Letting Go of Job Shame with Nick Cox

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Nick Cox has done some deep work around calling and vocation in his life. I loved this interview because we were able to go places that many guests just aren’t ready to go. Which is to say, you can tell Nick has done his work.

He’s also a good friend and long time listener of the Meaning Movement and member of the Calling Course, so I’ve had the privilege of getting glimpses of his process along the way.

Nick’s tired of the common narrative of quitting your day job and doing what you love as the primary way to purpose and meaning, which is why we decided to do this interview. He’s representative of a demographic that I tend to miss with my guests, those who are taking a less entrepreneurial path.

This conversation goes from discussing the high level philosophy of calling to deep into Nick’s story pretty quickly. Spoiler alert, it gets a bit emotional at some points.

But I also think this is one of the most important conversations that I’ve had the opportunity to share on the podcast, simply because of who Nick is and the perspective that he brings to the conversation. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did speaking with him. It’s a powerful conversation. And if you find it impactful, I’d love for you to share it with anyone who may benefit.

Listen in here:

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In this episode you’ll learn:

  • What Nick does
  • His process of letting go of his hopes and dreams
  • How he thinks about transitions
  • His process to let his job be “enough”
  • What is his thought are about the four P’s
  • The struggles he’s been through along the way
  • The legacy he wants to leave
  • His advice for those who feel stuck

Dream Year: Make the Leap from a Job You Hate to a Life You Love by Ben Arment

Software Generated Transcription:


Nick, thank you so much for joining me on the Meaning Movement podcast, welcome to the show.


Thanks. I’m super excited to be here.


So the question I like to begin with is how do you begin to talk about what you do?


Yeah, I used to have a really complex answer to that. Right? I used to sort of be in a lot of life transitions and have a super grandiose vision for how I wanted to make meaning in the world. And now I just have a super standard answer, which is that I’m a software engineer. And in a lot of ways, I’m kind of OK with that.


Yeah, yeah.

And so just a full disclosure to listeners like. I know Nick. And we go back a little bit. That’s so I know a bit of your story, your journey. I would like to hear some of that process. I think that sounds super interesting. It sounds like a lot of letting go of hopes and dreams or maybe I don’t know. How would you describe it?


No, I think that it’s fair to say. I mean, I think there was a time where I would say that like software development and this whole world of web development and design and stuff was sort of a dream of mine. It’s something where maybe 10 years ago I would have taken TheCallingCourse to figure out, like, how do I sort of tap into that?

And now it’s very much my day job. There’s not a whole lot kind of sexy about it. I think to people from the outside, it feels really dry, it feels really sterile, it feels really binary, both literally and metaphorically.

And I’ve started to tie less and less of my identity to what I do during the week, and I feel like that’s benefited me for the better. There was a long time where I felt a lot of anxiety about that and felt the need to really do something that I felt was spiritually fulfilling and was super beneficial for the direction I felt society should go. All of these things. Yeah, and having a deep sense of vocation and calling all of these things that are really your bread and butter.

And I started to sort of experiment with like, what would it be like if rather than like cultivating these interests on the side and really feeling moved by them and feeling like they were something I wanted to unpack and really explore and move toward a way that I could make in a sustainable way of life to actually just keep them as side hobbies, to keep them as things that I did, and to really kind of live into how much less stressful my life was when I wasn’t, like, hustling to find customers and spending so much of my time doing the administrative pieces, kind of the administrative trivia of what ends up being something that you build into a sustainable business model.


Yeah, yeah, it does.

It’s super, super interesting. I can identify with that in a lot of ways. I think especially the like feeling like you want to like you’re obligated to be doing something that changes the world, I guess.


Oh, absolutely.

And in fact, I’m sort of in another life transition where I’m moving from being a software engineer to being an engineering manager. And so I would literally be a middle manager, like a public company. If it weren’t the pandemic, I would be in an office. I have an office nine to five where I’m a middle manager. And that’s like a literal punch line to it’s what Dilbert is about, right?

And I’m kind of feeling really freed by just letting that be OK and not feeling like I have to do more and be bigger and do the artists way every three months and do morning pages and that I can kind of just be OK with being that.


Yeah, I love that. That’s super interesting to me and I’d love the punch line.

