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The “Satisfied Striving” Paradox: Balancing Enough with Striving Towards Growth

Wandering Aimfully Through Our Podcast: What is it all for?

The “Satisfied Striving” Paradox: Balancing Enough with Striving Towards Growth

Can we lean towards growth, while still being rooted in satisfaction and gratitude? We think so, but let’s discuss!
Jason ZookJason Zook Jason ZookJason Zook

Written by

Jason Zook

Listen to our full episode on The “Satisfied Striving” Paradox: Balancing Enough with Striving Towards Growth below (with full transcript) or find our podcast by searching What is it all for? in your favorite podcast player.



Five Key Takeaways for The “Satisfied Striving” Paradox: Balancing Enough with Striving Towards Growth

1. Dream (and work) at your own pace and capacity

We recently found ourselves feeling guilty for wanting to work more on our business(es) and we don’t want you to feel like you need to aspire to where we are in this season of our lives. When all the other business advice-givers out there tell you to go harder, go faster, and dream bigger, give yourself a permission slip to dream at your own pace and capacity.

2. Embracing the seasons of business while balancing “enough” with striving

In the last few years, we really leaned much more to the other side of “You don’t have to be working all the time.” We were living a lot more than we were working! It’s very much the “enough” framework and just being satisfied with where you are in life.

The mistake we think we made was thinking there was somehow a right way to view the world when there is no right way. It’s just that was the way that worked for us and where we were at that time. We all change often and that’s okay!

3. Coming out of “maintenance mode” in the past year

We’ve talked about this creative dam that has built up for us. We both are feeling sooooo excited about all these different business things that we want to do, not just because of some arbitrary financial goal that we’re just now all of a sudden excited about, but because our enough number has changed and also because we haven’t been able to really do much in our businesses for over a year.

For us, it all comes back to creativity. That’s why we got into this line of work in the first place: we wanted a container that could support our creative ideas, which is what entrepreneurship does!

4. The paradox of wanting to feel satisfied WHILE in the pursuit of a goal, satisfied striving

We shared a quote from Esther Perel who says (about marriage) there’s a human need for having both adventure and novelty and ALSO safety and security. A lot of people fall into the trap of thinking if they have one, that there’s a problem because they need the other. But as Esther says, “Think of this as a paradox to manage, not a problem to solve.”

That quote is empowering for us because that’s how we think about the paradox of how you can be someone who is striving to grow AND be someone who is satisfied and allows yourself to be content. And at the same time, how is that possible?

5. Managing the flow of things

We’re here to manage the ideas. We are managing the seasons that we’re in. Those things are going to change and we’re never going to get to a place where we just have it all figured out and it’s all perfect. It’s like, “Oh, this changed.” And now we do that.


Show Notes for Episode 163: The “Satisfied Striving” Paradox: Balancing Enough with Striving Towards Growth

Life is all about seasons, and the season we’re currently in is filled with more hours spent working than we’ve had in years. In fact, we’ve been spending so much time working that we’re beginning to feel a tinge of guilt about it (like we’re cheating on the idea of enoughness 😂).

This week, we discuss the concept of “satisfied striving.” Can we lean towards growth, while still being rooted in satisfaction and gratitude? We think so, but let’s discuss!

Some links we mentioned:

Our “Journey to Enough” post – wanderingaimfully.com/330

Our “What brings you purpose” episode (#055) – waim.simplecast.com/episodes/055-what-brings-you-purpose-every-day

Shout out to Esther Perel’s quote: “Think of this as a paradox to manage, not a problem to solve”


Full Transcript of Episode 163: The “Satisfied Striving” Paradox: Balancing Enough with Striving Towards Growth

⬇️ You can also download the .TXT file of the transcript

Caroline: Welcome to What Is It All For? A podcast designed to help you grow your online business and pursue a spacious, satisfying life at the same time. We are your hosts, Jason and Caroline Zook, and we run Wandering Aimfully, an un-boring business coaching program. Every week, we bring you advice and conversations to return you to your most intentional self and to help you examine every aspect of your life and business by asking, What is it all for? Thanks for listening. And now let’s get into the show.

Jason: And I’m here, too. 163 episodes in, still don’t have a nice, solid way to intro these things.

Caroline: We need, like, a little phrase like, welcome to the pod.

Jason: Let’s go back and forth because everyone loves our improv.

Caroline: Please don’t make me improv.

Jason: We each get one. We’ll get three tries. All right, ready? So that was your first, welcome to the pod. So you already got one of three done. Okay.

Caroline: Okay, what’s yours?

Jason: Hey, this is the podcast. Here it is. Okay. That’s my first one. Go ahead. Come on. You got this.

Caroline: Podcasts are cool.

Jason: Nice.

Caroline: Dot dot dot.

Jason: No, we got it. That’s it.

Caroline: The whole thing is this.

Jason: Okay?

Caroline: This is it.

Jason: Okay.

Caroline: Podcasts are cool. Dot, dot, dot. That’s my second one.

