The Good Job


I visited a large company to give a talk about non-conformity and adventure. From all appearances, it was a well-run company doing good things.

Many of the employees came up to me afterwards to chat, and I asked each of them, “How are things at _____?” Most of them said that things were good, and I had no reason to doubt them.

Others had a different response, and either from what they said or how they acted, it was obvious that they weren’t happy. Several of them talked with me confidentially and said variations of the following:

It’s not a bad job, but my creativity is very limited.

I find myself constantly daydreaming of [something else].

I liked it here at first, but now I feel stifled.

These statements were invariably followed by something like: “I shouldn’t complain, because everyone tells me how good I have it. Lots of other people have been laid off or can’t find a job in the first place. Besides, I have good benefits here.”

Hmmm. Yes, it’s good to be grateful for what you have. Lots of people do have it hard these days, and that’s unfortunate.

But here’s the thing: it can be a good job at a good company, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. In fact, if you’re constantly daydreaming of something else, having a good job can be dangerous. A good job can keep you from a big life.

Sometimes what makes sense during one season doesn’t make sense in another; a commitment that was fulfilling at one time loses its allure. In these situations, pretending all is well is usually the wrong answer. If you’re discontented, it’s up to you to make a change. And if it really is a good company or organization that has treated you well, you’re not serving it well in return by giving it less than your best.

Aside from remaining stagnant and trudging along, when you find yourself in a good job that no longer meets your needs, there are only two options:

1) Find a way to bring the joy back to the good job.

2) Find a way to say goodbye to the good job.

You might think that leaving is hard. Of course it’s hard—it would be much easier if it were a bad job. Then the situation would become urgent and you’d do everything you could to get out as soon as possible. But because it’s good enough, you stick around.

That’s why, one way or another, something has to change.

Question: Have you ever found yourself discontented in a good job? What did you do?


Image: Dick

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  • Ken says:

    Its true, very hard to leave a good job. I had one for most of last year, before that had a bad one, did everything I could to change (even wanted to switch careers).

    The thing with a good job is all that you’ve said, and all the well meaning advice of family & friends to thank God for what you have. My discontentment arose from the fact that I was not challenged intellectually – well not as much as I wanted, so I felt like was wasting away – and being paid very well to do that!

    Towards the end of the year I heard about a startup software company and I was given the chance to join as a lead engineer, I took it up, albeit hesitantly, for me this place offered the allure to build something great, and I jumped,it was hard and I doubted a lot, but so far so good 🙂

  • Ben says:

    I left to ride my motorcycle for 6 months through Central and South America. Now new opportunities have presented themselves (and I’ve made several of my own) and am enjoying new and challengin work!

  • Steven says:

    This describes me rather perfectly right now. I’m in an enviable position with a great company, but after four years of trying, I know it’s not how I want to spend the next 25.

    Evaluate and prioritize what you want. Find the stuff that’s distracting or in your way and get rid of it. Embrace the possibility of failure knowing that you’ll probably survive and learn a lot regardless of what happens. Practice your “I’m not ‘quitting,’ I’m moving forward to other things” speech. Get ready for the ride. The experience with that “good job” will still be on your résumé if you think you need it later on.

  • James says:

    I’m in that situation now. I see the field I’m in, and the job landscape is shrinking all the time. There are more people looking for gigs, and the gigs are being replaced with lower paying gigs. People keep telling me that I’m lucky to have this job, and for the paycheck, they are right. But every time I sit down to do the job, I get mad and depressed.

    I started out doing one thing in this business (which I loved), and now do another thing (which I hate). The thing is, I can’t remember what I really wanted to do anymore. I feel like that has been beaten out of me, like there is something that I should be doing, but I can’t even see what it is anymore. I have read the books, believe that I can do things and venture out on my own, but I have NO IDEA what that thing is. I’m sure that, at some point, I used to know, but it seems like a long time gone. I don’t mind hard work (some of the best times at the job are fueled by working hard), and it’s scary and exciting to think about setting my own agenda. But I’ll be damned if I know what that is.

    For now, I stew. I work the factory (figuratively) job, and crank the widget out. And keep trying to figure it out. And feel lost.

  • Casey Friday says:

    I’ve been in a cushy job for 1.5 years now, and I’m getting out! The job is fantastic, the benefits are great, I have the nicest manager in the WORLD, and I get along great with my office-mate. BUT, I’m not getting what *I* need from this job, so my wife and I are literally going to pick up and move west. Just like that. I don’t have another job lined up, but I have my two weeks notice typed out, and we’re going to follow a dreams.

  • Kelsey says:

    The research jobs that I want (at least need to start out in) will pay me half of what my current sales job pays. But that is the only good thing about this job…. everything else is not me. But that is really, really hard to leave with the amount of student loans that I have.

  • Mathias says:

    I took 10 months off and travelled around the world, spending my days investigating my belly button, writing, doing photography and meeting awesome and inspiring people! Best thing I ever did. Now I’m back at my old job but plan to move on, if only that interview on thursday goes well :).
    I need a new challenge that is hard, both intellectually and personally. If it isn’t, I’m going to see if I can jump off that cliff again and see if there is more investigating to be done in that belly button 🙂

  • Eva says:

    I was in what most of young professional say it was a dream’s position at “X” company. It was a leadership role, involve in an IT project, etc etc however I found myself so unhappy, and overwhelm that I couldn’t take any time to even think what i really wanted in my life or if I was going towards my goals. It was a just “go” environment (just to clarify, go is has a different meaning than fast environment for me. Go= means you just react to situations instead of doing things because you believe are right)
    One day, many things in my live collapsed, my family needed me, my body asked for help, school was going bad and I felt crappy. So, then is when I decided to leave. It was really hard specially because the uncertainty of what will be next but I saw how it is truth that “when I door closed, many others open for you”.
    Now, I am happy, I achieved 25% of my list of 100 dreams in the past two years; I studied abroad, got an internship in a global role, finished school and now I am soon to be involved in an international development project and hopefully after that I will have a full time job that I will love and that it will be waiting for me.

  • Jeffrey Tang says:

    I’ve been in that exact situation: a good job, with good pay, at a good company, with good people. It just … wasn’t right for me. I knew that, in the long run, it wasn’t what I was looking for.

    So I left. That was about a year ago now. Some days I still wonder I if I made the right choice, giving up a reliable, well-paying job at a company filled with good people. But other days, when I lose myself in the flow of making and doing interesting things, I’m glad to be where I am.

  • jennifer says:

    I LOVE what my company is doing and their future projects really rock! However my *job* there and I haven’t even made the one month mark is already stressing me out. Yeah not even a MONTH! I would love and will find a way to stop working for at least 6-12 months and FOCUS on what I want to be when I grow up! he he he…..

    *JAMES* I feel you friend,I really do.I send you courage and strength to dust yourself off and to keep shining….

  • Sean says:

    I remember when I was at my last job, I even wrote a blog post called The Benefits of Daydreaming. Doing that was a constant reminder that there was something better out there, and it inevitably led me to the life I’m living now.

    Great post and a message that can be carried over to just about any aspect of life that may be good, but not good enough.

  • Fred Leo says:

    Aw, the guilt of being ungrateful. This is such a common emotion that people have when they aren’t happy with their job. I see it all the time. In fact, I bet we have all experienced this emotion in one aspect or another in our lives.

    For me, I had just graduated from law school and got a “great” job in a large law firm. Everyone around me told me how good I had it. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that way. It took a while, but I finally realized that all that really matters is how I felt.

  • Lindsay says:

    My “good” job paid me well and offered great perks. In the beginning, it challenged me and allowed me to creatively solve problems and find new ways to accomplish things. After several company re-orgs and changes due to the recession, my job changed significantly and I had a new VP that stripped away all the exciting parts about the job.

    I tried looking for new opportunities, asked for new tasks weekly, sought out ways to be involved in other teammates’ projects, but was still bored out of my mind. After a few more months, I realized that the only thing I enjoyed at work was organizing foosball tournaments in the game room. While I was being paid a lot of money to perfect my foosball skills, it wasn’t fulfilling or what I wanted out of the job.

    I quit the cushy job in the middle of the recession to move to the Dominican Republic and volunteer with a microfinance organization for 6 months. My work experience and skills were valued and desperately needed there. It was a tough decision and I miss my coworkers, but I’m glad I’m using my skills and developing them instead of still playing foosball in the company break room.

