When is “good” good enough?

it’s not who you are that holds you back…by valentinadesign – click image for more info

Play big! Set lofty goals! Never compromise!

The Twitterverse is ablaze with voices encouraging us to do what we do bigger and better. Sometimes I’m one of those voices. Other times I appreciate, and even need, to be pushed to think and act beyond what I perceive I am capable of.

But there is a flipside.

There’s an implication that what you’re doing is not enough; that you, your ideas, and their execution are small. Lacking. The fix? You must think/do bigger! Go big or go home.

Well, the trouble is, some people go home. Paralyzed by the two options, Big or Home, they choose Home.

What if I can’t make it to Big? If I don’t, then I’ll fail.

Here’s the thing: Big doesn’t stand a chance if you’re not willing to start with Good. The thing you’re passionate about? Do it Well, and expand to Big. But do it.

I don’t champion mediocrity, but sometimes Good is good enough. Or at ┬áleast a good start.

Sometimes it’s ok buy the table at IKEA instead of making it out of an old door.
Sometimes it’s ok to buy the cookies instead of baking them from scratch.
Sometimes it’s ok to put in a day of good work instead of exceptional work.

When is “good” good enough for you, and when do you strive for excellence?

38 thoughts on “When is “good” good enough?

  1. I asked a question on the call with Tara and Bernadette Jiwa last night. This and Create as Folk are as close to my answer as I can hope for!!! Thanks Tara, Bernadette and Laura!!!

  2. oh that’s so true! sometimes we don’t even start with good because we get too intimidated with great or amazing. we stop before we even start! i know i do that! it’s a hard balance to let yourself just try and be happy with whatever the outcome is. i think sometimes we expect way too much out of ourselves, especially as women. I know i do that all the time.

  3. Good enough FOR NOW, is how I look at it. There is always room for improvement, but perfection can be paralyzing. You can always get better, but finding yourself stuck in place while striving for perfection will never get you anywhere. I prefer keep moving to standing in place. Besides, perfect (BIG) is not constant. It evolves. What I consider perfect today, can become mediocre tomorrow, due to new discoveries, new research, new skills acquired.

    1. Hi Aga! So glad you brought up iteration & evolution. We think of “perfect” as objective but it’s not. We are constantly reinventing perfection and therefore we have to be gentle with ourselves and our goals while striving for what’s next.

  4. I always have to remind myself that I can always go back and improve/revise what I’ve done. Sometimes it’s better for me to move on to the next thing than to be stuck making one step “great”, instead of leaving it at “good.”

  5. Amen! An example from my life: I applied for several regional summer art festivals. This week I’ve gotten word that out of the top three that I was really hoping for, I got accepted into one. So for the last couple of days I’ve waffled between being disappointed and proud…I’m going to put an end to it and decide that the results were good enough! (For this year!)

  6. You will always get better at everything the more that you do it. However, you have to start and keep showing up. I often find it really refreshing and encouraging to look back at things and see how far it is I’ve actually come instead of always focussing on how far I would like to go… baby steps.

    Besides, it would be pretty boring if you could just do anything the first time… where’s the learning and growth in that. :)

  7. First of all, let me say, I looove reading your blog. There’s always good stuff here.

    And second, I once had a mentor tell me, “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing wrong.” A nice spin on the ol’ “It’s worth doing well” saying. His point was that it’s better to try and fail than never to try at all. Something that I, as a perfectionist, have to force myself to do.

  8. This is soooo true–we should always be moving and working toward bigger, better things…but sometimes we need to focus on being kind to ourselves reward ourselves, and remember what’s ‘good enough’. I often get stuck in the rut of thinking I can DIY everything–and your points about ‘it’s okay to buy the table from Ikea/buy the cookies’ totally rang true for me. I think it’s important to work hard and focus on the things that are the most worthwhile to us. If we strive for perfection in EVERY aspect of our life (heck, in any aspect of our lives) then we’re sure to burn out in the process. I think it all comes down to being kind to ourselves, reward ourselves, and focusing on what’s really important to us in life!

  9. This is exactly what I needed to read today and I’m so glad I’ve found this blog. I’m learning to not look too far ahead, just one project at a time rather than a bit of everything at once. This way I am taking small steps rather than trying to be my best at absolutely everything 24/7.

  10. Wonderful insights! I also find that I have so many ideas in my mind that I can totally stall out and do nothing about any of them. I can’t decide which is the best idea for me to pursue. Sometimes I think I like thinking about all this rather than doing.

    We can have fear of failure, but we can also have fear of success. If I create the awesome things I have in mind, what if I do a really good job, and lots of people want me to do it again? Will I have time? Can I follow through? Will I be totally stressed out by it?

    Like others have said, I find I should just keep moving, baby steps.

  11. LeAllyson, I also suffer from an abundance of ideas :) Sometimes it’s hard to trust that they’re all good and just pick one and go, but it always works well when I do.