Jason: You say the dots out loud?

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: Nice. Okay, so someone can really understand.

Caroline: It’s a beginning.

Jason: And it’s an auditory listening, so someone would know.

Caroline: Dot, dot, dot.

Jason: Okay, got it. You’re listening to a show by us, and now it’s starting. Just, like, very like formal.

Caroline: I feel like you’re just saying it more confidently. Like your ideas are objectively not better.

Jason: No one’s saying they’re good. I am hearing no one say that my ideas are good. I’m just saying my ideas. Okay, your last one. Go ahead. Remember the one you just did so you don’t repeat. It is “Podcasts are cool? Dot, dot, dot.”

Caroline: Yeah, it’s like…

Jason: Yeah, she’s laughing at herself already. Go ahead.

Caroline: I just said it in my head. It was so dumb.

Jason: Okay, go ahead, last one.

Caroline: Cinnamon roll, please.

Jason: I’m sorry. You said the word cinnamon roll and then laughed so hard that you are falling over. What is happening?

Caroline: In my brain, I was trying to work in, like, a drum roll.

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: Okay. Drum roll, please. Cinnamon roll, please. Donk.

Jason: Man. Have you ever thought about joining an improv group?

Caroline: I’m getting so hot.

Jason: Have you ever thought about joining an improv group?

Caroline: I like that one the best. Drum roll, please.

Jason: Okay, so you asked for a drum roll.

Caroline: Cinnamon roll, please. Donk. It’s like someone just threw a cinnamon roll at you. That’s it.

Jason: What was the second one again? Can you remind me?

Caroline: Podcasts are cool. Dot, dot, dot.

Jason: Okay, I got my last one.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: Skittles biddles. What’s up? That’s my last one. Okay, well, that would only be if we were sponsored by Skittles, though.

Caroline: Skittles biddles. What’s up?

Jason: That would be only if we’re sponsored by Skittles.

Caroline: All right, everyone, go online and vote for your favorite podcast intro.

Jason: Actually, did you know that Spotify now has a poll thing? Like, when you’re listening in the app? Like, if we were to put a poll up, people could actually vote if they listen in Spotify.

Caroline: Oh, do that. Can you do that?

Jason: I can try and remember to do that. So if you’re on Spotify, which is like, I think, like, 10% of our listeners are on Spotify.

Caroline: I listen on Spotify.

Jason: Do you ever go into our podcast episodes?

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: Okay.

Caroline: Just to see…

Jason: You just like, creep…

Caroline: How people…

Jason: Listen to us?

Caroline: No, because sometimes I like to check the audio, and sometimes I catch the audio is off, and I have to…

Jason: How many times?

Caroline: One. To be fair, it was the one time I checked, so 100% of the time that I check it’s off.

Jason: Okay. You’ve only listened to one of our podcast episodes.

Caroline: Okay. It’s not fair. Probably a couple, but maybe three. Thirty-three percent.

Jason: So you’ve listened to three of our podcast episodes of 163. I’ve listened to probably 140 of them.

Caroline: Well, that’s even more embarrassing for you that you didn’t catch it.

Jason: No, it was the one episode that I didn’t listen to was the problem.

Caroline: I feel spicy today.

Jason: You do feel spicy.

Caroline: I’m wiping the tears from my terrible podcast intros.

Jason: Yeah. Hey, thanks to everybody who joined us in our Wandering Aimfully Unlimited program. We are going to do a full launch recap episode next week.

Caroline: Because if you’re the type of person who loves juicy deets, this will be the app for you.

Jason: I’m going to take all the deets we have.

Caroline: I love juicy business deets.

Jason: I’m going to inject them with more juice than you could ever imagine. And then…

Caroline: I don’t know if I’d like that.

Jason: Put the deets on display just right on the table for everyone to see.

Caroline: Hey, man.

Jason: What’s up?

Caroline: It’s taking a turn. Come back.

Jason: You said spicy, so you said be spicy.

Caroline: No, I didn’t say be spicy. I said I’m spicy.

Jason: Podcasts are cool.

Caroline: So you like it. You kind of like it. It’s growing on you.

Jason: The fact that you have to say the dot dot dot out loud is my favorite part, though.

Caroline: It’s the lead in.

Jason: The first part is Carol’s Kool with a K?

Caroline: Yeah, Carol’s Kool… Cool…

Jason: But the dot dot dot. I’m like…

Caroline: Carol’s Kool Korner.

Jason: This is kind of fun. All right, let’s get into the episode by starting with our pramble where we share some of our Portuguese life things that are going on.

Caroline: In case you’re like, what’s it like to move from the United States to Portugal? Well.

Jason: And a lot of times we share kind of like what we did last week, but this time we actually got a question. I don’t remember who sent us an email about this, but thank you for those of you who always send us. Also, a lot of Petunias came in from…

Caroline: Because people love my improve skills.