Punch line. Absolutely.


Yeah, yeah, yeah.


How do you think about like that transition of letting go of those aspirations.


It was painful. So my graduate degree is in counseling psychology and I came out with my wife and I came out with basically a mortgage payment worth of student loans every month. And we had both interned in community mental health.

So the options were, OK, we can live in Seattle and make a combined income of like almost seventy thousand dollars a year and have insanely high student payment, student loan payments. Or maybe there’s another way to make this work financially. I basically I got out of graduate school and I applied to one counseling job and one software engineering job. I applied for the counseling job where I interned and felt like I was kind of a shoo in for the job that I’ve been doing for free for like nine months and had very little experience in software engineering.

Other than that, I was just kind of like always freelancing outside. And that was the job I got. And I thought, well, I’ll sort of cleanse my palate and I’ll come back to counseling and do some really deeply fulfilling work for me and for the people that I sit with, and that was eight years ago. And since then, I’ve always felt that pull, that sort of, you know, the sort of entrepreneurial pull of I’ve cultivated many side interests that seemed really fulfilling or even sort of going on my own and sort of being my own boss and all of that sort of thing.

And then I also felt like an immense amount of guilt, that I’m paying an extraordinary amount of money every month for a degree that I like air quotes not using.

And that that this was something I felt really drawn to initially and something that I still feel is a critical part of like holding society together. And it’s something that I still want to do all the time. I would sort of say people ask me, they asked me, what do you do? And I’m like, Oh, I’m a software engineer. And if it was people that I went to school with, they would ask that question, assuming like what type of practices?

Is it a private practice? Are you in community mental health? Are you an outpatient or whatever? And so that always it always struck them as odd. That makes sense, because I’ve just shelled out a bunch of money for a graduate degree. But and they would say, do you ever want to get back into counseling? And for a long time, my answer was yes. And I sort of had a plan. And now that I’m eight years out of it, to be honest, I don’t know how I don’t even know if I could get back into it.

And that’s always been a struggle for me, because, like you said, I never felt peace about not doing something that you could call a vocation. I thought, like, you can’t call software engineering a vocation. Call it a job, but you can call pastoral care or being spiritual and like doing spiritual development with people or a lot of the people that we went to school with or the things that people have done since then are really what you could consider vocations, but you couldn’t consider what I vocation.

And I never really felt peace about that. And it’s something I sought your help both kind of from your online course. And I read everything that you put out because I was sort of trying to make sense of how can I sort of live with myself if I sort of have this career that feels sort of lifeless in a spiritual sense? The sad thing the thing that makes me really sad is I never allowed myself to actually just enjoy the work and find it intellectually fulfilling or I never really allowed myself to to look at the types of family situations that it could afford me and afford us.

And blessed that it was always I’m not contributing to the good of the world directly and therefore I am bad.


Wow. That feels that’s deep.


That’s been I would say that’s been a defining struggle of my life. Probably. I mean, it continues today. It’s not something I feel a deep sense of peace about. Yeah, but I’m moving toward looking at vocation as not just what I do to make money, but other ways of making meaning in the world that aren’t entirely tied up with how my bills and a way I can create identity outside of work.


Yeah. What it sounds like to allow yourself like you’ve been in a process of allowing yourself to provide really as a piece of your vacation or maybe let that piece of what you do have more meaning than you’ve allowed it to have in the past. It might hearing you right in saying.



Yeah, I mean, I think so. The job that I have now kind of allows us to as a family allows McKeyla to work like one evening a week and be with our two kids the rest of the week. And it affords us an opportunity to participate in our church life, for example, financially in ways that I can envision if I were sort of an entrepreneur. And yeah, I mean, it’s funny, right? Like they say, entrepreneurs are the only people who work sixty hours a week to avoid working forty hours a week.

So it really hits home for you. Ouch. Yeah. I and so I would look at yours and Stacia’s life and I would have this sort of like vacation envy I guess, and have this sense of like, you know, because I’ve had that entrepreneurial bug for so long, I’ve started so many companies and now yeah. It’s sort of it’s like it’s more to me about if I think about sort of the entirety of my needs and previously having this model where I felt like I had to sort of get every need met at my day job to think about my day job meeting really only one or two or even a minority of my needs and then trying to get those needs met elsewhere, which I think is a tough sell.

