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Sometimes 'good enough' IS good enough

May 2nd, 2005 · 4 Comments

"Good enough" is usually better than "not at all"

Do you remember hearing things when you were young like "if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly"?  This has stood me in good stead in my working life, as I tend to give 110% to everything I do.  Employers like that – they’re getting real value for money.

But that tendency for perfection has a big downside.  I often err, especially in my private life, on the side of not doing a job at all, since I havent the time to ‘do it properly’.  Or I go the opposite way, looking for perfection.

In the past, my house has suffered dreadfully from this tendency for perfection – and so have I!  Once I start something (like a quick mop of the kitchen floor) I get on a roll, get obsessive about perfecting it – and then five hours later have finished scrubbing the floor by hand with a scourer and have a gorgeous kitchen floor, an aching back, sinuses stuffed from the cloudy ammonia I used, arms I cannot lift above my waist, bruised knees, a splitting headache and cannot move for three days!  (No, actually, I am NOT exaggerating!  I have actually done this – not once, but twice in the ongoing battle with the lino in my kitchen)

Then there is the opposite tendency.  Why do you think the kitchen floor got that bad in the first place?  A quick mop every few days would have solved the problem (and now does :) but thinking I didnt have time to ‘do it properly’, it got left.  And left.  And left.  And then I would do a marathon, and end up wearing myself out.

Do you have these perfectionist tendencies?  Are there little voices in your head telling you you’ve got to do it perfectly?  That the house isnt clean unless it takes a whole day and then some?

I’d like to challenge you to think that ‘good enough’ IS better than ‘not at all’, and will save you from the marathon sessions trying to do everything perfectly.

What is it you could do ‘good enough’ today, tomorrow, this week, that would make a difference in your life? 

  • Could you just vacuum the middle of the floor (forget under furniture, or the skirting boards) and just get rid of the obvious dirt, dust and cat hair? 
  • Could you let go of having to read every email in your in-box and instead just delete the ones that are obviously NOT important? 
  • What about just popping on your joggers and walking up and down your street (or even your driveway) 5 times, instead of doing no exercise because you havent got time to perfectly go to the gym or take a cross country hike?
  • Release that report, essay, book, letter or special email without a hundred rewrites – proof it once, run the spell checker and then press SEND?

I’d love to have your ideas on what you are doing to avoid that perfectionist in you – please add comments or send me an email…

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Leah // May 3, 2005 at 8:06 am

    I completely agree Karen! There is a saying that I came across many years ago that I have used for myself and my clients to great effect ” A little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing”.

  • 2 Chris // May 6, 2005 at 5:20 pm

    i’m heading off now to just pick up the most obvious clumps of malted dog hair. Bugger the vaccuuming!

  • 3 Chris // May 6, 2005 at 5:20 pm

    Oops i think I meant moulted

  • 4 Leah // May 10, 2005 at 3:35 pm

    I think I prefer the malted dog Chris – Goes well with a vanilla kitten :o )

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