Jason: The last episode, which was, if you don’t know what the Petunia is, then you didn’t listen far enough into the episode. So thank you to all of you who did that. But the question was basically, like, now that you’ve lived in Portugal for a little while. What are the biggest things you’ve noticed between life in the US and life in Portugal?

Caroline: In your daily life.

Jason: In, like daily life. Yes.

Caroline: How has your daily life changed?

Jason: Yeah. And so we can kind of go back and forth on a couple of these different things.

Caroline: Because my first instinct was to say not much.

Jason: Right. Which I think is just the human condition of being able to get used to anything.

Caroline: True. And we did have a full year in between, like, our previous daily life, so to speak, normal, quote unquote, daily life in California was the last time we had that was beginning of January of 2022.

Jason: You could argue we went from…

Caroline: There was a whole year in between.

Jason: Like, boring Southern California life to super inconsistent, what-is-life-going-to-be daily life in 2022 travels, which was amazing. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying it’s so inconsistent to then getting back to a boring life here in Portugal. Boring by whoever’s defining these things. Anyway.

Caroline: Yeah, boring’s not bad.

Jason: So a couple of differences.

Caroline: I want a T-shirt that says that boring is not bad.

Jason: Right. A couple of differences to share that stood out. And I jotted these down so you don’t have to remember them. One for me is just definitely I had always heard about this, like, slower pace of European life. Slower European life. And when we traveled last year, we definitely saw some of this. But until you actually live in a place, you don’t really get to feel what that feels like.

Caroline: Because you’re just dropping in, really.

Jason: Right. And so the best way I can describe this to those of you listening is when we were in Southern California, in Carlsbad specifically, there was a little coffee shop that was walking distance from our house, about a half mile from our house. And we would walk over there, but you couldn’t go at like 9:00 am because it was just packed. I mean, there was a line out the door. There was not a ton of seating in the place. But we love this little coffee shop. But you had to go strategically at like, 10:30. Here, you wouldn’t find that. Granted, there are not a lot of specialty coffee shops, but I just mean in general, you’re not really getting to a lot of places that are, like, line out the door type of thing.

Caroline: I know, but that’s such a generalization, Jace, because think about Lisbon. You would probably have times during the day.

Jason: But I’m comparing where we live now, which I think is as similar to Carlsbad, where we were living of, like it’s a quieter area.

Caroline: Got it.

Jason: So I’m not saying, like…

Caroline: Because we did live in sort of a quieter area by comparison, but the definition of quiet there was not nearly as slow and relaxed as it is here.

Jason: Yeah, and I think the other thing, too. We’ve talked about this before, but just for those of you who…

Caroline: The point I was just making is that it’s not Europe as a whole because there are places…

Jason: No, no. Absolutely. Smaller town, smaller town.

Caroline: Sure.

Jason: The other kind of aligned point with this is that people just take longer for things. So it’s like at lunch, a lunch will be 2 hours here and you don’t bat an eye. And it’s just that’s the culture. And so two people who are coming from the United States where lunch is like kind of get the table turned as quickly as possible. And it’s not just lunch, it’s dinner as well. It’s breakfast, whatever. But lunch is the one that stands out for me because lunch was always like you’re there. It’s like 15, 20, 30 minutes tops at a lunch, unless you’re at a super fancy lunch place and then you’re gone. Here, it’s like you could eat it just like a sandwich place, but lunch is still going to take 2 hours.

Caroline: Which I really like because it just reminds me, like, you’re not trying to extract every moment and second out of every day, which is something that we’ll get into in this podcast about managing the kind of dichotomy of wanting to have goals and wanting to be in the pursuit of those goals while also being happy where you are and not trying to eke out every single moment towards the pursuit of that goal. And where do you find that happy medium? But I like that because I like living in a place where if your general disposition is to be a very forward motion type of person, it pays to live in a place that kind of can be those breaks for you.

Jason: Absolutely.

Caroline: And I feel like the culture here can be those breaks for us. I mean, listen, we’ve spent many years trying to put those breaks in place, which I think we do have now within ourselves.

Jason: I think it’s just easier here.

Caroline: But it is easier because you’re not constantly being confronted with a reality that doesn’t match up to your own internal pace. It’s like, oh, this feels nice. This is the pace I want to live at. I love that.

Jason: The next one on the list, I was going to mention and you have a side quest for this, is the language thing. So coming from a country where you speak the language and everyone speaks the language in the United States to now moving here where Portuguese is the language and our language is the secondary language. It is just a little bit uncomfortable to always be on edge when you walk into a place of like, I don’t speak this language fluently yet, and it won’t be for a couple of years. I’m going to have to fumble. And it’s not like when you’re traveling, you’re like, I only have to fumble for like a week or two. This is like every single day of my life. If I go to a place, there’s going to be a slight fumble. Now you get used to it. And they’re not as difficult.

Caroline: Totally. And I’ve been amazed at how differently I feel walking into new places compared to when we first got here. That anxiety barrier is so much lower because it’s just you do it in repetition enough times and it goes fine enough times that you just go, oh, but you’re right, you do kind of have to be… like the best way I can describe it is you’re less on autopilot.