  • Fiona says:

    I left a public service job to go out consulting on my own. It wasn’t where I ultimately wanted to be, but it was a good interim, and helped me wean myself off ten years of ‘secure’ employment. I never, ever regretted the move.

    With regards to the company you visited, you’d have to think that if they invited you in to speak, there are some people in the organisation who are open minded.

  • Alejandra says:

    This is exactly why I quit my job a few months ago. It was a good job–a job other people would get excited about when they found out what I did. It was a job a lot of people were clamoring for and daydreaming about (I was a magazine editor at a major women’s magazine). But I hated it. I was miserable, stifled, frustrated, and just completely unhappy. I was not a good employee anymore; I didn’t bring the enthusiasm and care that someone else who was excited about the job would have brought. And I knew there was something else–something MUCH BIGGER–that I was meant to be doing with my life. So I quit. I just went in and I gave my notice and I haven’t looked back. It doesn’t matter how good the job is if it’s not good for you.

  • Ruksana says:

    I did once have a ‘good job’ that was really a nightmare, I simply left!

  • Gene says:

    A “Holy Discontent”

    I have been discontented at good jobs several times. For me, being a spiritual person always seeking God’s best for my life, I consider it a “holy discontent.” Above all, I want to utilize my God-given talents, gifts, and abilities and fulfill the passion and potential that has been placed in me.

    Therefore, I believe that when we are near the end of our “season” at a job that we sometimes find ourselves discontented because of the passion within us that wants to pursue something greater, something deeper, or something different. I have left every “good job” on good terms with my employers and fellow employees. Each move has been positive. Currently, I am doing what I dreamed about for 19 years.

    I’m happy and content here, but I know that a “holy discontent” may come again. In fact, I’ve learned to expect it.

  • Dee Relyea says:

    Chris, the picture says it all! I found when I had a desk job, I’d often feel sleepy. I’d spend my lunch break sitting outside on the grass meditating and day dreaming. Now that I am self employed as a career and life coach life I am energized and excited about work. Sometimes we just have to take the risk and leave the “golden handcuffs” behind.

  • Scott McMurren says:

    Ah, my good job. I’ve had several. Eventually…inevitably…my dreams pushed up against the job. They became too big and powerful to be constrained in the somewhat standard-sized box called “job”. I didn’t know what to do (still don’t).

    My DNA basically is “get up, go to work”. But eventually my own good efforts (I’ve always been very good at what I do) reinforced that the job was not quite fitting who I was.

    Eventually I would screw things up, ’cause I’m not very good at accommodating the mundane things you have to do at jobs. Meetings. Reports. Training and re-training your boss, etc. Those are all important skills, of course.

    Still trying to figure out what I should do when I grow up.

  • eyuzwa says:

    Google up a JK Rowling speech in YouTube. (I think it was for Harvard?)

    She discusses the fact that the only way Harry Potter took form the way it did, was due to the fact that her personal life at the time was SO much in the toilet.

    Her theory is that had she even had an even bearable “day job”, it wouldn’t have pushed her to reach down so deep for creating Hogwart’s.

    It’s not to say that you should find the worst job possible in order to push yourself for your REAL dream, but I think if you’re only feeling mediocre it’s a danger sign that you need to get out of Dodge FAST.

  • Jennifer Rowell says:

    All if my jobs have been “good jobs” but none of them have been right for me for the long term. My first job out of college was at a well-respected newspaper in Virginia. There were things about it I loved and the experience I gained there set me up for my next move, which I made when I left for a job in Alabama. That job was great for awhile but then it stopped being what it was and it was time to go again. The next job was a fill the gap kind of job to get me back to Virginia but this time in the DC area. I recently left that job, because while it paid well, I was miserable. And I knew I wasn’t getting any closer to the kind of things I wanted to do by staying just for a regular pay check. Right now I have moments of panic and think what the heck did I just do?! but I’ve also moved so much closer to the life I want to have. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t but I know the sky won’t fall and that at 27, I’m in the right place to take the risk to live the life I want.

  • Kim says:

    I had a “good” job, but it was sucking the life out of me. Finally screwed up the courage to leave, believing good things would come from that. Sorry to say it’s been 2 years and I am no closer to finding a new way to make a living. I knew I couldn’t stay in the old job; but this in-between-time is painful.

  • Alex Blackwell says:

    I look for ways that I can help others -to help them get to the next level or improve their skills. This work can be just as important as the job itself.

  • Tanner says:

    This article really spoke to me. Today is Monday and I am leaving my job on Thursday. My wife and I will be leaving for Africa on Saturday and be there for a few months volunteering. I have been working in the medical records field for about five years now and I found “myself constantly daydreaming of [something else].” Right now Africa is my focus, but I know that a career change in on the horizon. I have had two “good jobs” in the last five years and taking the step to break the cycle is a very difficult one. I think for many people like myself, the uncertainty of the unknown is a hard thing to wrap your mind around. For me personally, the turning point came when I finally realized that life is much to short and to full of opportunity to waste on something you are not 100% commited to. Also, just as Chris said in the artlicle, “if it really is a good company or organization that has treated you well, you’re not serving it well in return by giving it less than your best.” In the end for me, life seems to be about learning, loving, and growing as a person. The only way I can do that is by doing what I love. Thanks Chris for this article and all you material, it has really helped.

  • Erin says:

    Last week I quit the “Good Job” and three weeks from now I will be teaching English in Spain. I hope who ever gets my “Good Job” enjoys it more than I did. I’m going to tour the world doing something I enjoy. Sure the money is less than half but at least I’m not chained to a desk.

  • Morgan says:

    Oh absolutely! This hits very close to home. I recently worked as a social media specialist for a fairly large real estate guru. He was the type that was very against social media and really didn’t understand it. However, he also knew that he needed it to grow his business. Because of me, I showed him the awesome power of social media and he began loving it and getting addicted to his Facebook page.

    However, I was VERY limited in my creativity. I was only allowed to do what he asked. When it came to a podcast, a video, a blog post, twitter post, anything; I had to use very little imagination and just be stale.

    Every thought I had, he would reject. But every thought HE had, I HAD to follow through with, whether I liked it or not, or even if I could tweak it a little to make it more badass.

    Alas, I slowly stopped giving suggestions and just did my basic day-to-day tasks, which made the job almost unbearable. I was eventually let go due to not doing more than the bare minimum. The communication was poor, I could have done more, but it’s all good.

    I use my creativity to fuel my own business now. 🙂

    Great post!!!

  • Christi Herrick says:

    I have a good job with a good company…and I tried to give it away this morning! (CALLER – “My Internet’s not working, and I need it – I’m trying to find a job.” ME – “Here…take mine!!)…and I really meant it!

    My husband lost his job last fall, but the only thing he really lost is a sense of security for a little while. He has stayed busy ever since doing construction work, and financially our situation didn’t change. However, he’d love to be building more furniture, making more jewelry and hunting for more rocks instead of fixing whatever people want fixed right now – and since we were forced to see that we don’t HAVE to have that monthly paycheck, that seems more attainable. Maybe he’ll just have to learn to say ‘no’ to some of the jobs that come along.

    We are just about to finish helping our daughter pay for college, the house will be completely paid for in 19 months, and as soon as we get through the costs for this last semester, my next purchase is going to be from the AONC store…where to begin? (That was kind of rhetorical…but if anybody has a good answer, that’s fine too!)

  • Raqui says:

    That is a progressive company that invited you to speak. Seems kind of like they want to help those that desire to move on. Smart.

    It has taken me about 15 years of really hard work on myself, my faith, my inner life to start feeling that whatever work I’m doing for $ (whether I find it fulfilling or not) does not define me and that discontent and big dreams are very useful. Also learning to embrace the transformation of goals and dreams – even when that feels like a death or a failure – has been an important and recurring life lesson for me – more passion and authenticity seems to result.

    I really appreciate this post and the comments. I hear people talking about how they “should be grateful” all the time and I always want to have a deeper discussion.