Right. Because if you look at it on paper, especially when I was going into the office, I would see these people more than I saw my kids. And I think there’s something there’s like a there’s a cognitive dissonance that you have. When that’s the case and I think the big kind of sell, so to speak, of this like vocational work and the and the encouragement of people to sort of like pursue their passions, is that like is that peace?

Right. Is like, imagine your life if you had so much more freedom and you are sort of your own boss and you could be home with your kids rather than working this job, that’s not fulfilling just so you can pay the bills. Right. That’s I think that the kind of false bargain that industry offers.

I know, like your work obviously has a more nuanced approach. But after reading all these books about like how can you tap into your passions and how can you sort of make that your life’s work?

I started to I don’t know if it was just to kind of resolve my own cognitive dissonance, but I started to just sort of start to piece by piece, reject that, which was it like a fundamental truth I held for so long like that you can’t possibly have a fulfilling life and a meaningful life if you work in an office 9:00 to 5:00.

And now I’m finding that not necessarily to be the case.


Yeah. Yeah.

Well, I know, you know, even some of what led to this conversation for us to have you on the show was a critique of some of the common profile of the guests that I have on the show, which they tend to be entrepreneurial in some way, typically have some blog or a podcast or something, or they’re an author. And typically authors have to have some sort of entrepreneurial edge to, you know, so everyone’s got their thing that they’re doing, that they’re promoting, that they’re like looking to be on podcast, which is really, I think, a lot of ways why they end up on the show, because I can find those people really easily.

It’s much harder to find, honestly, the middle manager who wants to have a conversation on a podcast about what he does. And so, you know, I guess first for anyone listening who feels like I’ve missed your demographic in my guest lineup, please note that that hasn’t been intentional. And second, Nick, thanks for representing that portion of our audience and being on the show here.


It’s something I still feel super self-conscious about, right? Like you sent out the notes of here. Here’s how things typically go. And it’s like, yeah, because so often people are promoting things on your site, which are on your podcast and in your work, which is a critical part, right. Of being an entrepreneur. It’s building that following and really cultivating a community which is great.

And immediately when I saw that, I thought, like, I don’t think I am worth it. I don’t think like I literally I reached out to you and I said I would understand if we need to cancel this. I don’t have a Twitter account. I’m not on Instagram. This could be a colossal waste of time for you. And as somebody who makes your living by doing really high value things with your time. And I felt this guilt for like, I don’t want to take forty five minutes of your time to talk to you because I can’t promote your podcast on my Twitter account.

And I can’t turn more people on to the important work you’re doing.

And I immediately just felt less then. I’d rather be even than owning that and saying like, oh, I have something to to to to give you and to give your listeners. I just immediately kind of disqualified myself. And I almost expected it to be like, oh, yeah, you know, let’s chat some other time. But right now I need to kind of focus on people who are easy to find online because I’m not.


Well, totally.

And I appreciate that. But also, honestly, I think that you bring more to this conversation than a lot of guest do, because there has been an area of struggle, of thoughtfulness, maybe, let’s put it that way, a little more positively.

And because you’ve done your work around it. And so this isn’t a conversation that you’re you’re not thinking about any of these things for the first time right now, which sometimes gets on the show.

Don’t don’t have a context for words like calling and vocation and what those words mean in their lives. And so I think that yeah, just to just, I guess, respond again to your to that email that you said, like, I think that you have a ton to offer and I appreciate you being here.




And I honestly think that what you’re saying is really necessary counternarrative that a lot of people need to hear to the more common hussle, your way out of whatever situation you’re in, you can reach financial independence by doing X, Y and Z if you just hustle harder, etc..

One of the most popular blog posts on the meaning movement is the title of it later in the show or something like let’s stop being ashamed of our jobs. Oh, it’s just about like how if I wrote this post.

Yeah, I wrote it. I was just thinking of. About different times when I. Well, you know, I was running a software company for a while and still have these other things I don’t really even talk about on the podcast. And some of it is because when someone’s listening to the show, I want them to know that, like, this show important to me, and it’s like a big part of what I do. But also, like, I kind of feel like I don’t know, I don’t want them to know that I’m doing these other things, too, that I like, you know, like there’s a piece of it.