Jason: Right.

Caroline: Because if you’re in your home country, you are walking into places all the time. You’re walking in Target, you’re interacting with people, and it’s never even really on your mind of, I’m not going to be able to communicate with this person, or I’m going to have to try really hard in this interaction. But there is that here. But you do get used to it over time. But I look at the flip side of that, which is there’s this element of daily life that is so delightful to me with the language. And again, I think this goes back to I’m someone who likes to learn, and I like learning new things and skills. And I had always wanted to learn a second language, but it was always like a nice to have, not a need to have. And so the amount of time and consistent dedication that you have to put in in order to really make progress is such that I would just get distracted and I just wouldn’t do it. But here, it’s a need to have. It’s not nice to have.

Jason: Yeah. You have a solid reason.

Caroline: The most motivating reason to keep continue with the language…

Jason: And one of which is if we want to get full citizenship here, which will take five years through the process of doing it, you do have to take a language test.

Caroline: Right.

Jason: Which I think is… Do you remember the grade level that it essentially is?

Caroline: I do not.

Jason: I think it’s like fifth grade. You have to be able to speak like a fifth grader. It may be even less than that. Please don’t quote me on that.

Caroline: It’s so cool. We’ve been taking lessons for seven weeks, seven weeks now. And we just went to a restaurant the other day where they were like, oh, sorry, we don’t have the English menu yet. And the fact that I can read everything on the menu there.

Jason: Not everything. Yeah, we had to look up a couple…

Caroline: Of course, there are a couple of words I don’t know. Eggplant was a new one for me.

Jason: Yeah, grilled. Like the way that they wrote grilled.

Caroline: But the fact that I can read 75% of this menu and it doesn’t feel like I’m just looking at a bunch of jumbled letters, which I remember is how it felt.

Jason: Oh, yeah, because you get handed the menu and you’re like, I don’t know what any of these things are. And then now we get handed, we’re like, okay, that’s chicken. That’s shrimp. That’s going to be salad. It’s like, you can kind of decipher those things.

Caroline: And it’s so exciting to me. Same with like… I told you, I started… Just like when you see signs or you see messages.

Jason: You love reading signs too. You really love reading signs. Even back in the US. You were reading signs left and right.

Caroline: I do love reading signs. And so there’s just this element of daily life that I didn’t have before, which is like, I’m having like, a cultural experience just by existing every day. And that’s cool.

Jason: Yeah. I think the last item to talk about would just be kind of like shopping in general, and online shopping as part of the…

Caroline: That is a big difference, I would say.

Jason: It’s a very big difference. So here there really isn’t a thing like Target. The grocery stores are much smaller, but I will say that they are packed with, in some grocery stores have a lot more international items than others. So you’re not really like, wanting for things. But there are definitely some things that you’re just not going to get at the grocery store that you would get in the US, which you could argue, like, maybe you don’t need those things. But I would say that the online shopping experience here is kind of like the biggest, most drastic thing that I noticed. So even though there is Amazon here, it’s not the same amount of things. It’s not the same price of things. I remember you were looking at, like, a wooden wine rack holder, and the cheapest one you could find was like, €180, and you’re like, what? This is like a $12 thing? But it’s because the only one that’s available is, like, in Spain, and it would take like three weeks to ship here.

Caroline: But it’s like a good thing. It’s like, I don’t know, making some things harder to get makes you have to think twice about whether you really want them. And I think that’s really good. Another thing that I just kind of picked up on recently, which I think is probably obvious, but it’s so much more of a small business mentality, and I kind of miss that. I feel like even where we lived in Carlsbad, California, you would go into what they call the Village, and you’d have these little kind of like a local furniture store and a local clothing boutique and a local… but it was more like, oh, isn’t that quaint? Most people are probably going to go to Target. Most people are going to go to the big box stores. Here, it’s like, oh, no.

Jason: That’s it. Those are the stores.

Caroline: Right, exactly. It’s like, oh, I’m going to go into town and buy shoes at the local shoe shop.

Jason: Exactly.

Caroline: Or like, I’m going to go buy my meat at the local butcher.

Jason: And you do have… I ordered some Nike trail shoes.

Caroline: You can get them.

Jason: Because my feet are gigantic, I really have to order my shoes online. But that’s a big change for me. I used to shop on Zappos all the time for shoes, which was great in the US. And now here’s the thing. I could order the shoes from Zappos to here. Two things. Number one, I don’t think I need to be shipping my shoes all the way across an ocean. That seems wasteful. Number two, I also don’t want to pay the import fees, because you have to pay 23% on whatever the price of the package is when it gets here, which we found out by one package that we had sent over, that we were like, okay, that was a huge mistake and lesson learned, which you now understand why when people go back to the US from any country in Europe, and they fill a suitcase with stuff like, I get it now. I get it because now that makes a lot more sense because you’re coming back over with your things anyway. Don’t ship them. Don’t pay the tax. Anyway, those are just a couple of different things. A couple of things that are the same. We go for walks every day. We enjoy the weather. We sit on the couch for many, many hours. But we also are getting back into a lot of work things, which is, I think, what we want to talk about in this episode is trying to balance out this new season of life that we’re in. And I think one of the things that you said that I think would be a good place to start this is right now, is the most excited you’ve been… I’m putting words inside your mouth.