  • Ken says:

    @Tanner Where in Africa are you coming to? I am in Kenya? #justincase

  • Anita C says:

    I am working at the best paying job I have ever had with great co-workers and an office with a window on the lakefront. I can listen to music and hang art in my office and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life here. I am trying to figure out when a good time would be to make my move – I came to this city to be a professional musician and I worked harder at it when I had bad day jobs. I am very grateful that this job has helped me get out of debt and allowed me to help my family members, but I feel that I have become complacent. I am planning my escape, but I want to have a plan of action and not just be running away. I realize that you can’t plan for everything, but not planning effectively is one of the things that got me into the amount of debt where I had to get a full time day job…

  • Heidi says:

    I left a good job eight years ago to start my own arts consulting business. The work has been good to me, but time (and continued success) has given me some perspective on creativity and boredom on-the-job. Being fulfilled is important – no doubt about that – but not every task or project life cycle is going to be able to provide that spiritual momentum. Sometimes? You just have to sit down and do it, whether it sets your heart free or not. It’s part of what needs to happen in order to provide the freedom and creative time we all crave.

    As a boss and business owner, I’ve become so much more sensitive to that distinction. I hire people and see their energy flag when they realize that a good part of what we do is not about hanging out with performing artists or watching theatre shows. It’s about that, yes, but first, we need to be making phone calls; reviewing paperwork; pushing the artists to grow and stretch; coordinating publicity. It’s real work, and the success of the show is the creative payoff. If I get bored, and I do, I focus on doing what I need to do to ensure that it’s a hit for my client. And if its a hit, I know I’ll get a backstage pass, so to speak. I challenge myself to make it better – and that gives me a payoff. Does that make sense?

  • Christina says:

    I had a good job once – great pay, great benefits, four weeks vacation, corner office… and I traded it all in in 2004 to pursue entrepreneurship. We are now facing bankruptcy because of a multitude of reasons; loss of a business partner, crashing economy and losing money on a construction job to name a few…. (fiscal irresponsibility, i.e racking up credit cards, is not on this list!) Here’s the thing… if you asked me if I would have been better off staying at my good job, I would tell you “NO WAY!” If I had it to do all over again, I would! Facing bankruptcy is scary as heck… but it’s just another opportunity to face your fears and grow. We have learned and experienced so much since 2004 – we look forward to again venturing out into this world and living life to its fullest! Thanks Chris for all of your inspiration!

  • Daisy says:

    This sounds a lot like what I’m doing right now. I love my work teaching elementary school: the challenge, the creativity needed, the constant mental and emotional growth involved in teaching. I do not love my job: the scapegoating in the press and the legislature, the violent students who interfere with others’ learning (and more), and the continual blame for our state’s economic woes.

    I took a semester’s leave of absence to recover from depression and what may be PTSD.

    Going back to teaching in the fall will be difficult. I’ve realized that the emotional strain is taking a physical toll, and there’s no way to take care of myself while I’m teaching. Conclusion: I will continue teaching while I look for another way to use my creativity and skills to make a living.

  • Marni says:

    I’m with JAMES! (“I have read the books, believe that I can do things and venture out on my own, but I have NO IDEA what that thing is.”) Stewing, thinking all the time (reading your blog and feeling left out of the joy!) Being a mom and knowing that whatever I choose I’ll be making that choice for others besides me, it’s difficult to leave the “good job” for independence.

    I am living MORGAN’s (above) old life for now, till I find the courage and the plan to follow my dreams.

    Love to you and all those still struggling…

    …oh, you know…Love to those who have found their way, too. : )

  • Elaine Masters says:

    Living in Juneau, Alaska was a great adventure. I was there when oil money was flowing and as the Program Director of the local NPR station, my days were full and rich, but the creative reasons I got into radio were being stifled by the politics of management. It took a few years but I decided to ditch it all and enrolled in a degree program in Acting! Not a good monetary or ‘professional’ decision but much more fulfilling. All eventually led to other radio gigs, developing radio drama groups, an internet radio show and my world has opened to more travel. Now I’m using those talents, as well as my long love of Yoga and writing, to teach Trip Wellness to drivers and fliers world wide. I could never have envisioned arriving here and it’s not an easy path, but much more interesting and fulfilling than the office bureaucracy. I say follow your heart, take care of your basic needs and create space in your life for adventure to sweep in.

  • ErinMargaret says:

    I am curently in one of those ‘good jobs’ but am not enjoying my job or benefits to thier full potential. Instead I have taken the opprotunity to start and slowly grow my own buisness. Knowing that I have the reliability of a stable pay check while my buisness gets its feet under itself is a great security blanket. The second I get all the kinks worked out (hopefully January-ish) I will be free to transfer over full time.

  • Jennifer says:

    I come from the other side. I have always had jobs I have enjoyed for the most part… But they aren’t what the world would call “good jobs” They have been low paying but the work I did and the people I worked with definitely made up for it. In the last few years, I started freelancing design work and its great. The only issue I would say… not the best paying gig when starting out 🙂

  • Bradley says:

    I still have my “good job.” Every time someone says that I should just be thankful for having a job at all, I want to punch them in the mouth!

    When I started working here, I was doing something that I love… drawing. For the past 3 years or so, I have went from drawing full-time to drawing none of the time. Now I do something that is soul crushing and pointless.

    To make matter worse, last year we had a pay cut. This year, no more 401K or benefits. The company is going in the toilet. Because of all of this, I have learned to loathe the construction industry. I wouldn’t want another job with a construction company if they gave me a $1million per month.

    I spend as much of my work day as possible reading blogs and such.

    I am, and have been for the past several month, planning my escape. Wish me luck!

  • T. Murray says:

    I have been “stuck” in the good job and finally got unstuck at the end of last year thanks to a departmental restructure. Instead of taking the replacement job offered I stepped out to take a sabbatical and also focus on my writing and business ventures more. I have never been happier. Am I making the money that I was making then? No, but it seems that having more control over the use of my time, creativity and leadership ability is making up for that at this point.

    It is hard to get unstuck from the “good job” but I think the first step is recognizing that you are in a place of discontent career wise and make a change. My favorite part of this piece was

    “But here’s the thing: it can be a good job at a good company, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. In fact, if you’re constantly daydreaming of something else, having a good job can be dangerous. A good job can keep you from a big life.”

    I think that fear is a primary reason people stay in “good jobs.” The fear of the unknown of how bills will get paid, how ends will meet. You can put some plans in place to make transition/change easier. Ultimately though you will have to take a leap….

  • Peter Paluska says:

    Most of us have probably been there at one time or another. However, as you said, really nothing to complain about. A good job that stifles your creativity is not the worst thing in the world, if you can figure out ways to take from it what you can use and move on to your dream project.

  • Anne says:

    This article is so true. If you stay at a job because it is a “good” job, or because it is a 10 minute commute, but you are not happy or even you are not passionate about your work anymore it’s often the time to let go and move on to something else. Because in the long run both you and the employer will suffer.

  • wordbin says:

    Great post, and this comment from Raqui really spoke to me: “when that feels like a death or a failure – …more passion and authenticity seems to result.” It’s inevitable for everyone to spend some amount of time working for money and security, but it’s absolutely necessary to also live passionately, which means risking failure. All a risk-taker can hope to get from the world is the truth– Either encouragement (or income) that helps us continue on a quest, or enough information to help us fail fast and move on to something more rewarding.

  • Salvatore Greco says:

    I was Dancing at Disney World…

    It was more than a “Good Job,” it was a GREAT JOB! I mean, the PAY SUCKED TERRIBLY… But I was not in it for that…

    I did it during my last 2 years of college, and the lifestyle was AWESOME… Rehearsing in the parks over night, being friends with princes and princesses…

    The problem: There was no place for me to grow. I could not become part of the corporate culture at Disney, and if I stayed in Entertainment, I would just be on of their Performing Slaves.

    I learned a lot, most importantly, LOVE WHAT YOU DO DAILY, and That I will not be a part of someone else’s dream… EVEN IF IT IS WALT DISNEY’S

    Thanks for this… SURFS UP,

  • Doreen says:

    I’m working the “good job” now. My husband and I made some decisions that left us with significant debt to pay off. We both are sporting those “golden handcuffs” until the debt is gone. But we have a plan. We know how long it will take. We know what life we want once the debts are paid. Now we just have to keep going day by day and make those plans a reality. Sadly, we are looking at another 6 years of the “good job” but we made our choices and now we will honor our obligations. So I will continue to look for ways to feel good and make the most of my “good job.”

  • Martha Taranto says:

    I have the “good job” and I’m daydreaming about 3D printing. Right now I’m learning Blender and Python. With my next tax return I will buy a makerbot thing-o-matic, and start printing things!

