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    The Myth of the Dream Job | Simone Stolzoff

    Passion should not overshadow fair pay, workplace protections, and job security. It is essential to build skills, invest in expertise, and define personal definitions of success.

    enSeptember 04, 2023

    About this Episode

    Balancing happiness and ambition is a challenge, especially if you often define yourself by your work. Stolzoff covers why it’s good to have a job that’s simply good enough.


    Simone Stolzoff is the author of The Good Enough Job: Reclaiming Life from Work. He is a designer and workplace expert from San Francisco, and a former design lead at the global innovation firm IDEO. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and many other publications. He is a graduate of Stanford and The University of Pennsylvania.


    In this episode we talk about:


    • His argument for diversifying our sources for what makes a meaningful life 
    • How passion for your job shouldn’t be a stand-in for pay or security 
    • And how to balance the pursuit of meaningful work without letting it take over your life



    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/tph/podcast-episode/simone-stolzoff

    See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Striving for a perfect job can be detrimental. Instead, valuing sufficiency and diversifying our sources of identity can lead to greater contentment and fulfillment in both work and life.
    • It is important to find fulfillment in various aspects of life beyond just our careers, as relying solely on our jobs for identity and meaning can lead to disappointment and neglecting other important parts of our lives.
    • Having varied hobbies and interests outside of work enhances creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills, and finding a balance between work and personal life is crucial for overall fulfillment.
    • To find fulfillment, it is essential to invest time and energy in relationships, hobbies, and community engagement, allowing individuals to define themselves beyond their jobs.
    • Embrace your worth beyond your job and focus on defining yourself through your inherent characteristics, finding fulfillment in various aspects of your life. Avoid placing unnecessary pressure on others based on their careers.
    • By engaging in activities and communities outside of work and embracing various identities, we can find fulfillment beyond professional achievements, leading to greater happiness and resilience in our careers.
    • To find fulfillment beyond work, question the value placed on it and explore other institutions that bring meaning. Actively pursue passions and interests outside of career for a more balanced life.
    • Disconnect from work, engage in activities that bring joy, and prioritize personal fulfillment to enhance overall well-being and satisfaction.
    • Focus on what genuinely motivates and brings pleasure, invest in things that matter to you, and derive joy and satisfaction from your actions rather than seeking validation from others.
    • Prioritizing personal interests and connecting with the "why" behind our work can lead to greater satisfaction, but it's important to recognize that following our passion may not be accessible to everyone and can increase inequality.
    • Passion should not overshadow fair pay, workplace protections, and job security. It is essential to build skills, invest in expertise, and define personal definitions of success.
    • Understanding the impact of external circumstances and clarifying personal values can help individuals find work that aligns with their vision of fulfillment and success.
    • While fostering a family-like environment at work can increase engagement, it's important to recognize the distinctions between work and family dynamics. Employers should prioritize employees' well-being and prevent burnout.
    • Taking breaks and allowing time for rest and rejuvenation is essential for sustainable productivity and fostering innovation in the modern work environment.
    • Companies must prioritize building meaningful connections between employees and designing programs that work well for everyone, whether in-person or remote. Additionally, implementing minimum vacation policies and promoting salary transparency can contribute to a fairer and more successful workplace.
    • Companies should value work-life balance, respect individual preferences, and avoid pressuring employees to bring their whole selves to work. Encouraging personal growth, providing options for self-care, and supporting side hustles can contribute to a more balanced and fulfilling work environment.
    • Managers should practice what they preach by modeling a healthy work-life balance, using tools like scheduled email sends, to create a culture that respects boundaries and promotes employee well-being.
    • Prioritize meaningful work and consider exploring a different environment with different values to broaden perspectives and potentially adopt new values. Finding a balance between work and personal life can be difficult, especially in a culture that emphasizes productivity and self-worth.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    Embracing Sufficiency and Finding Fulfillment in Work and Life

    Adopting a mindset of valuing sufficiency, rather than striving for perfection, can lead to more fulfillment and happiness in the long run. Just like in parenting, where striving for perfection can be detrimental to both the child and the parent, the same holds true for our approach to work and jobs. Instead of idolizing work and making it the central focus of our lives, considering a job as good enough, a means to support the life we want to live, can bring about greater contentment. It's important to define what "good enough" means to us personally and not get caught up in the notion of finding a dream job. By diversifying our sources of identity and meaning beyond just our job, we can build a stable foundation for a fulfilling life. Just as an investor benefits from diversifying their portfolio, we too benefit from diversifying our sources of identity.