Caroline: Directly inside my mouth.

Jason: Just direct. The deets are on the table, folks. Oh, really quickly. Very, very quickly. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Very quickly.

Caroline: Wow. What a cliffhanger.

Jason: Also in Europe, a different thing. This is not necessarily just Portugal.

Caroline: Okay, we’re back in the pramble.

Jason: Just real quick, real quick, real quick. For all my bakers out there.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: I don’t think those of you who are in the US understand what strong wheat flour is. Like, I had always heard people say that in recipes. But you really can’t buy higher protein content flour. Even if it is, it’s not that much higher. The higher protein content flour is like, 3% higher, which doesn’t seem like much.

Caroline: Here?

Jason: Yeah, here. But that loaf of bread…

Caroline: You’re doing the thing where you’re just…

Jason: That’s okay. Just track with me.

Caroline: Keep words inside your mouth, but they need to come outside.

Jason: That loaf of bread that I made. What did I tell you all day yesterday when I was working on it? I was like, this is the easiest bread I’ve ever handled. This is like the fluffiest dough I’ve ever used. And it’s a whole world of difference. So if you just love baking, move to Europe so you can get the higher protein percentage flour. Don’t ship it over. Move your entire life over. It’s worth it.

Caroline: Just come for that. People are going to be like, Oh, what brought you to Portugal? The higher protein flour.

Jason: Yeah, that’s it. Okay. I know you could probably import it or whatever.

Caroline: We dipped back and now we’re back into the episode.

Jason: So the words I was putting inside of your face were, this is the most right now is the most excited you have been to work on our businesses since 2018 when we first brought the idea of Wandering Aimfully to life and we’re working on it before we got derailed and it took forever.

Caroline: Right.

Jason: And then before that was probably what, 2014, when you were making Made Vibrant?

Caroline: Probably.

Jason: So it’s like three inflection points on the graph of the excitement levels of work and your life. And you can see the spikes, which is kind of fun.

Caroline: But it’s making me feel weird, which is why I wanted to record this entire episode because I told Jason, I was like…

Jason: That’s me, by the way.

Caroline: It’s you. I’m having this internal interesting tension right now where the dominant feeling that I have is just, I am so excited for our business. I love working on our business right now. I have so many ideas. Every day I wake up with ideas. Every day I wake up with opportunities that I see. Every day I wake up with a desire to work towards those things.

Jason: Which I think is also like when you figure something out in business. I think we figured WAIM out and what it is with the monthly coaching. We just last month was our 42nd monthly coaching live coaching session. That’s four two, 42nd session. When you do something for three plus years, it means you figured it out, right? Now that I think we got done with the year of travel where we didn’t do anything but just keep up with those sessions. And we kind of just coasted by as much as we could. Now we’re in a stationary place, we have all this time to think. And I think it’s also one of those things where it’s like, okay, we’ve done the same thing over and over again. We’re looking for a new spark of something and we’ve found it.

Caroline: Exactly. And that is the season of business, right? But if I’m being honest, I think a couple of things I think happened the last few years because I think the last few years we really leaned much more to the other side of like, you don’t have to be working all the time. You don’t have to be as excited about your business. You can live more and you can kind of be okay with it being more into maintenance mode and you don’t have to have these big gigantic goals and dreams that you’re working towards. And I still believe all of that. It’s very much the enough framework and just being satisfied with where you are in life. And that’s all true. But I think that was also a function of where I was in my personal growth journey, which was coming off of this awful year of terrible anxiety, trying to heal that, realizing that truly I can’t run myself. The consequences of swinging the pendulum to the other way of working so hard are dire, and I can never go back there because it’s very bad for me. And so I needed to kind of reassemble the pieces of my reality in a way where I could go, okay, this is what I believe. I believe enough is what I’m aiming for, and you don’t have to want these big things. And all that’s true. And it felt good because it fit into where I was in my life. Right. And I needed that. And also with the year of travel, I needed to focus on just living life instead of being so focused on the business. But what’s happening now is that I feel like I sort of reassembled that as my worldview and work view. And the mistake I think I made was thinking that that was somehow the right way to view the world when there is no right way. It’s just that was the way that worked for me and where I was in my life at that time.

Jason: Exactly.

Caroline: And I sincerely hope that if I go back and listen to some of those podcast episodes or the coaching sessions, I hope that we did a good job of making it clear that that is just one path. And it’s not the only path, but what’s happening now is now that I’m experiencing my life in a new way, which is I feel so excited about work and I feel so excited about ideas. I’m feeling this tension because I’m going, well, is that completely at odds with this whole idea of enough? And am I just chasing more? And I find myself in this. But what I know is so true is that it’s not coming from a place of needing to chase after something. It’s coming from a place of wanting to experience growth and wanting to work towards a goal. Does that make sense?