  • Walt Fowler says:

    I lived and breathed to be a chef most of my younger years, but as time went by, I found myself doing just as these good folks did; day-dreaming, losing productivity, etc.
    Much to my wife’s frustration, I’d find another job and move on. What I found out after finally owning my own restaurant is, that while I loved “cooking”, I hated being JUST that one thing. I felt I had so much more to offer the world, my community, and more importantly, my family with regards to time (the most limited commodity we all have) that it became too much to bare, and I caught myself being dejected, frustrated and worst of all, hating my life.
    I cost my boss and my family in that mindset.
    I have struggled since to find my niche.
    While I’ve given up retirements, security, and the paycheck at the end of the week, what I’ve gained has been priceless.
    I actually have piece of mind (when I’m not worrying about that next bill) because the thrill of making my own way IS something that gratifies me.
    We are still struggling. We are still insecure in some respects, but, I am far easier to live with, I have a reason to wake up in the morning, I WANT to go make a buck and give my family good things and the story continues.

  • Darlene says:

    I had been with the company for 9 years in a subcontractor position (which is as close as I’d been to a job in 20 years). They paid me really well, with bonus incentives for performance and sales numbers which I usually got all of. I got paid to travel around the world to NZ once a year, and to Canada and US a few times a year too. Through the job I got paid to go to NYC 5 times, Vegas 12 times, Atlanta, New Orleans, Australia, Austin, Orlando, etc.

    The people were and are great and I remain friends with many of them to this day. But I just got tired of doing the same thing mostly every day, as I’m a creature that likes variety.

    So I left on good terms and rented out my house and my husband and I bought an RV and traveled the US and Canada for 6 months. Now I work part-time and do my own business and teach and I’m loving it.

  • Kaye says:

    This feels a bit like when I was in my 20s, involved with the punk movement, and the push was for everyone to be in a band, to make music. Unrealistic. Not everyone can quit their jobs and travel the world 24/7. Who’s running the airline while you’re on your RTW trip? 🙂

    It *is* possible to have a good job, make good money, and not have your “good job” be your entire life. The job doesn’t need to define who you ARE. You can make music and art in addition to having a good job, you can travel with your 3-4 week vacation time (and to cool places with that fat salary).

    I know this isn’t for everyone, but I feel like there’s a lot of the Peter Pan syndrome going on here. You don’t feel comfortable in a tie, being a grown-up, and having to be somewhere each day. Frankly, I’ve dated too many of you Big Dreamers and know that most of you are just using this kind of manifesto as an excuse to drop out and ignore the exploration of ALL that life has to offer (including making some dough, or the delayed gratification of being able to retire early and do what you want later in life instead of forever scraping by).

    Yes, I will be vilified for this stance and not thinking unconventionally enough. I respect Chris but don’t necessarily think that everyone else needs to follow some nameless dream because you happen to feel a little out of place in the corporate world. Grow up, already.

  • D.J. says:

    I was in the same situation–“great” job, six-figures, the whole deal as a lawyer for a big firm. Two things really got me though: 1) Like you say, I felt creatively stifled. The law is hardly as “creative” as TV and movies make it. A lot of times, it’s writing the same arguments about well-settled precedent, looking for tiny bits of minutiae to distinguish why your client’s case is different. Quite simply, this wasn’t fun for me.

    2) I was on-call 24 hours a day. Though I was “fortunate” enough to not be called in at 1100 pm as much as other people were, it still happened, and when it did, it really, really sucked.

    So, over Thanksgiving, I took a long, hard look in the mirror and came up with a plan to get out. Six months later, I’m about to hop on a plane from Sydney to Cairns to go see the great Barrier reef. Guess that post on quitting your job to travel the world had an impact on me!

  • Don says:

    My job is O.K. My house is O.K. My life consists of working and sitting in front of the giant time suck in my living room. However, because I read your book, we are putting the house on the market and heading for a new life, in a new place, with a new job.


    The corporate world is an essentially contrived grandiose house deception that stifles initiative. All the associated glitterati cannot be equated with the cries of our inner soul which keeps yelling and gasping for breath saying”master am not fulfilled, engage me in a better passion so that we can both be happy”

    Most of the times we stifle this yearnings because of the paychecks forgetting that the paychecks are fatter,juicier and better when our soul works in her passionate environment as our soul was designed to lead us where it is greenest and to revel in peaceable working atmosphere.

    I personally could no longer ignore this noble voice and then threw in the towel of my some weeks back job and am most glad i did as i now do what i love,control my time, makes better pay,have time for my family and no longer afraid of the bitter pills of 4R,s( Redundancy, Retrenchment, Resignation and Retirement) that a worker must swallow at some point in time either at employees or employers discretion.

    Chris, thanks for this piece which addresses the pains most employees are faced with every morning and lacks the guts to call the spade.

    Finally, I say bravo to all who are able to take decisive action and follow their passion and not tow the lines of the regular “circus elephants”.

  • Patricia GW says:

    I’m simply leaving. Someone else’s idea of “a good job” does not meet the standards of my own definition.

  • Janet says:

    Tried to respond to this on Twitter with limited characters but I’ll expand here:

    I quit my “Good Job” almost two years ago and have been living/surviving unemployed/self-employed (when can you start calling yourself self-employed anyway? I’m still hustling to get much, if any, workflow) ever since!!

    I traveled SE Asia for one year (primarily in Philippines where I live as an expat Fil-Am getting in touch with my cultural roots) in a career sabbatical through zen monasteries and a 420 miles walk on an island with a local.

    Now, I’m working on being a self-employed graphic/web designer. I live in the slums since I ran out of money and have no savings. Its a hustle but I am definitely happier for my freedom and full of passion! Dream big and live! I’m still alive and kicking. Surviving!

  • Brad says:

    This one hit home. I am no different than many in this comments section – at the good job, good pay, decent commute, dandy title, but missing the all-important passion factor. I guess one real question is WHEN to let go of the good job and seek other things.

    When is the moment? Will it present itself, or is it something we have to kick into gear ourselves? Will it be a gut feeling or a conscious decision?

  • John says:

    What did I do? I made a change. Left the job behind to start my own consulting business.

    Scary? Yes. With a mortgage, family of 6 + 1 dog to support i’d lie if I said it wasn’t.

    But that was 8 months ago, and I’m still going…

    One day at a time…

  • Adriane says:

    I had a great job. More downtime then I knew what to do with. I worked with great people in a good field (not mine, but I liked the company I was with) Good pay and my Boss wanted to groom me to be her replacement (and I had a entry level position). Even if I didnt want to stay with my department I had plenty of movement potential because my degree matched the organization perfectly.

    But it didnt satisfy me. I was at work more than I was home and I missed my then 6 month old. So I also left. And then I moved to Italy. And now I am learning who I am and how I can be the best me for my daughter and leverage my true self in a way that makes me happy and creates an income.

    My advice no matter what the job if you arent happy about something figure out what you need to do to change. Then make it happen. When I decided to leave my job I waited 6 months in order to best be prepared. I probably couldve waited longer but I couldnt wait anymore emotionally lol. Just go for it. Despite the economy or whatever is holding you back, make it happen

  • Ryan says:

    The biggest obstacle to greatness is “good enough”. Truer words have never been spoken.

  • Bekka Scott says:

    Awesome post. One hour ago I clocked off for the last time from one of three “good jobs” that ended this week for me. But as a serious violinist, none of these jobs were seriously challenging and one was risking damage to my body in ways that would hinder the pursuit of my violin.
    Sure, it was great to be putting away a nice chunk of savings every month, but honestly… who cares? It’s not like I had the time to use any of that savings on traveling anyway! But now I have the time and energy to both work towards the bar set by me in my good-for-me job, AND get working on projects I’m stoked about… all leading to the ability to say, “I’m living my dream, right now, every day, and I love the hell out of it.”

  • Charles McCool says:

    I left a good (closer even to great) job over 11 years ago. I am still searching for the right fit but at least I escaped the cubicle jungle. The great pay, low stress, no commute, lightning fast internet access, and very little responsibility was no match for complete BOREDOM.

  • Jennifer Mathis says:

    My college-decided career began shambling towards its death in 2007, when I hit the brick wall of “I can’t do this anymore.” In the interests of maintaining my standing as a responsible adult, I took two subsequent jobs (each at a subsequently lower pay rate), until my job left *me* in 2010- I was laid off.