So it’s really I wrote it most of the content on the meaning and I wrote it for myself. But I think what what I’m saying in that in mentioning that that post is that it really resonates with a lot of people feel like they need to be doing something other than what they’re doing, whether they’re a line cook at a restaurant or, you know, an admin assistant or whatever, that doesn’t feel like it’s enough. And that is a there’s some sort of messaging, some sort of story that has been told or that they’ve been telling themselves or that they picked up from culture or from parents or from, you know, whatever institutions they’ve been a part of that they need to be doing these other kinds of things.

And I think what I hear you saying is that you’ve been in a process of tough to let your job be enough.

And I think that that’s a really important thing.



You know, like. I think so, I mean, one of the things that I have to acknowledge is that so much of how I got to where I am is that I exist at the intersection of every possible societal privilege you can have.

And so that’s a hugely responsible for how I got to where I am. And the other part, the other sort of the other piece of my critique, I think about sort of like the vocational world, is that it is it assumes a sort of like upward mobility and freedom that a lot of folks of color or marginalized folks don’t have. And that also frustrates me. Right.

That feels really problematic that you can’t feel a dignity about your work if you’re not, you know, like posting these like these beautiful selfies on Instagram because you’re a single mother that that that lives in a one bedroom apartment or whatever your situation is. And I think I think it’s I think there is in some ways, it feels kind of like a bait and switch, like I’m not a part of any of these marginalized communities. So I can’t fully speak to that struggle.

But the tension I feel is in order to be able to consider making a vocation, your life’s work and moving toward them like a model where that’s financially sustainable for you, it assumes a lot. And you almost have to have several types of privilege to take advantage of it. I would say. I wouldn’t say that categorically. Right. But I would say a lot in terms of feeling OK about my day job. I think one of the things that I read that was really pivotal for me was it was a profile in The New York Times of a gentleman that I believe lives in Haiti, whose job it is to clean latrines like primitive, like community toilets.

And a lot of that involves literally getting into the muck. And it was a profile of him. And he had this kind of deep like he was like a very appreciated figure in the community. And he had this deep sense of dignity about his work that I found really moving, because that is literally a prototype of a job that somebody should feel like they should escape from. And here’s this man finding meaning and having what I think is literally the worst job imaginable.

Right. You can’t have a worse job than cleaning up human excrement. And he found he found meaning in that. And he found that really inspiring.


Yeah. Yeah. I completely agree with everything that you’re saying. And I think you had the privilege part. I think that one mistake that we often also make in this conversation is assuming that our vantage point on meaning as people of privilege is the same as other people. And this is something I’ve come to learn and maybe even I don’t know, I feel like confess in some ways that like I can’t determine who am I to say what that gentleman, for example, finds meaningful.

Like for me, I’m like, I don’t know how I could do that. But like for someone else, like in there, you can’t see the world through their eyes. You can’t feel what it’s like to be in their shoes. And so who am I to judge what the worth of the work that they do and what they get out of it. And I think that’s also a really important part of the conversation.



I mean, it is sort of like a cultural there is. I hesitate to use the phrase like cultural imperialism, but I somehow feel like that kind of has to enter into the conversation. Right. You can’t go to the developing world and see people who you can see, like school age girls who can’t go to school because they have to walk eight, 10 miles a day to get water for their family and say that.

But like, isn’t there more for you in life? And I think that that’s a piece that where I feel like the conversation really misses the mark is to assume that. And to be honest, I think it’s an immense amount of privilege to sort of look at your day job and to say this is not good enough.

And there’s I can’t wait until I can whatever sell my boutique donuts at the farmer’s market, you know, like that’s like why is it such a trope that, like, you see these statistics like, so whatever, 70 percent of Americans hate their jobs or whatever, and it’s become something that we’ve become so, so comfortable with. And in fact, yeah, indeed, there’s an entire industry built around that hatred of our jobs, and especially now that, you know, that we have record unemployment and people are losing their jobs.

Like, I think if you can look at people’s unemployment situation now and still have a day job that you quote unquote hate and feel like you need to escape that so that you can paint. Not obviously to say that that’s less then. But I’m sort of like “do your job”.