Jason: Yeah. And one of the things that comes to mind for me in this is… so in 2018, when we started Wandering Aimfully, we set an enough number for our business, and we had a very public journey to get to that number. And it took us three years, and we got to that number. And if you want to read it, if you haven’t read it before, it’s just wanderingaimfully.com/330 is the short URL, I’ll put it in the show notes as well. And that three year journey to get to that number really looked kind of like a five year journey before really reassessing that number. And maybe four year journey is more appropriate. But I think even going back to 2018 us, we never set out that this would be our enough number forever. And I think that’s a big part of just the enough mindset is like, it’s enough for right now, and it’s enough to get me through this next phase of my life to get to whatever it is I want to get to next and then I can decide what that looks like. So for us, that number really made sense from a business and financial standpoint because we had very specific goals that we ironed out, which are in that post. But those goals have now changed. And so having a bigger financial goal now that we reassessed is necessary because we want to buy a house. And so we need to save up money to be able to buy a house.

Caroline: And we want to have kids and our parents are getting older. These are all the things.

Jason: But there’s also, there’s also a big reality here, just living in Europe as people who are not citizens of these countries, we have to put down more money than we would in the US. And I’m talking about, again, just round numbers. I’m not saying these are the numbers that we’re spending on buying a house, but if we were going to buy a million dollar house in the US, we would really only have to put down 10%. Like, you can get a mortgage and only put 10% down. In Europe, we have to put down 30% to 40%. There’s just no ifs, ands or buts, because you will not get approved for any more money than that in a mortgage. So those are just round numbers show through. I’m not saying that’s what we’re going to buy a house for, but that changes our enough number specifically because we have to save up more money.

Caroline: Yeah, and to me it’s funny because it’s not even about the number. This is how our brains work differently, right? For you, it’s like the enough number. For me, it’s like the enough mindset. And so the reason I wanted to share this episode is just because I like taking all of our listeners along on the journey as we change our perspectives on things. I think it’s really healthy to change your perspective. I think it’s really healthy to kind of just when you think you’ve got something figured out about life, I think you’re going to arrive at a point where you go, oh, well, maybe I could think about this differently. And I guess the adjustment that I’m making to the way that I think about this is I don’t want these two ideas to be at odds with one another. Like this idea of ambition and this idea of enough. I don’t think that they are two separate camps. I think they are this spectrum that each person can manage in their own life. And like, I told you about this quote that I remember from Esther Perrell who says and she’s talking about in marriage, this human need for managing, like basically having both adventure and novelty and also safety and security. And a lot of people fall into the trap of thinking if they have one, that there’s a problem because they need the other. But she’s like, what does she say? I wrote it down. Think of this as a paradox to manage, not a problem to solve.

Jason: Right.

Caroline: And that is so empowering to me because that’s how I think about the idea of this paradox of how can you be someone who is striving to grow for yourself and for your business, striving towards goals, and be someone who is satisfied and allows yourself to be content and allows yourself to be enough? And at the same time, how is that possible? And I just think it’s a paradox that every person gets to manage for themselves and yeah, so I’ve just been thinking a lot about it lately, and what I know is that it feels really good to feel excited about our business right now. How lucky am I that I get to wake up and like the work that I’m doing? And I don’t want to hold myself back from that. Granted. Now, here’s my caveat. I do think that as someone, like I said, who did have a real crash and burn moment in 2019 with my anxiety and my health and all of that, I’m very aware that I can’t let the pendulum swing so far into the work camp that I run myself down.

Jason: Like dreaming about all the business things.

Caroline: Yeah, I told Jason my…

Jason: Pushing the limits.

Caroline: I always know when I am… when I need to put on the brakes. Because when I dream about business, that might sound like a great idea, like, oh, dreams. No, it’s like figuring out business problems in my sleep. And I’m like, that’s not good for my brain to be chewing on that. I just want cool dreams and real deep sleep. So I always know that that’s when I have to kind of put the brakes on just a little bit and then I set rules for myself. Things like, okay, no… because especially when I’m in this phase right now where business is so exciting, I gravitate towards that content rather than entertainment. So I won’t spend an hour at night Netflixing. I will spend an hour at night watching business YouTube videos.

Jason: Or Survivor. Like, not getting any of your viewership right now.

Caroline: I can’t get Survivor over here, Jason, and it’s a real sad state of affairs.

Jason: I didn’t know this was a hot topic here.

Caroline: Yeah, I might just buy the season on Amazon Prime. Honestly.

Jason: I’m so sorry.

Caroline: I know. It’s really sad.

Jason: Well, I can’t get the Great Pottery Throwdown, which I would like to watch. I haven’t watched a single episode, but I’d like to.

Caroline: We should just go back.

Jason: Pfft. Yeah, that’s it. Why’d you guys move back?