    I spent the last year wrangling with feelings of worthlessness because I no longer had “a good job.” Now, however, my husband and I are selling everything we own, and moving to Germany in 2 months. Neither of us have employment waiting for us there. I have no clue what will happen after 90 days.

    I can’t wait. 🙂

  • Katy says:

    I have a really good job at a somewhat dysfunctional company that happens to treat me very, very well. I have always wanted to travel and I know I will regret not doing it. But being bogged down to a company who needs/wants me to stick around, a comfortable paycheck, a mortgage, and a car payment leaves me rather stuck in the mud.

    I recently asked for an unpaid leave of absence but they cannot afford to give me more than 3 weeks off. I hope/plan to take my 3 weeks, return, save as much money as I can and take off for good come 2012, I just fear that I will sink deeper and deeper into the mud by then and never get out!

    But where there’s a will there is a way! It’ll just take some time to get financially free.

  • Michelle D'Avella says:

    Right out of college I began running my own business. About two years in I decided to test out the “stability” of a full time gig. During my three months there I knew all along it wasn’t the right place for me. My ideas were shot down, the business was rooted in the 80’s and was obviously not planning on joining the rest of us in the new millennium.

    Once you realize you’re in control of your happiness and that there can be more to life than a mediocre job then you’ve taken the first step. Full time jobs can be a great fit for some people, but I think the structure of the corporate environment tends to inflate the ego and leave employees unable to bring their ideas to life.

  • Mike says:

    Wow this really hit home. I am coming up on 5 years at a good job. I have even used the words, I am too comfortable, all too often here. Like James and others here in the comments, I am trying to figure out what I should do. I wrote in my date book ‘quit today’ on the anniversary date. So I have stomach aches about what I should do next. No more working at “jobs” I don’t want to work for anyone else but myself.
    Here I am not challenged, totally bored, but have an excellent commute, benefits, decent $$. How do I get out of the trap? Kudos to all of you who jumped! I am standing on the edge looking down, maybe that is why I feel all this fear? Chris what a perfectly timed article. I thank you for expressing what I am feeling.

  • Kevin says:

    I’m currently in a good job. I actually moved from one good job to another back in November. Before my new job, I spent 5 years in the old position slowly feeling like my life was being sucked away. Life everyone else, I have friends and family telling me that I should appreciate the good job that I have. I thought the new job would by me a little time to figure out what I need to do next, but really it didn’t buy me any time at all. With in the first two weeks, I was right back into the mental/emotional funk I’d been in previously. I am incredibly thankful for those few great friends who have been giving me the support I need to make this much needed change. I now have a plan that will allow me to move forward and away from what it is I’m doing now. I should be able to pay off all my debt before December, and then I’m going to blow this popstand. Unfortunately I don’t have the means of leaving this job until that debt is paid off, but I do know exactly what kind of work I want to be doing, and I look foward to starting a very new and different stage in my life. Until then I will keep working hard everyday to lay all the ground I’ll need to get me where I want to go.

  • Deborah Wood says:

    I love your idealism and thoughts. But am wondering how to navigate such a life with children in the mix. I think during that time in your life “persuing your dream” becomes much more complicated as you now have responsibility for someone other than yourself and your spouse.

  • Lee says:

    Last summer I took a job that is totally corporate. Who would have known – I love this. The work and the people and the mission. On the inside it is very creative and hopefully we’ll ship soon. So you just never know.

  • Therese says:


    Why make it more complicated than it is? Chris is right: either find a way to leave your “good job,” or find a way to bring the joy back to it.

  • Delores says:

    Cuts both ways. I have left good jobs that weren’t right for me to create a closer fit and find my opportunities. Sometimes it has worked out well. I have left good jobs with a high opinion that I would easily be able to make my way and land the job I wanted to spend a long stretch unemployed or underemployed. At this stage in my life, unless I seriously HATED my job, I would stay while making changes to get where I wanted so that there would be a margin of safety when I left. In fact, that’s pretty much what I’m doing as I plan my next J-O-B phase. Upside, I have a full life outside of my J-O-B and don’t hate it at all, just have outgrown it a bit.

  • Gillian says:

    Wow Chris, those companies must question letting you speak with their employees when 1/3 of them give notice later. A good message though – the ‘American Dream’ doesn’t have to be your dream…you can make your own.

  • Ann Söderblom says:

    It’s funny, I actually quit my “good” job two weeks ago right after finishing your book AONC. There were many books before that but it kind of pushed me over the edge… in a good way.

    I’m very happy with my decision and I know I’ll find something better. At the same time I’m getting busy with different freelance jobs within graphic design, setting up my own company. I’m also lucky because the job market in Switzerland is good. I’ve also written this book “The Sushi Philosophy Book” that is soon to be published!! Maybe you would like to endorse it Chris? it’s very much inspired by the type of topics you write about. Cheers and greetings from Zurich. //Ann

  • Kevin Miller says:

    Great insights. I feel as if these sentiments hold true in relationships too. It’s a job nothing more than a relationship (with required sexual harassment workshops)?

    Really, what you’re looking for is an opportunity that fulfills you, pushes you, one that you can bring value to, and one that makes you happy.

  • Roy says:

    Oh yeah, it’s hard to leave a good job. I’ve done it a couple of times just because I wanted to move to another country. 1.5 years ago, I threw in the towel to go work on cruise ships and take a massive pay cut. But the benefits from travel and extra time off was totally worth it.

  • Staci says:

    From 1997-2003, I worked for the government. I had a good job with prestige, paid benefits, four weeks paid vacation plus sick time per year, and a decent salary. I traveled the world–but only the set routes where we specialized in and/or where approved shows and seminars were held. I felt internal unrest and desired to be an entrepreneur. After September 11, I questioned what life was really about and what was most important to me. I soon left my job to start my own home-based business and have never looked back. I left behind a steady paycheck and security, but have now traveled to destinations I would have never visited as part of my former position, including Peru, Guatemala, South Africa, Fiji, Tahiti, Thailand and South Korea for example. I now have a happy heart and continue to look for ways to grow my company, expertise and my travel portfolio!

  • Janice says:

    I, too, was on the other side. Something about me never allowed me to choose anything that didn’t seem like fun. And, it pretty much all was. Granted, the times in which I was young like many of the commenters here was fervent with opportunities, the PC was being born, the internet, and I rode the waves of innovation. But, alas, no IPO riches for me, and now I’m at retirement age with no pension plan. But my kids got through school, they’re healthy, doing their thing and I’m ready for my next adventure. All I can say is I have no regrets and feel like I became the person I wanted to be through these work experiences. But make sure you have the stomach for being adventurous. If you must work for someone else, make sure they are the smartest, most innovative person and/or company and when it stops being fun, find another gig. They ARE out there. But like anything else, there’s a good and a bad side. Some people work to live and some people live to work. There IS a difference and each can have a different plan.

  • Michelle says:

    As I sat here at my desk, I read, “A good job can keep you from a big life,” and I wanted to just give you a super-exploding high-five.

    I am a journalist, and I like my job, but I don’t love it anymore . If I didn’t have a passion for breaking into TV writing, I would be a lot happier, but I’m done being a journalist. HOWEVER, my current job is giving me security for living in Los Angeles, it allows me to pay my tuition at UCLA for television writing/producing, and I’ve met some amazing people, who I will hopefully know for life. So, I try to look at the positive, and keep the 9-to-5 just that — 9 to 5.

  • Michelle says:

    AND, I know that it’s good to have a plan B. So, if this TV writing thing doesn’t work out, at least I have the skill of writing, and a fondness for reporting.

  • Misty says:

    In 2008 I had a good job, but it wasn’t challenging. So I took a leap of faith and left that job went to work for an NGO right when the GFC started and fundraising took a hit. But I survived and was stretched in so many ways.

    Fast forward 2 years – that brilliant NGO job then became the good job. Instead of listening to my inner restlessness, I stayed. During the next few months I lost my passion, burned out, and hated showing up to work. It took 9 weeks overseas on a crazy holiday to get that back my spark. So now I’m leaving that job and moving into a new season.

    Moral of the story: sometimes that inner restlessness or discontentment isn’t bad. Maybe, just maybe, it comes from the smarter part of your heart that knows how to protect you and keep you moving forward. And when that great job becomes just a good job, be courageous and leave.