  12. Just what I need to hear, Laura. I struggle with my perfectionism and have been wanting to blog about it for months but have this paralysing fear holding me back from doing it. Yep, I head ‘home’. Thanks to you, that’s now going to be my next post. Pinky promise! J x

  13. I have a *really* hard time with this one. I’ve always had a strong perfectionist streak, even stretching back to elementary school. The need to be the best rears its ugly head a lot in my life. But I’m learning to tame it and be at peace with “good enough.” If I overextend myself in an effort to be the best at everything, I’m not going to be even decent at anything. Specialization: that’s the key.

    But it’s also worth noting that I still feel like I’m “failing” if I don’t succeed right away (or in the manner I think I should). I’m taking my first steps to starting a real, serious, heart-business right now, and I’m struggling to remember that “good enough” is okay, even in this arena.

    1. Ellie, I’m the same way with wanting to succeed at things quickly. Just like so many things, I think it takes practice to break this habit. Making it doubly difficult for us, huh??

      I try to focus on what success or accomplishment I AM making and focusing less on how I’m falling short.

  14. This is so true. I first heard it put this way “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”. It struck me so strongly that I’ve tried to bear it in mind ever since. Not so easy, since like many of the commenter above, I’m a perfectionist at heart.

    It’s always a fine balance…putting out quality work in a timely fashion vs. working away on it forever and never finishing.

    My answer to big or go home, is be small and very successful – according to my very carefully thought-out definition of success!

  15. Yes!
    I have tried over the last few months to do everything and anything, which was good in a way because at last I was acting on my ideas.
    However, I ended up exhausted and sick two weeks ago. I heard my body telling me enough.

    So I’m backing off a little, doing what I can, one step at a time.

    One thing I haven’t stopped though: teaching yoga. I’m training to be a teacher, and I’ve had opportunities to teach privates and cover for one of my teachers. I got scared, thinking I was not good enough. But I said yes, because people needed this service from me. I figured I would teach what I know, and I know enough to do people some good. So there you go, I am your next-door yoga teacher :)

  16. LOVE this. I didn’t even realize that perfectionism is what is holding me back. I get “just do something” from all of this. Thank you thank you ladies for your wise words of wisdom. BTW, the image is by valentinadesign is lovely.

  17. ‘and He said it was Good.’

    Not to get to theological, but if the biblical Creator of all things was okay with Good at the genesis of things, I think Good is more than just good enough.

    Thousands of years later we are just starting to get to the exceptional part of humanity and creation. So, I’m learning to be okay with Good.

    Thanks for this post!

  18. geezz..do I relate to this article…I am an over the top perfectionist..(my friends description of me, not mine)…and even though Im trying to change, it’s difficult. In my mind, everything must line up just right. Ive been taught about “timing” all my life, so what it meant to me is, if the timing is “right”, or “perfect”, then I’ll fail. Many years, I waited, delayed, stalled, waiting on that perfect moment, and it never came. Now that i’m over forty, I’m learning to go-for-it, take more risk..What’s the worst that can happen? Go for it. We only get one trip in this journey called life

  19. Funny, yesterday I wrote a post that I think ties into this very much. For me, not only did I have to accept “good” was enough to get started on some of the projects I’ve sat on (both home and career-wise), but I also had to start putting on some blinders in terms of what I saw happening around me.

    I guess it boils down to learning how to NOT COMPARE OURSELVES.

    Which is extraordinarily hard to do when you are connected to others in your area on social media. Especially (for me) Twitter.

    Feels like all day long I’m seeing tweets of what other people are accomplishing and these seem like REALLY. BIG. THINGS.

    And I look at my little “accomplishment” for the day… that blog post I got done in the midst of my other responsibilities… the way I’m finding a way every day to work toward my goal of working for myself… well, it doesn’t seem like enough.

    Especially when some folks are telling me that if I really wanted to accomplish my dreams, I would have GONE BIG already… so obviously, all the practical things that I see as challenges (like feeding my kids every day and affordable health insurance!) are just excuses I’m using not to GO. BIG!

    aargh… that’s how I end up feeling. Not enough, like I’m not doing nearly enough or good enough.

    That’s when I really need reminders like this. It’s not a competition and trying does count. Taking those daily… however imperfect… steps… COUNT.

  20. Yes yes yes! This resonates so powerfully for me, a recovering perfectionist. Becoming a mom was a huge opportunity for me to continue to suffer my endless inner tirades and self-criticism, but instead I have worked hard (and my kids have helped guide me) toward “good enough”.

    What a huge relief to feel “good enough”. Satisfied, it turns out, is way better than perfect. Who knew?

    One of my teachers, Jennifer Louden, talks alot about satisfaction. I recommend her Satisfaction Finder, which lays out simple Conditions of Enoughness for those perfectionists among us to work with rather than striving and failing again and again. It’s on her website, JenniferLouden.com.