Caroline: Well, Survivor. I couldn’t get our shows.

Jason: Couldn’t get our programs. Yeah, I think the Esther Perrell quote is a good one. And it very much reminded me before you told me that quote, of just this whole idea of what everybody talks about when it comes to the idea of balance in work and life is like, it’s not a destination to get to. It’s a journey that you’re going to be on.

Caroline: And we’ve talked about this on the podcast. People went through a real phase where they were like, balance doesn’t exist. Balance is… This is a myth, blah blah. And I’m like, I get it where you’re coming from and like cool. But I just always was so confused because I was like, whoever made it sound like balance was like a static thing? It was always so obviously a dynamic… It was never a destination, it was a verb. You know what I’m saying? Like trying to balance things is you’re always going to be doing that.

Jason: Yeah. And I really do think we’ve talked about this too, just like the seasonality of your desire and interest and how much energy you have and how many ideas you have. Like last year, the entire year was not a season of, and we said this, growth or ideation or anything because we just didn’t have the mental space to do it. There just wasn’t the time or energy to do it because every single week it’s like, hey, we just got to figure out how to make sure we can repack our bags and get on a plane and go somewhere else.

Caroline: Well, here’s another insight that I just had of trying to unpack this feeling of like, why do I feel somehow guilty for being into work right now? And I think there’s also a part of me that feels a sense of responsibility towards our listeners who might be in the season where I was where they’re like, my capacity is such that I am not excited about business right now because I quite frankly can’t devote any resources toward business. You know what I mean?

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: And I know that those people have found a haven in our podcast and in our content because it gives them a permission slip to not try to be like all the other business advice tell them… All the other business advice givers out there tell them to be, which is go harder and go faster and dream bigger. I like being that permission slip for people to just kind of dream at their own pace and their own capacity, but I find myself somehow guilty. I don’t want those people to now feel like they need to aspire to where we are in this season, which is…

Jason: We can’t control that, right?

Caroline: I know. Well, that’s where I have to go one step deeper and go, here I am again trying to take responsibility for other people’s feelings, which is a thing that I struggle with and have worked on. But it’s not just that. I think there is a very real part where I know it’s not my responsibility, but I also want those people to know that it is a seasonal thing and it’s not an all or nothing thing.

Jason: Yeah, totally. I mean, I think there’s also something to be said for like there’s a time and place in your life for when you are really excited about things or whatever it is, even just like podcasts or YouTube or whatever. And then there’s a time where you’re like, that doesn’t really do it for me anymore.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: And it has nothing to do with the person and their content or whatever and what’s going on in their life. It’s more of just like this ran its course. I find myself like, I’ve looked through my subscriptions on YouTube recently and I’m like, man, I don’t watch any of this stuff. And a lot of it’s because it’s travel content and it’s because in 2021, my YouTube changed totally to travel content. And now I’m like, I don’t really need any of this because I don’t want to travel. We traveled and I’m not interested. And I think there’s going to be folks who listen to our podcast and they’re like, oh, you guys are going to start talking about all these ideas and all these things you’re doing and what happened to just doing enough and whatever? And it’s like, yeah, but you have to understand, our version of enough has changed from especially last year when we could barely do anything. So we’ve talked about this creative dam that has built up. We both are just feeling so excited about all these different things that we want to do. And it’s not because some arbitrary financial goal that we’re just now all of a sudden excited about. It’s because our enough number has changed, but it’s also because we haven’t been able to really do much in our business for over a year, year and a half. And now we’re just excited.

Caroline: And for us, it all does come back to creativity, right? That’s why we got into this line of work in the first place was we wanted a container that could support our creative ideas, which is what entrepreneurship does. And so I do think it all kind of goes back to that because our creativity is what’s leading us to this excitement because we keep talking about new ideas, right? It’s not like we’ve set a goal and now we’re trying… It’s like, no, it’s coming out of our cores because we just have had this creative dam that’s built up. But yeah, I’m working on what is a mantra that I can say to myself or what is a way that I can remind myself that it’s not either or…

Jason: Do you think it’s like, Work is cool. Dot, dot, dot, like something like that?

Caroline: I think that would be a really good one. But I think a second option, I’m working towards this idea of satisfied striving, that’s what I’m going to call it for myself, which is a way of operating in the world where I allow myself to want to strive towards growth because I think that’s always going to be who I am. But along that journey, I make sure to check in with myself and I am also simultaneously satisfied with where I am and have gratitude for the things I have rather than constantly focusing on what I don’t have. And to me, that’s a place that feels good for me. And it’s like the whole balance thing, it’s a verb. It’s a way of being every day and approaching my work every day. And also, when it’s all said and done, what I know is that I have to allow myself to be authentic in what I’m really feeling in my life and what I really need. And there was a season where being authentic to myself meant allowing myself to not be excited about work because I needed to take care of me, and I needed to not put pressure on myself to build or do anything. But what authentic, I think, looks like for me, in this season of life is authentically allowing myself to be excited about our work.