  • Russ says:

    There are a lot of good comments here. Some people seem to find it easy to drop it all and pursue a dream. But there are so many factors, including timing, finances, relationships, obligations, on and on. And for a lot of us, myself included, we know the “good job” is not what we want for our future, but it works for now, it pays the bills, it allows a degree of freedom, and most importantly, the perfect life/job/dream to quit and chase after just hasn’t presented itself yet, or it hasn’t been figured out. I’m sure everyone would like to quit the job, take off, travel and live the dream. But for others, accommodations need to be made, and at the end of the day we need to make a living somehow. Whether “making a living” means earning enough to put gas in the RV, pay for the airfare and hostel expense, feed the family, or pay the mortgage or rent. So for some of us, the “good job” remains the good job.

  • Kate says:

    I started a university degree right after high-school, studying accounting. I left after six months as I did not enjoy it, to the point where I would sit in the library and read rather than go to classes. I then got a “good job” in the finance industry. And I have had that same “good job” for four years now. It took me only three months to realise that I wasn’t happy in the finance industry. So I went back to university. I have one semester left of my arts degree, and hopefully this will lead me to my dream job of being an editor or a freelance writer!

  • Ellen Berg says:

    I have a good job right now. Actually, it’s a great job if I compare it to other potential jobs in my field.

    But. There’s that little word.

    Right now I’m exploring my options and deciding whether it’s the profession, the situation, or something internally that’s causing my restlessness. I started my blog as a tool to help me pursue some of my other big dreams, but I’m trying to figure out how to marry my calling (teaching writing and helping others transform their lives) with a digital business. Not sure where it’s leading yet, but I’m on the journey.

  • Heather says:

    How perfectly timed Chris…yesterday was my ‘aha’ moment – good, safe job with a good, safe organisation that requires about 5% of my brain on a ‘difficult’ day – time to move forward. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. Good luck everyone.

  • Victoria says:

    Funny how this post arrives in my inbox at the exact time I needed to read them!
    Thank you, Chris.
    It’s time for that change now.

  • Donna says:

    Yep, been there, done that. I was once a research biochemist. Nice job. You work independently, get paid well, and your main duties are to write grants to fund your work, to supervise the folks who do the work, and to teach grad students and med students now and then. Trouble was, what I really loved was textiles. I just didn’t have a clue how to make a living with them. Finally, I came across the Fashion Institute of Technology and found out there was a living to be made. I went back to school at 50, worked in the field for a while, and still do it as much as I can. That combined with tutoring doesn’t pay half as much as being a biochemistry professor, but it’s a heck of a lot more fun for me.

  • Greg - Enso Photography says:

    Great piece Chris. Three years ago, I gave away my “Director” job at large non-profit job here in San Diego to move to a part-time position doing only the creative aspects of my old gig and I’m 1000% times happier and less stressed! Lots of people said/thought I was crazy for doing that or that they wouldn’t OK my request, or that it wouldn’t work, and they were all wrong. As many of the others here in the comment section have noted, it definitely comes with its own set of challenges and money is tighter (though I’m working on that through my Empire Building!), but for me it was the best decision I ever made, career-wise. Thanks to all of you for being my ongoing support group!

  • Deborah A. says:

    This post reminds me of my favorite poem by Kahlil Gibran entitled ‘On Work’. A quick excerpt:

    Work is love made visible.
    And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

    I am struggling financially right now but doing the work I love!

  • Craig says:

    Not sure if seeing the number of folks who feel like me is sad or encouraging. Like many of you, I am in a “gilded cage” that is sucking the life from my soul. I stay due to the guilt of seeing so many with no job, the work ethic instilled by my parents and the view that I need to stop whining since so many people in the world are so much worse of than me and my “boredom” and “being unfulfilled.” That said, I feel closer every day to making the leap I know in my heart is in my future. Who knows…maybe tomorrow!

  • Jason Fountain says:

    In 2002, after 7 years of teaching middle school math, I decided to take the plunge and try something totally different. What an adventure it was and continues to be! The change was drastic and gave me life experiences that I never thought I would experience.

    It also led me to Louisiana where I met my wife. I am now back in public education as an administrator, but I still sometimes have that longing for more.

    Chris, you have a way of nailing an issue to the wall with no escape. Thanks for your posts.

    Please visit my blog on leadership and education.

  • hanna says:

    11 years ago, I was looking for an online business without knowing what business I wanted to be involved in. Since I was clueless, I signed up for some affiliate program, paid c.a. $300 to market my link ( I did get $25 back through this effort) and life got busy.

    For 5 years I was working 24/7 at an offline business my ex and I had started but realized towards the last 2 years that this was not something I wanted to do. It had been something HE had the drive and passion for and I was merely the person making things happen. Painfully I got out. I say painfully because I did put so much effort into the business that psychologically it was very hard to admit I no longer wanted to be involved in it.

    For a year or so I worked at something I had never thought about that gave me time to recharge, find my independent life back away from the relationship dramas and now I am back to doing what I was doing 11 years ago still looking for that ‘passion’ to spark my daily living.

    I truly believe in the AONC, just trying to figure out how to get there.

  • Racheal Mack says:

    I think the best thing you can do (if you can stomach it) is to leave a good job that you’re not happy at because it doesn’t let you express your true talent. I did just this back in 2007, where I used to work as an Audit Analyst in a Provider Relations Dept. for an East Coast PPO Network. I discovered I was good at marketing and communications strategy while volunteering to raise funds for a non profit campaign in 2006. I took action and switched my major and began taking courses in the direction of marketing, communications with dreams of one day starting my own business.

    It was a hard decision to leap out on my own, and there were rough times, but I am so happy that I am now 2 semesters away from completing a B.S. in New Media Communications and have been working independently for over a year working with all types of small-to medium sized companies on the way to building a great new media communications agency of my own. Key thing is I believed in my abilities, and never looked back…

  • Dana says:

    I spent 40 years trying to work in the “real world”. Had a breakdown. Now I’m a happy artist.

  • Cathy says:

    I’m 34 years-old and completely burned out after several years of graduate school and nine years working for the public sector. I’m plotting my escape. I keep thinking I should be satisfied and grateful for what I have, but the exhausting schedule and lack of creativity are crushing my spirit. I’m good at what I do but does that really matter if it’s not good for me? Thank goodness for Chris’ community of support and encouragement.

  • Kelly says:

    Simple phrase: good enough isn’t. And these are words I need to read often myself.

  • Alex Humphrey says:

    This is where I am right now. I am in a good job that was perfect for me as I went through college. After graduating last fall I almost immidiately went full time as I tried to figure out life’s next step.

    In January I started my blog and tomorrow I will sit down with my boss and give him my notice. I’ll be quiting at the end of the month.

    He knew this was coming and we are working through a way for me to work a few days a week as a consultant. It’s a nice way to transition out of this job, help my amazing boss as he aggressively expands his business, and keep money coming in as I grow my blog into a self-sustaining business of its own.

    I’m scared, but getting out of good is worth it.

  • Natasha says:

    I took the plunge and quit my “good” (but totally toxic) job in spring 2008, which literally felt like the worst time ever to quit as the U.S. continued its plunge into the recession. I had no job to go to, but had many projects that I felt called to. Quitting was the best thing – I spent 5 weeks happily “self-employed” and just as I was finishing up the major projects I had wanted to do, a part-time job opened up. Today I work a “good” but boring job but it’s a good environment.

    Quitting, along with Chris’s great article in WD about how to make money writing about your passion, triggered my interest in the topic of Calling, which I’ve been researching for a over a year and blogging about since September. Along the way, I’ve read some fabulous books about what it means to work, the value of work and the state of work in America. Two books I would recommend are: Drive by Daniel Pink which explains why we’re not motivated by “good jobs” and Shop Class as SoulCraft by Matthew Crawford (that one’s a bit more academic but really makes you think!).

    Also, google Why Work? by Dorothy Sayers (it’s a pdf) – though written during WW2, it still seems remarkably applicable today.

  • Janet says:

    I have a “good job.” Being the only college graduate and professional in my family (a.k.a. family banker), my family loves to tell me how lucky I am. However, I’ve lost me health and peace of mind from overworking. While they are enjoying their weekend and evenings, I work or am thinking “I should be working.”

    I talked to one of my best friends last weekend, and we decided to quit our “good jobs” and take a 6-12 months off next year. We are saving and are trying to find someplace cheap to live in the world. I’ve been researching, and Thailand and The Philippines are topping the list now.

