10 Takeaways - The Good Enough Job & Workism

BL00 - 10 Takeaways - The Good Enough Job & Workism

By The Mindful Leader Team

Caught in a whirlwind of work idealization, many are on a quest for the quintessential job. In a recent interview with Onpoint’s Meghna Chakrabarti, Simone Stolzoff discussed his new book “The Good Enough Job” and offered ten insights into our understanding of work, suggesting that a subtle shift in perception could unlock the doors to more enriched living.

  1. Shattering the Perfection Illusion: Stolzoff drew an analogy between our work idolization and mid-20th-century parenting patterns observed by psychologist D.W. Winnicott. He underscored the pitfalls of relentlessly pursuing the elusive 'perfect' job, akin to parents attempting to cocoon their children from all adversities.
  2. Embracing the "Good Enough" Philosophy: Borrowing from Winnicott's "Good Enough Parent" concept, Stolzoff introduced the notion of a "Good Enough Job." He suggested that an approach prioritizing adequacy over perfection could set the stage for healthier work outcomes.
  3. Understanding the Relativity of "Good Enough": The "good enough" job, Stolzoff posits, is a subjective concept, hinging on individual priorities—be it the paycheck, work-life balance, or industry preferences.
  4. Exploring Identity Beyond Profession: The recognition of having a "good enough" job liberates energy for life outside work. He underlined that a job is just one facet, not the entire construct of one's identity.
  5. Investing in Self-Interest Diversification: Stolzoff championed the idea of channeling investments into different areas of self-interest, comparing it to diversifying an investment portfolio. He contends that multiple interest sources could spur innovation, and creativity, and form a more stable life foundation.
  6. Navigating Through Identity Shifts: Several audience members chimed in with personal narratives of locating value outside their jobs. Their stories underscored evolving identities and the wisdom that comes with time.
  7. Harmonizing Time and Energy: Regarding concerns about time scarcity, Stolzoff pointed out that creating a meaningful existence beyond work doesn't have to involve grand gestures. Instead, it can begin with modest, achievable steps that progressively pave the way to a more well-rounded life.
  8. The Power of Social Safety Nets: Stolzoff drew attention to policies like the universal basic income (UBI), asserting that robust social safety nets could mitigate the harsh aftermath of job loss and offer people more opportunities to leave unsatisfying jobs.
  9. Shifting the Social Conversation on Work: Instead of the traditional "What do you do?" Stolzoff proposed a slight shift to "What do you like to do?" This subtle tweak allows individuals to express themselves beyond their work.
  10. Delights of Personal Pursuits: To drive home his point, Stolzoff revealed his love for being a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur, indulging in pickup basketball games, and his passion for writing. This personal touch served as a reminder that beyond our professional commitments, there lies an exhilarating world to be discovered.

In wrapping up, the dialogue with Stolzoff injects a breath of fresh air into our perceptions of work and identity, urging us to yearn for sufficiency rather than perfection. His insights underscore the importance of diversifying interests, bolstering social safety nets, and most significantly, the redefinition of ourselves beyond the confines of our professions.

Workism and Mindfulness 

Workism, a relatively new societal concept that elevates work from a means of sustenance to personal identity and source of spiritual fulfillment, is garnering increased attention in the context of modern professional life. The trend, with its roots embedded in the evolution from manufacturing to knowledge and service-based industries, is further amplified by technological advancements that blur the boundaries between work and personal time. Such an environment imposes significant pressure on individuals to seek validation, purpose, and accomplishment primarily from their professional endeavors, often sidelining other essential aspects of life like family, relationships, leisure, and most importantly, mental health.

In the first part of this article, we explored the rising trend of work idolization and how it impacts our relationship with productivity. The term 'workism' gives this concept a name, providing an additional lens to view the cultural shift where work is increasingly becoming the center of our lives. As work's role expands, affecting self-worth and personal fulfillment, it's easy to lose sight of one's identity outside the professional sphere. This dynamic is where mindfulness can serve as a significant ally, offering a potent countermeasure to workism's impacts.

Mindfulness, by its core philosophy, emphasizes present-moment awareness and engagement without judgment, offering a robust response to workism. However, mindfulness within the realm of workism presents a paradox. On one hand, it could provide a balance to workism, helping individuals disentangle from work's grip, thereby nurturing mental space to relish other aspects of life. On the other hand, there is a risk of organizations misusing mindfulness as a mere tool to boost productivity and further feed the beast of workism, a stark deviation from its original intent. The true essence of mindfulness extends beyond enhancing workplace efficiency; it is about improving life's quality. The challenge lies in ensuring its implementation genuinely bolsters overall well-being instead of inadvertently promoting the dominance of workism.


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