So many Americans who are out of work for their just wage jobs that to have a job at all right now is an immense privilege and do that don’t feel like you have to leave it to make some sort of transcendent meaning.


To self actualize.




Yeah, I love that. I think that that’s a really important invitation.

And, you know, I think on one level I’m like, oh, am I participating in the very thing that you’re kind of railing against here? I hopefully that’s not the read that people have on what the movement is about, which is about meaning and purpose, wherever you could find that. But it’s also like I think it’s a good lens for me to think about, like what is the read that people have on this podcast, and on the blog.

One thing I wanted to. Yeah.

Get your thoughts on, I guess the framework that I often use with when I was doing client work and in some of my materials in the calling course later modules, which I know you haven’t gotten to. And Nick is a member of the calling course, but not a very active member. Is that we experience meaning through there’s four different areas of meaning.

And so I would say I feel like we probably talk to.


The four P’s, right?


Yeah. Yeah. The four P’s. So let me just go through them and I want to know what your thoughts, the people so the people that you’re doing it with, that you’re working either side by side with or that you’re serving the product, which is, you know, the thing that you’re making, whether that be software in your case, that’s maybe solving a problem or, you know, food that someone’s making to put on some table to feed people.

The thing, the deliverable, the process, which is the day to day ins and outs of doing the job and then the profit, which is not just monetarily, but what’s the lifestyle that it affords you, the benefits, all those other things. And when I think about this conversation that we’re having and some of this kind of mental shift that you’ve you’re explaining that you’ve been in, it feels like you’ve really emphasized that profit piece. And some of my thesis in these four P’s is that it’s really hard to check off all of those boxes or if you’re going to rate yourself from zero to 10 in each of those categories, you’re going to be hard pressed to find straight up trends all the way across when it comes to any singular work expression.

But by finding ways to, I guess, lean into certain ones of these or find ways to combine them and maybe you’re, you know, making good money and you’re comfortable and you’re doing it with people, with a team that you really enjoy working with, like that’s a recipe that can work. You need at least two. That’s one of my assumptions. At least two of these boxes checked.

I’m curious what your thoughts are and if that rings true, true. From your experience and even in your current work environment and as you’re kind of reorienting the way you think about work, just how this framework works or doesn’t work for you?


You know, I do remember talking about this with you. And I do feel like also potentially that was maybe where a shift in me started to happen, was that I could consider and actually I want to back up a little bit because I don’t know if I sort of give you enough credit, because I do feel I give a very thoughtful approach to this. And I don’t think you sort of advocate this sort of like we can all kind of pursue our passions and make the world better that way, because I think maybe even potentially one of the huge things I missed in the nuance of your messages is the idea of finding work or excuse me, finding meaning, wherever that is.

And for because I think maybe even projected onto this idea of like it’s only OK if you’re making art or if you’re whatever it is. And so  I do think that, you know, I do think that you have a sense of freedom to make meaning outside of like a traditional like something that could be considered a vocation, I think related to the four P’s that was potentially what maybe helped me start to see the freedom in actually viewing my job through another lens that could help me make sense of the joy that I do find in it.

I super enjoy the people that I work with, and I still think to this day I don’t think I’ve ever spent time outside of work with any of them.

But it was actually really hard for me when we had to go entirely remote, because there are a lot of people that I counted on seeing on a day to day basis. And so the people part was there, obviously, because it’s software and it’s a great time to be in software. The profit piece was there. And what was the purpose?


Product and process?


See, it’s funny because I thought the purpose was one of those and I was like, I don’t think I have a huge sense of purpose. I do think. So so I work at a company called Smart Sheet, and it’s definitely shameless plug, look it up. But it’s a it’s a collaborative work management tool and a lot of the customers are using it right now, are on the front lines of the cold response. And so I’ll see these emails come through about deals that have been signed to to help facilitate that work, because  there’s sort of a lot of data management.

And that’s something that that’s much it really does really well is automate a lot of that. And so a lot of the people, a lot of the companies that are that have. Contenders for a vaccine right now are using it, I don’t know how directly, I don’t know what aspect, but so I try to find purpose in that. And I think that’s hugely purposeful.

But I still have this sort of this superego, this voice in the back of my head that’s sort of like, yeah, but that’s not the entirety of the clientele.