  • Rob Clinton says:

    10 Years of my life was spent climbing an unfulfilling ladder through the corporate world, successfully, but unfulfilled, though I did fight to get out and onto more of what I’m becoming each and every day. Bottom line, because I decided to own my life, and not let life own me I am now doing work(fun) I absolutely enjoy, and continue to have a reason to be grateful everyday. I don’t want or need the good job… I embrace the good life…

  • linabella says:

    I went back to school in middle age and went way into debt to realize my lifelong dream of finishing my BA and getting an MA in performing arts management. A year ago I was working in a fantastic job that I loved so much I arrived early and stayed late because it was so much fun. My boss got promoted and the new boss simply can’t do the job. I’m ashamed of the work we produce and I don’t even want people to know where I work anymore, yet as a single mom, I have no retirement other than what I’m accumulating at this job. In addition, my partner has been out of work for almost a year.
    It feels selfish and irresponsible to take any kind of risk just because I am heartbroken and depressed, but I am praying the situation changes, or another choice becomes clear.
    Great post. Very timely.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hahaa. As soon as I saw that phrase “I shouldn’t complain, because everyone tells me how good I have it. Lots of other people have been laid off or can’t find a job in the first place. Besides, I have good benefits here.” I just laughed. It’s true.

    When I decided to leave a call center job only after doing it for a week (I did a month of training), people hit me with that phrase. I left the job because it was tiring, repetitive, not-so-fun and the shifts were unbearable (I had to start at 4:30am… waking up at 3:00 am is not fun at all. I didn’t like shifting my sleeping hours)
    But it took a while to grasp what I did and I realized that I did the right thing. I didn’t want to become hateful of the job nor the company. So I left before it consumed me.
    Eventually, some of my colleagues left the company almost for the same reason.

    So in a way, I don’t regret leaving. It taught me a good lesson: to find what you truly enjoy to do and stick to it.

  • Ann Becker-Schutte says:

    I’ve read your blog for a while now, but never dared the hopping comment section. But this post connected so strongly that I couldn’t walk away without posting.

    I had the “good job,” right out of graduate school. Full time, great vacation & sick time, IRA contributions, flexibility (kind of). But, I wasn’t doing therapy. I was doing triage–and administrative paperwork.

    So I jumped ship, found an office, and started a private practice. No insurance panels, no referral sources, no clue about business. But I knew that my heart was in therapy, my talents were for therapy, and that I was dying inside at my “good job.” There was a scary stretch, that’s true. But five years later, it’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Thanks for reminding me of that!

  • Walt says:

    Is it true that the BIGGEST problem with letting go of that “good,” soul-sucking “job” is debt and the perceived material posessions that debt gives us the illusion of ownership about?
    I hear a resounding theme from most of the replies here, and must say that the possibility of losing material posessions due to the banks ACTUAL ownership, is the biggest hurdle of letting go of a good job, and seeking out ones own path.
    I speak from experience when I say that “losing” gave me back my life.
    I am creating every day. I am creating my own savings to buy the meaningful and essential things my family wants and needs without the debt we once relied on to give us those things, not to mention the values and lessons we have passed on to our children in the process. Like what’s REALLY important.
    I am not wealthy with material posessions, but I am much wiser, more determined, and have found a renewed vision for our future. I’m not punching clocks, I’m painting canvas. I’m not cooking for the rich and snobby, I’m starting a small business.
    The single most important lessons of my life, have been learned through this experience, and ALL other experiences.


  • van gogh... says:

    i have a good job too, it the best brand in india in the sector i work, its the best paymaster and the people here are nice to me. Atleast my immediate team. I get to do a lot , lot of work, every year i get a very good performance rating, but i dont know where am i going. I just sit in this cubicle and every day its the same. I dont think there is a career path for me, while they give me a rating but they say we will look at you the next year for promotions. My reason to not be happy is not because they are not promoting me. Its that we dont have clarity on what we want to do as a team and what i want to do with my time, we are too adhoc.. Every one wants to control me , Every one want to give me some free advise. I dont know how unclear we are, how are people around me living a life full of compromises , just to get a pay check… And then they say every other company will be the same… I need a break and may be re work on my priorities… i need to find work , where we can meet people… and do some thing meaningful…

  • Michael says:

    How about a good job that you define yourself, doing the things you love, setting your own rules, work hours, and time off for the other things you love, and at the same time making enough to give yourself all the benefits you need to feel comfortable and safe?

    Surely it’s possible for everybody in the world, if we could just believe in it. For sure it is possible. No doubt about it.

    Imagine what the world would be like then? Sounds wonderful!

    It’s where I’m heading from my lousy job with good benefits.

  • Shannon says:

    That’s really sad just as the situation I am in right now. You even cannot complain to your friend who would say “you’ve already got everything good enough, what else could you complain? think of me!”

    I hate that..

  • Jonathan says:

    I’m constantly telling people to leave their unfulfilling jobs and they just laugh at me in that sarcastic, yeah-whatever kind of way. Here in Spain, where unemployment is 20%, leaving a job is about as irresponsible as most people could possibly imagine.

  • Ellen says:

    I guess you must have hit a nerve with so many posts. Thanks for bringing this topic up.

    @ James: I know how you feel, I had the same problem for years after having been thrown into the corporate world. I hated it but had no clue what I wanted. It takes a lot of time and inner search and experiments and patience to find out what your talents are and what makes you happy. For me it was teaching and holistic medicine, so I combine the two.

    @ Eva: Great move. Which NGO did you do your training with if I may ask?

    So many great entries. What is a “good” job after all and why are so many people unhappy with it? I guess what we realize is that money is not everything after all despite a downward spiralling economy. Self fulfillment is way more important. However, it takes much more energy, commitment and willingness for sacrifice. You have to find clients yourself, you have to become your own marketing director, IT professional and all other things. And it is a long, long road to go. Yet, the Marxian “estrangement” from labour is overcome and we feel whole again – hopefully. I do 🙂 I guess most of us do. Good all to all.

  • Barbara Winter says:

    Good job is an oxymoron. And so 20th Century.

  • Jeffrey Davis says:

    13 years ago I found myself in a seemingly good job for an academic. Good pay. Recognition. Decision-making roles. Great course load. The problem? I was burnt. The interim dean was a good ol’ boy. I knew my days and weeks could flow better, that I could do better work for more people. With little saved & vague ideas about how to re-define myself, I resigned and never looked back.

    The clients I work with now face the same matters we all do that relate to financial security. But more and more of my clients’ issues go deeper than money. Their reservation – like mine – has to do with an identity quest (not crisis). They find themselves in what I call fertile confusion. And leaving a non-fulfilling job or trying to re-frame their attitude toward a good job is often part of a deeper situation. Ultimately, to navigate that situation requires a lot – an optimal mind, allies, and a series of productive creative habits that empower the person.

    Not an easy road – but the creative or non-conformist path is by its nature challenging.

    Thanks for your post and for your great work. (Also, it was fantastic to meet you and participate in your Master Class at 99% last week.)

  • Jay says:

    What I appreciate about this blog and this post in particular is the focus on the individual. When someone is unhappy, especially at work, it is easy to blame the company, the boss and/or coworkers. Blaming is negative and unproductive though.

    Taking ownership of your own happiness and taking action is positive.

    It is also refreshing to see in the majority of the responses that people are taking ownership of their happiness without blaming the job. Thank you.

  • Ardlisse says:

    I feel exactly the way James feels and I mean exactly.

  • Vincent says:

    I used to have one of those”good” jobs like you mention. They bought my car, paid for my insurance and gas and paid me a lot of money to sell for them. It was a great job, but over the course of the time I was there I realized like you metioned that it was not a great job for me.

    I am currently doing my own thing. Do I miss the money? Perhaps a little bit but I have gain much more in freedom so I mind it at all!

  • Heather says:

    I have that “good job” right now. Good pay, great benefits, but bored out of my skull on a daily basis. Every day I go in, I count down the hours till I can leave for the day.
    I’m in the same place of saying “I know I shouldn’t complain… ” but I can’t convince myself to be happy.
    I knew when I graduated college that I wasn’t cut out for the corporate/cubicle world, but 7 years later, where am I? The beige cubicle with the beige job. I want out, but I don’t have the courage or faith in myself to think I can make it outside of the “traditional” job. That’s where I’m stuck now. I look at my website name “Wannabe Vagabond” and it’s what I want, but I’m not brave enough to go get it… so stuck in the good job for now.