    The Risks of Relying Solely on Our Jobs for Identity and Meaning

    Relying solely on our jobs for identity, meaning, and purpose can be risky and problematic. In today's society, with the decline of other sources of identity like organized religion or community groups, many Americans are turning to their workplaces to fulfill these needs. However, our jobs were not designed to bear this burden. When we give all our best time and energy to our jobs, we can neglect other important identities such as being a neighbor, a parent, a friend, or an artist. Additionally, if we treat our jobs as our primary source of identity and meaning, we may face disappointment if we lose our jobs or if our expectations are too high. While jobs can provide meaning and identity, it is important to diversify our sources and not rely solely on our careers.

    Balancing Work and Passion

    It's okay to have a day job and pursue your passion outside of work. Many people work to survive and not everyone has the privilege or luck to self-actualize through their work. Society often idolizes work and makes it seem like not finding a job that aligns with your passion is a character flaw, but that's simply not the reality for most workers. It's important to understand that work and personal life are not mutually exclusive. Research shows that having varied hobbies and interests outside of work actually enhances creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills. It's about finding a balance and realizing that a diversified portfolio of meaning can fuel both our work and personal lives.

    Balancing Work and Life for a Fulfilling Existence

    Our approach to work should be balanced and focused on supporting our overall vision of a fulfilling and well-lived life. Rather than solely defining ourselves by our jobs, we should explore and invest in other aspects of our lives for personal growth and fulfillment. It is important to recognize that our jobs not only consume our time but also our energy, and to find meaning in other areas, we must dedicate time and attention to them. By intentionally investing in relationships, hobbies, and our local communities, we can cultivate a more diverse identity and increase our chances of feeling fulfilled. Let's shift our focus from asking others what they do to finding out what they like to do, allowing people to define themselves based on their own terms and interests.

    Redefining Worth and Identity Beyond Careers

    We need to redefine how we perceive and discuss someone's worth based on their career. As Simone and Dan discuss, the question "What do you do?" can place unnecessary pressure on individuals to have an impressive or prestigious job. Instead, they suggest asking open-ended questions about someone's interests and how they spend their time. Moreover, they highlight the importance of defining ourselves based on our inherent characteristics, such as being generous or loyal, rather than relying solely on external achievements or validation. This shift in perspective allows individuals to embrace their identity beyond their career and find fulfillment in other aspects of their lives.

    Expanding Connections and Exploring Identity for Overall Well-being

    Finding other areas in our life where we can connect with different communities and explore different identities can be beneficial for our overall well-being. Stepping away from work and immersing ourselves in activities or groups that prioritize different values can help us decenter work and find a sense of fulfillment beyond professional achievements. Whether it's volunteering, joining a sports team, or engaging in hobbies, these different containers of our life allow us to experience different priorities and find meaning outside of work. Additionally, embracing different identities, such as becoming a parent, can bring new perspectives and force us to reflect on our values and how we spend our time and energy. Ultimately, taking the time to explore these different aspects of our lives can lead to greater happiness and resilience when faced with challenges in our professional lives.

    Redefining Work: Expanding Identities and Finding Meaning

    Work has become increasingly central to American identities and sources of meaning. Simone Stolzoff's personal journey of trying to find the right career reflects the privilege of being able to entertain the question of what one wants to do. The conflation of who we are and what we do has been exacerbated by various factors, including political ties to employment, economic inequalities, and a cultural emphasis on work. To expand our identities outside of the office, Simone suggests a two-step process. First, we need to question the subjective value we place on work and consider other institutions that once brought us meaning and identity. Second, we should actively pursue passions and interests beyond our careers to create a more fulfilling and balanced life.

    Creating Boundaries and Finding Balance

    It is important to create boundaries between work and personal life by carving out space to recharge. In today's digital age, work has become "leaky" and we are always accessible, which negatively impacts both our work and personal lives. Engaging in activities that require our undivided attention, such as exercise or hobbies, helps us disconnect from work and be present in the moment. Additionally, it is essential to prioritize activities that bring us joy and fulfillment, even if they don't have a direct monetary value. These activities allow us to expand our identities and find meaning beyond our work. It's a reminder that our worth goes beyond economic value.  Overall, finding a balance between work and personal interests contributes to overall well-being and satisfaction.

