How do you define success? It’s a question Courtney Martin asked herself and others while writing her book, The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream, which attempts to help all of us think about redefining our measures of success. She encourages us to “reject the tired narratives about success” because our motives and lives will change when we shift our focus, instead, to community.

The New Better Off most succinctly is realizing that our quality of life is more determined by the quality of our relationships than by our own individual achievements as we’ve historically thought about it,” Courtney says. “It’s more about meaning, relationships, community and fulfillment – as opposed to status and stuff.”

The book asks questions many of us have asked ourselves, and it challenges what many of us have come to accept as the status quo. One of our favorite lines in Courtney’s book is: “I don’t want to get a good job, a house with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids and then just go to sleep.” Host Polina Selyutin speaks with Courtney about this desire for meaning, purpose and community in our lives and a fear of where the traditional path can lead us in episode 46 of I Want Her Job: The Podcast.

Other topics of discussion include how the traditional 9-to-5 job structure created in the ‘50’s for those without caretaking responsibilities simply doesn’t work in the world we live in today. (For example, by the year 2020 it’s estimated that half the workforce will be freelance, she cites.) 

We also discuss her decision to put community first by living in a co-housing community in Oakland, Calif., where individuals practice radical hospitality by dining together weekly, sharing homeownership activities and helping one another. And if you aren’t the co-housing type, Courtney shares ideas on how similar principals of community housing can be easily integrated into our lives – from hikes with family and friends to group dinners. After all, Courtney says, the relationships in our lives are the things that make us the happiest.