And it’s whatever it is, there’s always sort of a nagging feeling that I’m not making it up.


But it sounds like the product is something you can believe in, I think.


Absolutely. Again, it’s not something where it’s one hundred percent a spiritually moving product at every turn, because at the end of the day, it’s a business, it’s a public company. And there’s a huge responsibility to shareholders, which I think is a bad word right in the meeting. Community shareholders profit. It’s not right. Because that’s one of your four P’s. But I think the idea of profit is like a hugely aligned approach to making of a single lifestyle, which is really unfortunate.

Product and what was the fourth we talked about people, product, people, process and profit seems to be giving an opportunity to kind of like that message home. Yeah, right. And process is where you sort of look at the work I do on a day to day basis and like and I think probably a lot of the stereotypes that people have about software from watching like something like Silicon Valley or reading Dilbert or something, you know, I want to be like it’s not like that.

But part of the reason I couldn’t watch Silicon Valley was like, this is just it’s just like watching my webcam. It was like two act. I couldn’t do it. So I want to be like it’s not like that. It’s very much interesting now. It’s exactly that. But so there’s this intellectual stimulation that I find. Right, that it’s very challenging. It’s the field in which there is kind of constant innovation to the extent that it often exhausts me.

But even that process was something that I could never feel. I never felt about any of these four P’s. Right. The people it wasn’t like I’m working deeply in an underprivileged community. The was like to put it crudely, like, am I making too much? Should I be should I’d sort of like I doing all this self flagellation. Right? It wasn’t, am I making too much? Am I too concerned about profit at the expense of vocation?

The product was something I always had to feel less than because it wasn’t something that was exclusively designed to address social justice issues. It wasn’t like I wasn’t making software that was only to end massacar switch with like much of the software that I build and have built over the course of my career is to help profitable companies. And that’s something that the 13 year old me would look at me now through time and say, you are such a sellout. And like the shame I feel and have felt over the course of my career is so deep, right.

That I allowed even a past self to pile on that shame that what I was doing wasn’t enough.

And that’s a lot to bear. And so I as we talked about the four P’s, it was sort of a sense of like I do feel like I can give each of those boxes. And a lot of ways if I look at it through the right lens, I can sort of check them. And still, there was this shame that because it wasn’t working for a nonprofit or whatever it was, that it was somehow less then.


Yeah, yeah. Thank you.


And so if I would exhort your listeners do anything weird, like if I like if you were to ask me what message I would want to give to people, it’s not necessarily like follow your heart and follow your passions.

Like obviously that’s important, but maybe it’s don’t to feel so much shame about what you do.

And yeah, it’s sort of be like, don’t quit your day job, but I mean that very literally. Right. Like I think the four P’s is like a super helpful framework. But I think like me, it’s really easy to convince yourself that even if you check some of those, that it’s still not OK until you’re doing the Thing. Capital T, maybe it is OK.


Yeah, I got all the feeling to go in here, Nick.


Yes Dan


Yeah, I guess what I want, like, I think the problem is there isn’t like a thing, you know, like there isn’t like a thing out there, like you’re the thing like how do I say there’s some other way?

But like I guess what I want to say is like that thirteen year old version of yourself, like, I don’t know that he would feel embarrassed or ashamed that you aren’t going out there and doing whatever that thing is.

But I would hope that there would be some.

Some pride in the way that you’ve allowed yourself to be who you are, regardless of what else you know, regardless of all the other things that society and your master’s program and everything else have told you that you need to be.

But that’s the thing.



The part I left out about that story is the last thing I would really hope to do is to introduce that 13 year old to my sons and they say I have an office job and I work for a public company.

And you, like you can define that as a but like, look look at how happy I am and look at what joy provision gives us. As being me and that 13 year, you know, like.


Yeah, and is there really something better than that.


Right. I mean, I think now another place I find it the most meaning is just being a dad like I was. I’ve been growing a lot of food on our deck and like in my boys really loved to pick fruit before it’s ready like my tomatoes. And it drives me insane.


Waiting is hard.


It really is, but they love it.

And yesterday they were picking some of that and picking some of my tomatoes and they had set up this like fruit stand outside of our house and sold the apples for a tree and stuff.

And it was a really lovely thing to be able to be a part of.