    Prioritizing Intrinsic Joy over External Validation

    Finding intrinsic joy and fulfillment in our pursuits is more important than external markers of validation or recognition. Whether it's exercise, meditation, pursuing a degree, or engaging in activities, the focus should be on what genuinely motivates us and brings us pleasure. Identifying our own values and motivations allows us to make better decisions and invest our time and energy into things that truly matter to us. It's about the inherent joy and satisfaction we derive from our actions, rather than seeking validation or approval from others. This mindset helps us prioritize what truly matters in life, beyond societal expectations or external rewards.

    Purpose and alignment: Finding fulfillment in work

    Work is not just about making a living, but also about finding fulfillment and purpose. It is important to connect with the "why" behind our work and align our personal interests with our means of making money. The pandemic has shown that when people have a stronger social support system and a less fearful social safety net, they are able to make decisions that lead to greater alignment and satisfaction in their work. Decoupling our basic human needs from our survival allows us to think more expansively about the possibilities ahead of us. While following our passion can lead to great work, it is essential to acknowledge that this advice may not be accessible or practical for everyone, and can actually exacerbate inequality for those with fewer opportunities.

    The dangers of pursuing passion without equal opportunities and resources

    Following your passion can lead to damaging paths for those who don't have the same opportunities and resources. In industries like journalism, entry-level positions often don't offer a living wage, leaving some individuals at a disadvantage. There's a term called "vocational awe" that highlights the perceived righteousness of certain industries, which can mask exploitation and injustice within them. It's crucial to recognize that passion and love for work should not replace fair pay, workplace protections, or job security. Instead of solely focusing on innate passions, it's important to build skills, invest in expertise, and work hard, as passion often emerges as a result of these efforts. Defining what a "good enough" job and success means to each individual is key.

    Balancing External Factors and Personal Values in Fulfilling Work

    When it comes to finding fulfilling work, it's essential to consider both external factors and personal values. Simone Stolzoff highlights the importance of understanding that certain circumstances, such as location and material needs, can impact the type of job and wage one needs. Additionally, Stolzoff emphasizes the significance of clarifying personal values and defining what truly matters in a work environment. Rather than just following market trends or pursuing prestigious job titles, it is important to reflect on past experiences where one felt fulfilled and analyze the factors that contributed to that satisfaction. By seeking a balance between market values and personal values, individuals can strive towards a work life that aligns with their vision of a fulfilling and successful life.

    Balancing connection and boundaries in the workplace

    While it's important for employees to feel connected to their coworkers, it's crucial to understand that a workplace is not the same as a family. Even though promoting a family-like atmosphere can increase engagement and job retention, there are fundamental differences between the two. Loyalty to a company's bottom line often takes precedence over loyalty to its people. Workplaces with tight familial bonds can have negative consequences, such as information being withheld and decisions made based on trust rather than business analysis. It's necessary to approach work in a more transactional manner, understanding that employers treat work in a transactional way as well. Additionally, the responsibility for preventing burnout should primarily fall on employers, who should create structural protections and prioritize employees' well-being outside of the office.

    The Importance of Rest and Work-Life Balance in the Knowledge Economy

    Taking breaks and resetting before exhaustion sets in is crucial for workers who are passionate about their work. It is not a sign of disengagement, but rather a result of caring and striving for excellence in their work. In today's knowledge economy, the number of hours put in does not directly correlate with the quality of work produced. Our brains need space to synthesize information and generate innovative ideas. Enlightened organizations understand the importance of rest and time off in sustaining long-term productivity. Remote work is seen as a positive trend that allows for hiring the best talent regardless of location, fostering autonomy and trust in employees. Hybrid work models will likely be the future, with intentional in-person collaborations and retreats to build relationships and foster mentorship opportunities.

