and sometimes even well-run organisations falter.

When the fabric of your identity is intertwined with where you work, you leave yourself emotionally exposed.

Boundaries aren’t what they used to be: With your smartphone 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 — so if you spend the next nine years chasing it, that’s going to be a devastating realisation.

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.

However, remember this: An organisation 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.

*Lisa Earle McLeod is the leadership expert best known for creating the popular business concept Noble Purpose. She is the author of Selling with Noble Purpose and Leading with Noble Purpose. She can be contacted at mcleodandmore.com.

This article first appeared on Lisa’s blogsite

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.