Good Enough

posted by Andrea | 12/17/2014

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Today’s post is a repost from over a year ago — however, due to this busy time of year, I honestly can’t think of a better message to share with you today!


Over the years, I’m sure the number of times I’ve said “that’s good enough” is astounding. I catch myself saying it ALL THE TIME — and honestly, I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing.

Although I’m always striving for “better”, I also know that perfection is unattainable. So “good enough” is often the place I find myself at — better, faster, cleaner, kinder, stronger, wiser, more organized, more efficient than before — but still plenty of room for growth.

Good Enough

Over a year ago, heard someone say:

“For a woman to say she is searching for a “good enough life” is NOT failure — it is maturity and self-knowledge.”

I immediately fell in love with that quote and started reciting it to myself over and over again — obviously, it stuck with me!

You see, sometimes I feel like saying, “that’s good enough” is me being lazy or taking the easy way out. I could be making fancier meals, I could be doing more in my church and community, I could be putting up more decorations around our house, I could keep everything cleaner and more organized, I could be doing TONS more with my blog and my business, I could be planning more fun activities for Nora and Simon, I could be going on more dates with Dave….

I could, but I’m not.

Not because those things aren’t important to me — simply because I only have 24 hours a day to do everything I want and need to do. So instead of doing one or two things 100%, I do a lot of things at 85%… and that’s “good enough” for me!

Seriously. I’m not trying to be silly or flippant. I know full well that there are many things I do each day that I have not given 100% time, effort, and energy towards; but that extra 15% is going to something else that’s probably more important or more pressing at the time.

Good Enough

Instead of spending tons of time cleaning my house each week, moving every piece of furniture when I sweep and vacuum, I usually get the job done in half the time by doing the bare necessities.

Instead of spending all day in the kitchen making every single thing from scratch, I make lots of semi-homemade foods to free up loads of time for other activities.

Instead of getting every single great deal on groceries and other daily necessities, I shop at only one store and do my best to save as much as I can — or we just do without.

Instead of spending time and money planning fancy vacations or family outings, we often just opt to stay home, work on house projects, and have fun in our own neighborhood.

I could go on and on — but I think you get the idea.

It’s easy for me to feel discouraged or lazy because I’m not doing as much as I could — or maybe as much as others are doing. But at the same time, I love that by striving (or maybe settling) for “good enough”, I’m able to do SO many more of the things that are important to me.

I am good enough.

You are good enough.

“Good enough” is good enough for me!

What about you?

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45 comments

  1. Victoria

    11/21/2013

    Well said! I agree 100%.

    [Reply]

  2. Jilly

    11/21/2013

    I always say something similar. That has to be good enough.

    It is good enough, but it feels like I am not doing my best, and that I am settling for less and hope that no one notices.

    I will never do as much as you, or anyone else I guess, but this gives me a new, and better, perspective on deciding how much effort I put into things and how it might be nice to cut down on the criticism a bit.

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  3. Living So Abundantly

    11/21/2013

    Yes, that’s how I roll. I will never forget a lady that I worked with saying how her mom was always so busy doing “things” that she always wished she’d just sit down and do something with her. That stuck with me, as I’m a task-oriented person(although I’m a huge people person, too). I struggle to be free to focus on my husband and child when I have things to do, but I’m slowly and surely getting used to it. Dishes sat in my sink until this morning, and I was okay with that. My little boy cried and needed me for over two hours last night, and in the grand scheme of things that was way more important. I so enjoyed my cuddle time with him, because I as able to let go of my to-do list for my number one priority–family. I so appreciate your blog and your mindset. You really do have a great balance. :)

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  4. Julie

    11/21/2013

    My catch phrase of late has been “every little bit helps.” I get overwhelmed easily so i just tackle a nibble at a time. I apply this everything… exercise, cleaning, paperwork, etc.

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  5. Deb

    11/21/2013

    I always ask myself, am I being lazy or does this really not need done this way? I mean if I just vacuum the main areas or skip dusting, will my small group really notice or am I truly being a sluggard and neglecting my job? The answer can vary, I can be VERY lazy sometimes, but other times, it is just prioritizing. I can also fall into pride about having a clean house or a wonderful from scratch meal and pride is just as bad as laziness. ARGH, progress not perfection and just do the next thing………my mottos…….

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I love your perspective of questioning your motives. I agree, sometimes (not super often though) I can also be acting a bit lazy — however, most of the time, I realize that something else is probably more important for me to be doing at that time.

