In Defense of Good Enough

The concept of “good enough” is one that has (and continues to) challenge me throughout my life. I wanted to be “the best” at everything and strove for perfection. This lead to immeasurable frustration, and countless hours of banging my head against the wall. Why? Perfection is an elusive bitch and impossible to obtain. Am I the only one with this struggle? Heck no.

One of Charlie’s dance teachers and I were talking the other day about getting ready for an upcoming dance competition. She shared that she rarely sleeps during the weekend of competitions because she stays up all night adding additional stones to costumes or tweaking choreography or adjusting hairpieces. We talked about how hard it is to know when the costume, routine or anything is “good enough” and to know when to stop. This is a challenge we all face in many ways. When is our house clean enough, our children well-behaved enough, our report well-written enough? How do we know when we are clear to stop?

What does “good enough” mean? There is the dictionary definition which is something like “adequately good for the circumstances”, but this is really vague because good enough means different things to different people. Let me give an example, in college I had the opportunity to live with MANY roommates over my many years (undergrad and grad school). One thing you quickly learn living with different people, is you all have very different ideas of what constitutes clean. When is it “good enough”? I had roommates who freaked out if there was a water glass left on the counter of an immaculate kitchen. I had roommates who weren’t concerned if there were mountains of dishes piled in the sink. Each of these people had concepts of what was “good enough”. You can imagine the conflict if I had lived with these two people at the same time. (For the record, I was somewhere between these two extremes).

We each have to come to our own definition of good enough for our own lives. We then need to come to terms to others’ reactions to our idea of good enough. They may be angry (as were my roommates by each other’s level of cleanliness) or frustrated or completely agree. Create your standards and be generous to yourself. Good enough can be as much as needs to get down to achieve a satisfactory result. Returning to my daughter’s dance teacher, good enough is a successful routine with a completed costume. Anything extra (even if it takes it closer to perfection) may be a waste of time and energy.

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