One of the things I had to do as an adult was learn to see what makes a good job. Some people intuitively know how to find a job that feels good. Most of us spend the first half of our lives trying to learn what feels right and the second half of our lives trying to get it. Maybe this post can speed up that process for some of you.

The bottom line of a good job is that it makes you feel like you have unlimited energy for your work because it’s so fulfilling. Psychologists would say the job matches your personality type. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would say it puts you in the state of flow. However you approach the idea of a good job, though, The Economist presents research to show that good work has these four components: Read more

How to get the guts to buck a trend

For the last three months I’ve been working in my garden about six hours a day. I dug up an acre of land.

The first thing I did was plant a vegetable garden that is 50 yards long and 10 yards wide. I planted everything I had ever seen people grow in my area. Next I added paths and walls and stairs and bridges. I spent the majority of my time as a new mom in New York City wandering around the Brooklyn Botanical Garden trying to figure out what to do with my life, napping among the cherry blossom trees with my son. So it’s not surprising that I found myself subconsciously turning my acre into a miniature of that garden. There are twenty different rose bushes. Twenty varieties of peonies. I drove eight hours to bring home obscure types of hydrangeas. Read more

The career passion myth and how it derails you

You do not need to have a life full of passion. What is that life, anyway?

You probably don’t even know what passion is. But if you really thought about what you were aiming for when you talk about passion and careers, eventually you’d get to the idea of engagement.

This is not a controversial thought: that you would want to be engaged in your work. Engagement is one of the most important aspects of your worklife. Almost every study about what makes people happy at work comes down to engagement. Read more

Melissa’s in China, which means I have to wake up at four in the morning to talk, which means we have no phone calls, and her emails are unsatisfyingly delayed.

I miss her. She is with Steven, who I think is buying her a ring.

How I decide where to focus my energy

Going to China with Steven was a good idea because men love being in a foreign country with a woman who can speak the language. It’s similar to how men enjoy when a girl wears a wig or even a new necklace to have sex—they can pretend they are with someone new.  (I read this in Cosmo, which is great for women with Asperger’s because it’s a rule book for dealing with men.) Read more

My review of Seth Godin’s new book, Stop Stealing Dreams

Seth Godin just published an e-book about education called Stop Stealing Dreams. He talks about how schools stink, but that even though homeschooling appears to be a rational response to terrible schools, homeschooling is inefficient and unrealistic for most parents.

When I first saw this, I was stunned. Seth has built a career on telling people how to push past the status quo. In his book The Dip, which is my favorite, Seth taught us all how to do something really difficult.  In his book Linchpin, Seth asked us if we are doing something that really matters or just talking about it.

I can’t help thinking that Stop Stealing Dreams is his description of why homeschooling requires going through a dip, but he doesn’t want to do it. So instead of being a linchpin for homeschooing, Seth will be a naysayer. Seth is advocating the status quo: Lame-duck parent activists who delude themselves that their activism is meaningful. And people advocating for large-scale school reform without any blueprint whatsoever for how to educate such a wide range of students on such a large scale. This discussion is parental escapism. No parent, not even Seth, will solve the school problem before their kids are out of school.  Read more

This post is cross-posted at TechCrunch.

We need to get more guys who are running tech startups to decide instead to be stay-at-home dads.

What do you think of that? Stupid, right? That’s what it sounds like when anyone suggests that we need to get more women doing startups.

If you are worried that women don’t feel capable of doing whatever they want, you can stop worrying. Women outperform men in school at such a huge rate that it’s easier to get into college as a male than a female. And women take that to the bank by earning more than men in their 20s. Women would probably continue out-earning men except that when men and women have kids, women choose to downshift way more often than men do.

Clearly, women have a choice. There are plenty of opportunities out there for women if the women would just continue working in their 30s the same way they did in their 20s. So clearly, women don’t want to. Women are choosing children over startups. Read more

It is the night of the new nanny. She is maybe a nanny or maybe a Spanish teacher. It is unclear. She is a blog reader who told me she could help me.

Lots of people offer to come to the farm and help me get that mythic work-life balance that no one really has. But this woman said good things in her emails — that she worked with autistic kids, her native language is Spanish, she loves my blog. I hesitated. She said she has done this before, gone to someone’s house for a short time to help get the things back on track. So I said yes.

I had Spanish-speaking nannies in New York City. They are so easy to find there. It should be easy here, too. Darlington has a relatively large Hispanic community. They come to rural areas so the police leave them alone.

Here’s an interesting thing about the Hispanic community here. We are one of the only counties in the whole US that has a Hispanic population that is more educated than the white population. The white families have been here for forever, and they don’t take big risks—they grow up here and do exactly what their parents did. The Hispanic people have huge ambition, they took huge risks so their kids could grow up in the US and do great things, and they look down on the white people as hicks.

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I confess that I don’t feel like I’m working to my potential. And it makes me feel sick. I know the signs. It starts with me not being able to cope with my to-do list. It all looks too overwhelming. So I scale things back: I take out everything that has to do with starting a company.

The next stage of not living up to my potential is that I can’t read anything. I tried to read the New York Times magazine cover story about fixing a marriage. I can’t open it, though. The woman who is the author wrote about her own experience. Fuck. I should have posted about that.

I should have written the post about how our couples therapist fired us because neither of us seems to be capable of getting past our horrible childhoods long enough to connect with someone in a real way. He fired us but then I used my amazing negotiating skills to convince him to take us back and then I had a screaming fit in the therapist’s office and said he’s incompetent and doesn’t give us clear direction. It was a good moment, actually. Because now that I fired him, instead of him firing me, I am fulfilled in my need to ruin relationships with people all around me and I now I have space to let the Farmer get close to me. Read more

This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

Take a look at Steve Martin’s business card. I love it because it brings to light the lack of meaning we often feel during the daily routine of work life.

When I was new to the workforce, I saw two ends of a spectrum. On one end, risking one’s life to save dying children, and on the other end, hedge-fund banking to make millions.

If you see the work world that way, then you feel compelled to choose between making good money or doing good deeds. But at this point, I don’t think the world breaks down like that. I think all jobs are meaningful. Read more

My homeschool blog is mentioned in the New York Times. It’s a small mention, but it’s a big deal for me, because lately I’ve been obsessed with how people learn, and what makes a successful adult. It’s appropriate that the Times would link the day I wrote about what my day is like trying to homeschool and work full-time. It’s a colossal mess, really. But it’s a work in progress.

When things got really bad — me trying to do everything, and me having marriage trouble — Melissa said, “You need a vacation.” So the boys and Melissa and I went to Hermosa Beach. We stayed at a hotel called The Beach House. It’s right on the ocean, and it’s in front of volleyball courts I used to play on when I was on the pro circuit and too poor to stay in hotels as nice as this one.

I thought the best part of the vacation would be the hotel. It’s dreamy – with a perfect balcony and a fireplace, and soft thick towels that I never had to wash.

But it turned out that the best part was watching the kids learn. The hotel was the facilitator.

The first thing the kids did was line up their Pokemon everywhere so the place felt like home.

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