    And yes, “progress, not perfection” I’ve said that MANY times as well :)

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  6. Tragic Sandwich

    11/21/2013

    A former boss told me that as far as she was concerned, my ability to determine “good enough” was one of my strengths–not because I settled for adequate, but because I knew when we had produced work that met our needs and everyone’s expectations.

    Was there a better word that would enhance the narrative? Perhaps. Was there a slight tweak to the design that could make it look even better? Perhaps. But I knew when we’d achieved a quality product that accomplished goals, and could stop at that point–and meet a hard deadline–rather than struggling for unachieveable perfection.

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  7. Erin

    11/21/2013

    Yep, I think every mother has to come to terms with her own version of “good enough”. It took me a couple of years to embrace the loss of doing everything to the best of my ability. But now I’m so much happier for it! My motto for years has been “Done is better than perfect” and it really sets me free. Thanks for the post Andrea.

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  8. organize365

    11/21/2013

    I agree completely! It was probably 15 years ago when I came to the same conclusion. The phrase that I always chant is… “Done is better than perfect”.

    It is so freeing!

    :)
    Lisa

    [Reply]

  9. Summer

    11/21/2013

    Excellent post! We beat ourselves up too much as women, especially mothers. My husband always says “Progress, not Perfection.” I love that one too!

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  10. Cindy

    11/21/2013

    Andrea you are wise to learn it at a young age. I’ve learned kids will forget the ‘can’ (canned soup vs homemade) but they won’t forget the (insert fun thing you did with them instead). Also when you say yes to one thing ; entire home decorated for Christmas you’re saying no to something else ; peace or playing with Nora etc. It’s always about choices & it sounds like you’re choosing what is best for your family which is always a great choice!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Cindy. The reason I say “good enough” is also so I can do the things that make me feel good and that I enjoy. So sometimes I actually say “good enough” for playing with Nora — pop in a movie for her and spend a few minutes doing something for me. It’s definitely worth it for my sanity and she thinks she’s getting a special reward of watching a favorite movie or show on the iPad. Win Win!!

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  11. Lydia @ Five4FiveMeals.com

    11/21/2013

    I used to have an editor that would say that to me. “Good enough.” It crushed me the first couple times because I had worked so hard on my stories. But then I realized that it was a compliment…. he died last year and he was my mentor and I miss him greatly. This post today reminded me of him. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I suppose I would also be a little offended if SOMEONE ELSE told me “good enough” — however, I have no problem saying it to myself. I’ll remember this if someone else says “good enough” to me and try to take it as a compliment. Thanks :)

    [Reply]

    Lydia @ Five4FiveMeals.com Reply:

    I think he meant it as “good enough to print” or “good enough to put your name on it.” So if it’s good enough to put your name on it, it must be good enough.

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  12. Lorraine R.

    11/21/2013

    I so admire you and your husband! I wish my children were as wise! ( I wish I was as wise when I was as young as the both of you!!! )

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  13. Evie

    11/21/2013

    Andrea, I so agree! I don’t do perfect, but I do always tell myself “That’ll do!” in a happy tone of voice (ahem, usually inside my head LOL) when I’ve accomplished something that’s good enough. “That’ll do!” Or sometimes I’ll say “Thank you, Me!” LOL But for many years now I have absolutely not reprimanded myself for doing a less than perfect job at anything. I do my best…my best *at that moment*………and that’ll do! :-)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    That’s a great way to look at things Evie — thanks for sharing your inner voice with all of us!! :)

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  14. Evie

    11/21/2013

    Haha, OK, sometimes I do realize I’m slacking off at something, and then I try harder…but I don’t ever aim for anybody’s idea of perfection.

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  15. April Williams

    11/21/2013

    Andrea,
    I’ll make this short…..I LOVE your site and reading every one of your blogs. There…..”good enough” “enough said”

    April

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Haha thanks April!

    [Reply]

  16. Lizanne

    11/21/2013

    How true! It is definitely a challenge to be ok with ‘good enough’ and not beat ourselves up. I’m still working on it myself, but I think I’m getting a little bit better. I would certainly rather have several things done at 85% then one (or sometimes nothing) done 100%. :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes yes, Lizanne! I work with many clients who are true perfectionists and sometimes, they literally get NOTHING done because they are so obsessed with doing it 100% perfectly that they just can’t move on. It’s SO frustrating for me when I’m working with them and trying to make progress in their home — so I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for them.

    85% is “good enough” for me too :)

    [Reply]

  17. Jennifer Gregory

    11/21/2013

    Amen Sister! Love that!