    Fostering Meaningful Connections and Prioritizing Employee Well-being in the Workplace

    Companies need to prioritize meaningful connections between employees and create opportunities for them to get to know each other beyond transactional interactions. In-person interactions are not the only solution, as remote work has become more prevalent. It is crucial for companies to be intentional in designing programs that work well for everyone. Zoom happy hours might not be the most effective way to build culture and may end up wasting people's time unless there is a purpose and an organized host. Unlimited vacation policies can have both positive and negative effects, with research indicating that employees often take less time off. Minimum vacation policies could be a beneficial alternative to ensure employees prioritize their well-being outside of work. Salary transparency can help mitigate biases and contribute to a fairer workplace. Trust and autonomy are essential office perks, fostering employee success and giving companies a competitive advantage.

    Balancing Work and Life: Prioritizing Well-Roundedness and Respect for Individuality

    Companies should be mindful of the potential dangers of centering employees' lives solely around work. It is essential to prioritize the ability to invest in communities, find friendships outside of work, and live well-rounded lives. While bringing one's full self to work can be beneficial for those who already feel part of the ingroup, it should not be forced upon individuals who may prefer to have a different persona in the workplace. Side hustles can serve as a hedge against economic precarity, but it is important to avoid turning all passions and interests into money-making endeavors. Constantly thinking about side hustles can impede the ability to disconnect from work. Providing options for meditation and mindfulness in the workplace can be positive as long as it is not enforced on employees, allowing personal comfort levels to be respected. For leaders, it is crucial to cultivate a culture that values work-life balance and considers feedback and growth opportunities.

    Modeling the Desired Culture: Leading by Example in the Workplace

    Managers and bosses need to model the desired culture in the workplace. It doesn't matter how progressive or enlightened a company's policies are if the boss does not practice what they preach. Working odd hours or sending emails on weekends may send the message that employees should always be available and working as well, creating a culture of constant work. To counter this, bosses can utilize tools like scheduled email sends to respect their employees' time and boundaries. Even if the boss is working on weekends, sending the emails during regular work hours can help prevent the expectation of immediate response. It's about finding a balance that works for both the boss and the team.

    Balancing Work and Personal Life

    Finding a balance between work and personal life is an ongoing struggle. Simone Stolzoff emphasizes that work often takes up a significant amount of our time, so it's essential to make those hours count. However, there is no fixed answer to achieving this balance, and it is a question that individuals will continue to wrestle with throughout their careers and lives. Being intentional about prioritizing meaningful work is a good starting point. Dan Harris adds that it can be challenging to break free from ingrained cultural and familial biases that prioritize work. One suggestion is to spend time in a different environment with different values to broaden our perspectives. Ultimately, changing the people in our social circle may be a route to adopting new values, although it can be difficult. The US, in particular, places a high emphasis on productivity and self-worth, making it even more challenging to find that balance.

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    Rewire How You Talk To Yourself | Ofosu Jones-Quartey

    Buddhist strategies for taming that nagging voice in your head.


    Ofosu Jones-Quartey, a meditation teacher, author, and musician hailing from the Washington DC area brings over 17 years of experience in sharing mindfulness, meditation and self-compassion practices with the world. Holding a bachelor’s degree from American University and certified by the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program, Ofosu is a graduate of the Teleos Coaching Institute and is the male voice on the Balance meditation app, reaching over 10 million subscribers. 


    Ofosu leads meditation classes and retreats nationwide, having taught and led retreats at the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, The Insight Meditation Society, Spirit Rock, Brooklyn Zen Center, Cleveland Insight, Inward Bound Mindfulness and more.


    As an accomplished hip hop artist under the name “Born I,” Ofosu released the mindfulness-themed album “In This Moment” in 2021. His most recent album is “AMIDA”, a spiritual, Lo-Fi Hip Hop album exploring life, death and his Buddhist faith.


    Beyond music, Ofosu is an author, releasing his self-published children’s book “You Are Enough” in 2020 and “Love Your Amazing Self” via Storey Publishing in 2022. He lives in Rockville, Maryland, with his wife and four children.


    In this episode we talk about:

    • The relationship between self-compassion and a successful meditation practice
    • All the reasons people resist self-compassion, and his rebuttals
    • Whether self-compassion is selfish
    • How to do self-compassion off the cushion, including practices like journaling, written reminders, establishing accountability partners, and simple questions you can drop into your mind when all else fails
    • How to do self-compassion on the cushion, including practices like body scans, metta, and a check-in practice you can use at the very start of your sits
    • And how to teach self-compassion to children



    Related Episodes:

    The Voice in Your Head | Ethan Kross



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