Good Enough

To all you perfectionists out there, I have a message for you:  Sometimes good enough is good enough.

Disclaimer:  I am not talking about slipshod work or substandard craftsmanship.  As my dad says, “You don’t want the optimist building the bridge.”  This concept does not apply to anything relating to medical care, safety, or treatment of others.  What I mean is that we often wait for the perfect set of circumstances before taking action, which can paralyze us.  We may couch this in terms of having standards but in reality it’s often an excuse for procrastination.

There is a business in Bloomington that makes cookies.  They offer late-night delivery and also have a mobile truck that sells their wares on the streets outside the downtown bars.  I think this is brilliant, not only because they found a niche, but also because they took and idea and ran with it—I imagine they started a successful business before they had any reason to believe they couldn’t.

I have a friend who told me that she had the same idea many years before, but never got around to it because she thought her recipes weren’t yet perfected and everything wasn’t exactly lined up.  She said she tasted their cookies and they are not as good as hers—but they opened a business and she didn’t.  She may have a superior product but no one will know that if she doesn’t step out of her comfort zone.  Lesson learned.

This principle can be applied to social situations as well.  I have begun to realize that participating in activities means putting up with a certain level of inconvenience.  Events won’t always take place when or where I wish, and I may have to get creative in order for the logistics to work out.  I may have to eat at odd times or bring clothes to change into.  But often times the benefits gained from whatever I did far outweigh the minor hurdles I had to overcome to get there.

My brother has a saying, “fix it in the mix,” which refers to sound recording and the act of using what you have and editing mistakes afterward.  I think this quip to myself a lot.  If I’m making a skirt, I could let it sit there for a month until I have time to put in a nice hem.  Or, I could slap some masking tape on it and go to the dance.  Often I find that whatever quick solution I used works just fine, and if it doesn’t, and it bugs me enough to redo it, then at least I’ve been wearing the skirt for a couple weeks in the meantime.

Obviously you need some sort of a plan that relates somewhat to your overall goal.  (For that matter, you need to figure out what it is you are trying to do in the first place.)  You can’t just go at things haphazardly.  But at some point you need to get moving and you probably know when that is, and when you’re using perfectionism as an excuse to remain inert on the couch with a remote in one hand and a bag of chips in the other.

Start small if you have to but take action—it’s easier to change directions once you’re already in motion.  If you’ve ever tried to turn the steering wheel of a car when it is parked then you know this.  I’m assuming that the phrase “it’s hard to hit a moving target” comes from the idea that if someone is trying to get you, then you are less likely to get hit by being in transit than by remaining still.  We can extrapolate this to mean that you are less likely to be struck down with defeat when you are on a path toward some plan.  Also, include a healthy dash of make it up as you go along.

I can imagine the objections.  Some may say that I am advocating mediocrity with my plea to accept the less than ideal.  But I would counter that this is the antidote to averageness.  This may sound paradoxical but stay with me.  Often we stay stuck because we are waiting for our situations to improve enough for us to take steps toward making our lives better.  If we reverse that equation, then we can take the initiative to act now, and improvement will follow.  Kind of like how people want to wait until they lose weight before going to the gym instead of the other way around.

Rather than saying “I’m going to try to improve my life when (the kids are grown, I finish school, the seasons change), instead replace the “when” with “now” and see what a difference it makes.