And I wouldn’t have been able to be a part of that if I had been doing this freelance work and had to hustle for to build my customer base.

And I think that there’s not obviously to say that’s less than like obviously that’s a hugely important thing, but like, Ben Arment is I think one of the people that you’ve had on the podcast, and he does some really good work and I read through Dream Year and I watched him speak. That was really hugely influenced by that. And, you know, this thing is like how you find this fulfilling and then you have to find a financial model.

Obviously, that’s a huge dilution of this message. But like, there’s no financial model for there’s no way to make a living out of like being with your family. And which is also hugely problematic. Right. Because the way that we still undervalue the role of motherhood right now is that it’s the most underpaid, like hardest working job you can really have in our society. Right. It’s like being a stay at home parent, which is often the mother.

And yeah, unfortunately, we don’t like our societal economic infrastructure doesn’t reward that which is hugely sad.

But if having a day job, even if you don’t consider fulfilling, if that can allow you these moments to appreciate your kids, that will stand. And if you can do that without having to sweat whether your most recent post on Instagram is getting enough likes, then I think that that can be a really nice way to live.


Yeah, it’s great. Oh, we need to move towards wrapping up, unfortunately.




But I, I guess first just thank you for, for going there. I know before we had the record button I asked how personal you wanted to get. You said super personal.


As personal as it gets.


You executed on that mission.


I delivered on that promise Dan.


Thank you for that. I know you’ve already spoken to listeners that might be feeling in similar ways, but I just want to kind of circle back to that. If there’s people who are listening that I think especially just around the shame piece feels super important. But I just like feeling stuck in some manifestation of stuck this whatever that looks like. Just curious if there’s any more words that you would like to offer to them.


Yeah, I feel like you can only feel stuck if there’s a delta between what you’re doing and what you feel like you should be doing.

And if you ask yourself for a second, what would my life look like if I didn’t feel like I had to constantly be doing something else?

Play with that for a while. Play with what? If you could grant yourself the freedom to be an administrative assistant or to or to be a barista or to wash dishes at a restaurant. And what if that was your thing and what if that was OK? And that what if it was OK not to have a slash in your job title like author slash, speaker, slash, whatever? And what if you were literally whatever you are and that was OK?


Well, that was a great, great invitation. Thank you.

Well, I typically ask, you know, if people want to that they are judging hearing from you and want to connect with you further if there’s anything that you’d like to invite people to. Is there anything that you’d like to any action steps you’d like to give people anyways that you’d like to connect on.


You can read a lot of tweets from me that end on Election Day four years ago.

And you can not read a blog because I don’t have one. I don’t have a podcast.

Yeah, like listen to the meaning movement and sign up for spreadsheet. And it’s not like I do have this Tumblr where I’m recording like my forends like urban farming. I don’t even know if it’s public. I think it’s called Northwest Garden Journal and it’s like so it’s so like embarrassing. That I almost don’t want to do, like I literally only use Tumblr so that I can because it’s super easy to take photos and most of my posts are one sentence about like, oh, I sprayed calcium on my tomatoes today.

And I think that’s why they’re not cracking. So it has nothing to do with vocation.

It has nothing to do with, like, finding a deeper purpose.

But if you like looking at pictures of crop failures, I need just wildly speculating as to why they happened. You can’t Google it. It’s not going to show up in search. I bet if you go to Tumblr, there might be a search.


Go find a link. You sent me a link. We’ll put it in the show notes.


Yeah, good.


Very good. Way to follow along.




Well, Nick, thank you so much.

Just for go in there. Thanks so much for listening and being a part of this journey with me over the years. It’s good, good to have company.


Yeah, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, even though I don’t fit that typical podcast guest profile.


Yeah, I think that’s good. Thanks.



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  1. Hey guys!

    This was the first episode that I listened to and it REALLY resonated with me. I’ve been in a job that I don’t find meaningful for 9 years. It does provide well for myself and my partner and I do enjoy most of the people I work with. I am also in the stage of life where I’m thinking about kids and I’m trying to set us up for a smooth(er) start. It is difficult that I don’t have any kids yet to see the full benefit of the profit side of things. Nick certainly helped me feel better about my career situation. And the four P’s are a great framework to think about things. Thanks guys!



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