    Thanks so much for bringing this forward.


  21. This is so timely, Tara. Much like many of the other comments above, I plowed wholeheartedly into my endeavors- thrilled to be pursuing my vision of a company and delightful products. Without regulation, I burnt out!

    My partner told me- ” perfection is the enemy of the good”. He couldn’t have been more right. I feel we have to keep moving, step by step. When I get overwhelmed, I know it is time to step back a pace. And remind myself that I created that pace!

    As a creative, sometimes the possibilities can stop you in your tracks. However, get them out, pick and choose, then file the rest away for when the creative gates don’t flow.

    Another thought from someone very wise–

    “If you cant fly, run.
    If you cant run, walk.
    If you cant walk, crawl.
    But by all means, KEEP MOVING.”
    -MLK, Jr.

  22. Wow!! I hear you loud and clear!! I, too, am one who waits for all the perfect ingredients to cook up the perfect stew. However, when in a pinch, I’ve found that I use what I’ve got in the cabinet or fridge to make do, and that’s when I’m most creative. This week, I’ve been sketching ideas and have found myself reinvigorated with the process of drawing, something I haven’t done in years. The funny thing is drawing is not my goal or dream, but is a necessary part of my process to redesigning furniture. I’m no longer lamenting about IF ONLY and HOW WILL I. Instead, I’m celebrating using what I have RIGHT NOW to get closer to that ultimate goal! Thankfully, this process is unlocking other hidden talents. Thank you!

  23. Your words are so true!

    I had an enlightened moment at the end of last year during my daily spiritual practice. I was seeking answers about not being sure what new direction to go in for 2011…which idea was “the one”.

    The answer I received was a very quiet “well, if you would just pursue and complete all the ideas you’ve already gotten, you’d never have to ask that question again”. Ahhhh Haaaa.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  24. I’ve always been somewhat of a perfectionist. I held back starting a blog for a long time. I just couldn’t imagine, “me” doing that and I’m a middle age, Techno-Baby-Luddite that cries in the Mac Store. But with the support of a friend, I started my blog. I used blogspot, because it was easy. I started with a simple “about” page with my email and website, a Haiku poem and a photograph. It was sooooo thrilling to just get started! I’m continuing to have the most fun of my creative life. After a couple months, I’m still figuring out cool stuff that I can do. It is a work in progress, excellence will come. I make no apologies for re-writes, changes and additions to the site as it develops. Love it!

  25. Perfectionism sometimes keeps me from starting something, but even more often it keeps me from finishing a project, waiting for the perfect way to finish it or afraid of ruining something with just a ‘good’ ending, instead of the perfect ending. Sometimes ‘good’ is better than never. Thank you for some terrific food for thought!

  26. For me, creating something new appears fully developed in my mind’s eye or in a dream. It always is more than “good enough”. I usually have no difficulty creating what I envision. The unfortunate thing is time. I have a part-time job that takes attention away from the creative work. Getting back into that space is not always easy.

  27. I’ve found that ideas need some gestation time as creativity is an emergent process. In the meantime, I keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other towards my imagined goal which often transforms itself along the way into something even better.

  28. We are all works in progress, which makes us good enough for now, but the “good enough” can be really hard to put into practice when it comes to work. With all the posts and talk of product launches, building anticipation & creating this demand, etc., it makes it feel like it has to be perfect or people will feel all they were fed was hype.

  29. For almost a year, I’ve owned &vmanaged a small gift shop, Cape Kaleidoscopes on Cape Cod featuring kaleidoscope toys/kits to artist-made collectables, scope-inspired jewelry, quilts, books, photography, etc. I wear ALL the hats, so it’s way too easy for me to spend time cleaning everything (sure it has to be done, but THAT well?), than just getting going on the social media plans I have. I’ve done the research, attended a fantastic “Geek Girl Camp” (check them out: http://www.geekgirlcamp.com), small business workshops with S.C.O.R.E. and so many others on this & other important topics, ETC. I have a store FB page, I do Constant Contact newsletters (OK, now rarely), and I’ve recently joined Twitter & LinkedIn. But, making it all into a cohesive marketing plan to increase business hasn’t really happened. I also need to do a much better job with inventory management/cash flow! Boy, do I need this kick in the pants! Thanks!!

  30. I am a perfectionist. A true blue card holding perfectionist. I have so many ideas for projects, blog posts, anything, everything. Yet not one of those brilliant bits of me leave my mind because what if it isn’t perfect, what if I miss a step in the to do list what if my crochet isn’t good enough – good enough for who you might ask. Good enough for me. Honestly I really don’t care what YOU think of what I do but if a project isn’t good cough for ME well that’s altogether a different kettle of fish, I’ve been known to abandon a project three or 4 rows in because it’s just not perfect. It does tend to slow ones creativity down and I have tried to pull back and think good is good enough……what has most people said-baby steps

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