  • Sammy says:

    Oh, if only everything always lined up perfectly in life! I think many people go through this conundrum at some point; often it takes experience and perspective to know when it is happening, and knowing if making a change is the right thing to do in your current situation. Sometimes it just isn’t smart to make a change depending on what’s going on. I can honestly say that right now I have a great job, work with great people, get paid well, but am just not engaged. There are very good reasons for this (that I won’t bore you with!) but I know that change right now would do more harm than good. It’s a good decision right now to stay and put in my best effort, so that when I do make a change (and I will) I’ll still feel good about my contribution.

  • Kerrie says:

    I transferred through a big Eastern airport to my West Coast-bound flight when I last travelled overseas. It was a nightmare with system glitches everywhere: poor routing configurations, inadequate staffing, aggressive staff/customer interactions, equipment breakdowns at every point~ I even reprimanded the security guy for being an ass to the elderly people in front of me in line. I’m not generally a rule-breaker, but I thought the whole system was ridiculous and completely flawed. Just like the “rules” that tell us a good job is our protection against future threats.

    Our families have told us for generations that safety counts more than happiness, that stuffing your feelings of dissatisfaction or anger or fear or whatever is critical for survival. Thankfully, it’s no longer true!!

    Reconnect with and follow your hearts, and we’ll all be stronger for your honesty.

  • Danna says:

    I found myself feeling similarly in a job I had had for 5 years. I had been thinking about what else to do for at least 2 years. I applied to graduate school and the Peace Corps simultaneously. So did my husband. We got accepted to both and I quit my job. We’re finishing up our classes right now. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  • Alexis Grant says:

    Thanks for this post, Chris. One of your best yet. And the comments = inspiring!

  • Barry says:

    Your description reminds me of advice I once received about relationships. The dangerous relationships aren’t the bad ones, but the mediocre ones. The bad ones you know to get out of, but the mediocre ones can take a very long time before you make a decision.

    To answer your question – I know it sounds corny, but I promoted my way out of it. Part of my frustration arose from a lack of developmental opportunities, and a new position was invented, as if by magic, right at the time I was looking to leave. If only all of us could be so lucky!

  • Wyman says:

    I like choice one. Make your job fun. Make it fun and exciting for co-workers and even the boss. Be a Linchpin. Cut out additional profit niches for you as a joint venture partner.

  • Lois says:

    This post really made me feel good. I was in the same situtation 3 months ago. It was indeed a good job. I was training people and I liked doing that a lot. But somehow it felt lacking. I felt I benefited the company more than the people themselves. I would much rather be motivating people and offering them something they can use in their lives and not just their jobs. So I quit. I am now traveling in SE Asia and trying to find ways to make a living doing what I love. Which is traveling and writing. Thank you for constantly inspiring us Chris.

  • Tony says:

    I’m really thinking about taking the leap. My wife makes enough for us to SURVIVE. It wouldn’t be as comfortable as it is now, but I bet the sacrifice is worth it. I would pursue my passion for writing by starting a blog. The only problem is that I know it will take a while to actually make money blogging. It would be a risky move to leave my good job but sometimes you just get that feeling that “everything is just going to work out.” All you have to do is take that first leap of faith.

  • Chryle says:

    I had a good job for 6 of the 8 years that I led a small nonprofit. The last two years were bad and stressful. Since I believed most of the problem lie with unfortunate changes in the board, I was determined to wait it out. After all, boards are temporary. In the end, a disgruntled employee teamed up with the few bad board members and I ended up losing my job. The funny thing is that although I am still unemployed six months later, I am glad politics did me in. I no longer fit the organization and I had too many talents and skills that were being squashed. Sometimes getting fired makes your world right again. When I do finally figure out what is next for me, I will be sending a thank you note to the four who worked so hard to get me to move on! The continuing support I receive from my professional peers and contacts in the community is wonderful and a reminder that a bigger, better life is in store for me.

  • Tisha says:

    If I feel I should leave a job, I will simply save up a little cash, and buy a plane ticket out of the country for a least one month. By doing this, I am placed in a new situation with new opportunities and perspectives. When I return, I always feel that I have grown to the extent that I couldn’t possibly return to the previous job. I take my new perspective and place it in my foundation from which to build the rest of my life. Next month its India. Woot, woot!

  • Brett Henley says:

    Love this post … love the conversation and response even more.

    My better half and I are in similar shoes. Both want to travel. Both are capable creatives that want out of the 9-5 race. Both want to help improve lives.

    Sticking point for me in this conversation has to be the concept of value. I have a difficult time with the “you’re lucky to have a job” commentary.

    To me, it implies that your value or potential dead ends at current job, when in reality, most of us are worth far more than our salaries, roles or responsibilities indicate.

  • Drew G says:

    A few years back, I had a “good” job at a well respected and growing company. The job paid well, was steady, and I hated it. It ate away at my creativity and energy. So I quit to manage a rock band. I went from consistent work to managing an entrepreneurial lifestyle.

    For anyone out there who wrote in the comments or is thinking that you just “can’t do it” for whatever reason (yes, there are good reasons to be hesitant about quitting, like supporting a family), I want to encourage you that you can and should. You have a choice and if you want it, you can find ways to make it work. I did it in a bad economy with lots of risk involved and I’d do it again in a minute.

  • Chris says:

    Quoting James above because this is so right on point and there is no way I could have explained my feelings any better.

    “The thing is, I can’t remember what I really wanted to do anymore. I feel like that has been beaten out of me, like there is something that I should be doing, but I can’t even see what it is anymore. I have read the books, believe that I can do things and venture out on my own, but I have NO IDEA what that thing is. I’m sure that, at some point, I used to know, but it seems like a long time gone. I don’t mind hard work (some of the best times at the job are fueled by working hard), and it’s scary and exciting to think about setting my own agenda. But I’ll be damned if I know what that is.

    For now, I stew. I work the factory (figuratively) job, and crank the widget out. And keep trying to figure it out. And feel lost.”

    Well said, James. At the very least, we have the comfort of knowing others are in the same boat as us.

  • Sara says:

    I stayed in a “good job” that I wasn’t particularly happy at for almost 13 years. It was intellectually and cratively numbing. I stayed for the money. At the end I was making $60K for not doing much of anything. Even on the good days I felt I was living a lie, and that I would be found out or they would decide I was overpaid and let me go. But they never did. When the company got bought out and those who chose not to move with the new company got a nice severance (including me!), I felt validated for enduring. Yet I’m not sure it was worth it. Could I have used that time more fruitfully for self-discovery? Perhaps…

  • Luriana Edwards says:

    This has indeed happened to me. I moaned and moaned enough to make me look for another job with better money and better my life. I have never looked back and am enjoying my life and my job much better. Even my family are better, all down to a small amount of money. Fantastic. I wish you all luck. Thanks, Luriana x

  • Debashish says:

    I was recently thinking about it and realized that jobs you enjoy obviously fulfill you, and bad jobs just give you a big push to make a change. It is the ones in the middle that are dangerous – bad enough to want to leave, but good enough to not do anything about it. That’s where I believe one has to have a vision for their future and then pick a side.

  • Michael Walek says:

    I am currently in the Middle of The $100 Startup, and now follow your blog.

    Last Thursday after coming back from a vacation, I put in my two weeks Notice at my “Good Job”. Everyone keeps asking me why, and they don’t understand my answers. So I tell them I have another job on the table the suits me better.
    I don’t mean to lie, but of the first 10 people (including my family) I told maybe 1 or 2 understood why I’m quiting.
    1. I’m unhappy, almost miserable being a cog in the wheel.
    2. It’s wasting mytime and energy that could be focused doing something I would be better at and actually enjoy.
    3. I have enough money aside to live for a year. (It was supposed to go for a house, that I just stopped looking for…)
    4. After all the books about Businesses, and Entrepreneurship that I have read over the past 3 years, I still don’t feel ready haha. But it’s time to take a chance. If I fail it will be fun and I will learn many new things. As well as meeting many cool people. So I will get up and try again, until I make it.

    So here’s to conquering fear and taking a Giant Leap!

  • Kristie says:

    Great read. I totally agree!! I am a travel blogger. I wrote an article just last week called ‘Do you work too hard? A reflection on life’s little decisions.’ Similar to this with reflecting on the decisions we make, how we work too much compared to other countries in the world, how we need to not be so materialistic and experience happiness on a daily basis. You should have a look. Great blog by the way!

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