Jason: Yeah. And I do think, too, going back to our episode on purpose that we recorded, however long ago that was, we are two people where and I don’t know if this is going to change when we have kids, but obviously they become more important than our business. Maybe? I don’t know, maybe for one of us. But it’s this idea that we get so much personal value and validation through the problem solving and the puzzle building that is business that I don’t know that that’s ever going to go away because that’s just like that’s a DNA thing that you can’t tell someone to have. Whereas there are some folks who listen to this who are like, having your own business is just a means to an end to have more hours in the day for you to be able to spend doing the things that actually give you purpose.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: Whereas for us, it’s like, it’s a nice byproduct that we get to make money from this, but really we love solving the puzzles.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: And the puzzles are what get us most excited when it’s like we have a new business idea, and we’ve now just thrown all the puzzle pieces onto the table, and we’re like, okay, all right, well, I’ll start with the edges, and then let’s go to the bright color part, and then let’s see how we can build it from there.

Caroline: Yeah. Lately, I’ve gotten so much satisfaction out of we keep running into these little roadblocks. And you said the other day we were on a walk, you were like, It’s like a Rubik’s Cube. Like, we just got to keep twisting it until we line up the colors. And we went on this walk, which is our daily walk, and we just chatted about business, and we talked about this idea, and we were like, what if it’s this? And, oh, that doesn’t work because of this reason. And by the time we had gotten home, we were both like, what if it’s this? And it felt like we had twisted the Rubik’s Cube into a place where the three colors lined up, not the full cube.

Jason: We don’t have all nine colors.

Caroline: But three colors lined up. And it was like the most…

Jason: Six? Nine? What’s a Rubik’s Cube look like?

Caroline: It’s got nine by nine by nine.

Jason: Oh, thank God. I got it right.

Caroline: And it was so fun. We were like… We were like, best walk ever. Solving the puzzle, just one piece of the puzzle, was so satisfying to us that I was like, this is what I’m getting joy out of right now.

Jason: Yeah. And I hope this episode is helpful for folks who are either in the same boat that we are, where you’re in the striving…?

Caroline: Season.

Jason: Season of this, but also for the other folks who are in the satisfied season of this, where you’re like, oh, you know what? I was doing all this stuff, but now this happened in my life, and I can’t and that’s okay.

Caroline: Or I don’t want to.

Jason: Yeah. We’re not here to judge that you have to live your life one way or the other. We’re just here to share our lives and what we’re going through. And for hopefully you to be able to walk away from this episode and just go, yeah, you know what? I’m really happy with the path that I’m on, or I don’t need to feel guilty if I’m going this direction because I get to choose my own direction anyway. It doesn’t matter what other people are doing.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: I can be fine with whatever that direction is.

Caroline: Totally. And I hope that we can continue to share how our outlook changes or how we’re trying to manage both parts of that paradox because I don’t want to swing so far to the other direction that we forget everything we learned about the importance of enough because it has brought so much value to our lives. And I think there is a way to do business where you’re not… Certainly will never, I feel very confident in saying that we’ll never be those business people who try to extract every dollar of profit, you know what I’m saying? At the expense of our lifestyle or our customers or any of those things. We’re always going to be those people who remember that what is it all for? It’s to live a good life and to make a positive impact and to learn things along the way. So at the very least, even if you’re in a satisfied season and we’re in a striving season, I hope you’ll continue to tune in and learn about what we’re learning on that journey. And I’m sure it’ll be, before we know it, another season where the theme is something different.

Jason: Oh, yeah. And I think that’s just part of, again, sharing this idea that, like Esther Perrell said, the paradox to manage not a problem to solve. We’re just here to manage this. We’re managing the flow of things. We’re managing the ideas, we’re managing the seasons that we’re in, and those things are going to change, and we’re never going to get to a place where we just have it all figured out and it’s all perfect. It’s like, oh, no, this changed. And now we do that.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: That’s just life.

Caroline: So that’s where we’re at these days.

Jason: Cool. I think that’s it. Look at that.

Caroline: Podcasts are cool.

Jason: Way shorter. We went way shorter today. Which we’ll see how that continues because, again, we got the launch recap next week. So that might be a little bit of a longer ep again.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: All right, that’s it for this episode.

Caroline: Satisfiedstrivingg. That’s what I’m doing.

Jason: Cool. Talk to you guys soon. And by soon…

Caroline: I almost wanted to say love you. Bye.

Jason: You do this sometimes. Yeah.

Caroline: I love you.

Jason: Okay, that’s weird. Goodbye.

The “Satisfied Striving” Paradox: Balancing Enough with Striving Towards Growth

(Big Fat Takeaway)

Balance is not static; it's dynamic. Your version of enough can change depending on the season of life that you're in.

IT IT

This article written by

Jason Zook

(he/him) Co-head-hancho of this WAIM thing. I used to wear t-shirts for a living, now I just wear them because I'm not a nudist. You can usually find me baking things, watching JCVD movies, and dreaming of living on an island.

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