Don’t Settle For “Good Enough”

I’ve been talking to a lot of creatives lately about what they do and do not like about their “day jobs” and whether or not they’d like to go freelance full-time.

Something surprises me each time I hear their responses. Their thoughts tend to start like this:

“I don’t hate my day job, I just…”

“My day job isn’t really that bad, buutttt…..”

“There are lots of things I love, it’s just that….”

It’s great to hear that people aren’t miserable and generally see the positive side of their situation or career. But there is a flip-side to this “not so bad” coin.

It makes it too easy to settle.

Settle for “good enough”.

Here’s the problem with “good enough”: It doesn’t last.

And while you’re coasting by, focusing on only the positive stuff and ignoring the downsides, not taking action to fix them, your life is passing you by.

You’re denying yourself a lot of better stuff.

Projects that inspire you.

Colleagues and friendships that challenge you.

Income that you control.

Flexibility on how you spend 40 hours a week.

So what are you going to do about it?

I challenge you to make a list of every aspect of your professional life and rate how you feel about each from 1 to 3:

1 = Great
2 = Good enough
3 = Horrible

Here’s some examples for your list:

  • The projects I work on
  • My co-workers
  • My bosses
  • Respect I receive for the work I do
  • Time spent away from family
  • Vacation time
  • Commute
  • Work environment
  • Clients I work with
  • Inspiration on Monday mornings
  • Motivation on Monday mornings

How’d you do?

Lots of 1’s or too many 2’s and 3’s? Here’s the truth: You can have all 1’s.

It’s just a matter of recognizing where you need them and taking active steps to change them. Otherwise, it’s too easy to be complacent.

I personally found that self-employment was the best way to go beyond “good enough” in all areas of my life. Although it’s not the only solution, if you’re hanging out here at the FTFP, I suspect you may think it can help you too.

Once you recognize that you are settling for “good enough”, it’s time to take action and plan your leap into full-time freelancing.

Let me know in the comments, are you settling for good enough or have you in the past? What areas do you need to work on?


Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.


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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Oh man! I remember being here. That place where you’re not sure “what to do” but you know you need to make a change. So true! At some point you have to say you want more!

  • “Complacent”, what a perfect word for the space where a lot of us get stuck in employment (AND IN OUR BUSINESSES). Sometimes it takes shaking things up a bit to see that there is a different way (an better way) of doing things that will lead to great 😉

    Thanks for sharing Leah!

  • Guilty! I have definitely settled for “good enough” for way too long. I feel like my whole career has been Plan B. Now I’m going for Plan A and it feels great!

  • I have been there. It isn’t an easy transition, but once you plan it out and make the move when it is strategically right for you – it feels good. I work my butt off now so I don’t have to go back to the corporate world. It feels good to do what you love and the way you want to do it while making the money needed to secure yourself and family.

  • I’m a little freaked out, to be honest, Leah…The timing of this post, given the conversations I’ve had in the past week, is just damn eerie! So many people need this kind of encouragement and clarity. A brilliant post, chica, and I particularly like the exercise you provide. I know the Leap Guide you and Heather are creating is going to blow people’s minds. And what a world it would be if we all lived it in the 1’s.

    • Heather Thorkelson

      We’re excited Emily! 🙂

  • Thanks Leah. I’m not settling or stuck thinking things are good enough because I know what I’m doing now is building momentum. It’s slow because I can’t quit my normal job (which I love), but this is a good reminder in case I do fall into complacency.

  • I think that the universe conspires to give me boots to the bum when I start to get complacent. I slip into the ‘it’ll do…’ doldrums and then BOOM! The universe will deliver a spectacularly crappy day or week and snap me out of it.

  • Ever since I stopped settling for average, my life has gotten exponentially better. Good website (thanks, Leah!) Good clients. Good income. Good work/life balance. It’s not an overnight process, but focusing on what feel good and doing more of that always wins in my book. Eventually you just don’t have the time/need/energy for the not-so-good stuff. 🙂

  • Maisie

    It was only 3 months ago that I was still in my corporate job and I clearly remember those thoughts of “this isn’t too bad.” Ugh. Those thoughts paralleled what I believe I deserved out out life. Luckily I had a great support team that helped me to see all of the crazy-cool things I was capable of doing in life.

    Like you, Leah, being self-employed has exponentially increased the happiness levels in all areas of my life.

  • This is such a good article. So many of us settle for ‘good enough’ – and OK, sometimes that’s fine, but when it comes to your career – it needs to be great! Thank you for the reminder.

  • It’s interesting because I don’t really have anything to compare freelance life to—I’ve never really worked full time, in a traditional job setting, because I pretty much spent the last 6.5 years in school, up until I graduated from design school last December. Then I went straight into it after being hired at an agency that just wasn’t the right fit. But right now, in my freelance life, I’m not full of 1’s. I don’t think I’d be much happier or satisfied if I were working for someone else, but I think it’s important to note that just working for yourself isn’t the entire answer. There are lots of components involved in the happiness-at-work puzzle, and though some days are totally awesome (like I’m sure they are working for someone else too) some days totally suck. And I don’t think it’ll ever stop being like that—I mean sometimes, things are just gonna suck. But hopefully I can make some changes that tip the balance more in the favour of awesome in the coming months.

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