    [Reply]

  18. Jilly

    11/21/2013

    I just finished another day of challenges and held the notion of good enough as actually good enough a couple of times.

    Now I am home and am feeling so supported, by strangers no less, that many people struggle with this. This is obviously not my writing space (I am such a master of understatement :) ), and yet, here I am, feeling surrounded by, if not friends, kindred souls.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I love this Jilly — thanks for sharing! I can TOTALLY relate to what you said about feeling supported and surrounded by like-minded people… and even “friends”.

    Yes, I’ve never met most of the people who comment, but just know there are others who think like me and can relate to my situations makes me feel so “normal”. This is one of my favorite things about running a blog!

    [Reply]

  19. Maria

    11/21/2013

    Good enough is perfect for me !!!

    [Reply]

  20. Paige

    11/22/2013

    So enjoyed reading this! Good enough is working for me, especially with housekeeping and cooking. I have a clean house and I cook dinner every night, but my house could be cleaner and I, too, cook semi homemade meals. My family never complains, so I am good with it.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Gotta love those semi-homemade meals that save us on busy nights! Dave has never complained either so I think we’re doing OK over here :)

    [Reply]

  21. Heather

    11/22/2013

    I caught myself telling my kids “That’s perfect” when what I meant was “well done with the right amount of effort for the importance of the job” or as you have said “good enough.” I don’t want to saddle my girls with the standard of perfection I have had for myself for so long and have been training myself to tell them they have done an “excellent” job. Then I have to remember “good enough” is for me too. :)

    [Reply]

  22. rebecca

    11/22/2013

    My husband and I are such opposites when it comes to this very subject. He is a perfectionist and I am far from it. I say “good enough” lots, sometimes when it is, and sometimes when it shouldn’t be. My husband never says or thinks this, and it can be so frustrating at times! He is doing his master’s degree right now and is always striving for perfection that he is never done with classes, projects, papers, etc. It’s really hard for me to be supportive of his goals when he goes overboard on everything. I put my foot down last summer and told him he wasn’t taking any more summer classes because he spends so much time perfecting assignments that we didn’t have a chance to do anything as a family the summer before. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I don’t mind him going all out on things, but the summer classes were too much! Anyway, maybe I will send him this article…..
    Thanks for posting!

    [Reply]

  23. Kerry

    11/22/2013

    I’m a little bit backwards. I totally agree with you in theory, but I can’t apply that to myself. I have anxiety, depression, and OCD. Most days, I get so overwhelmed with everything in my head that I can’t bring myself to do anything. So instead of doing chores, I watch TV. It’s like self-medication.

    I get into this trap where if I say “good enough,” that means that I can stop whatever I’m doing, regardless of its importance. The only way for me to get anything done is to push myself to as close to perfect as possible.

    I’m glad that you are comfortable with being “good enough,” and I envy that. There’s nothing wrong with striving for “good enough,” it just isn’t something that works for me. :/

    [Reply]

    Crystal @ Serving Joyfully Reply:

    Kerry, I feel you! I suffer from Depression and Anxiety as well. And I think that “good enough” is a relative term. Some people, who are perfectionists, or go-getters like Andrea may need to do LESS in order to get to that place of accepting “good enough.”

    But for some people who are struggling with getting things done at all, we may need to do MORE to get to that place of “good enough.”

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  24. Evelyn @ Smallish

    12/05/2013

    Andrea, great thoughts. Overall I agree with the premise that “good enough” can stave off the disappointment that striving for perfectionism may bring. And in many things in life, “good enough” is just right and leaves room for focusing on the more important things–none of us want to be polishing the baseboards with a toothbrush when our children are craving attention!

    But I would like to to add that in some things in life–the really big, important matters–”good enough” just won’t cut it for me. And I think that’s healthy. I don’t want my children to say that I was a “good enough” mother. I want to be an _excellent_ mother to the best of my ability. I don’t want a “good enough” marriage. I want an _excellent_ marriage for the rest of my life to my amazing husband. I don’t want my personal integrity to be “good enough.” I want to strive for _excellence_ by the grace God gives me to do what is right all the time. That’s not to say that I shoot for perfectionism at all, but I certainly want better than “good enough” when all is said and done in the things that matter.

    “Good enough” is fine for keeping daily activities and chores in perspective, but I think the deep places of our hearts are wired to want more for relationships and experiences.

    Thanks for bringing such a great discussion!

    [Reply]

  25. Marie

    12/05/2013

    My grandma has a saying I often refer to regarding doing quick and easy dinners to preserve your sanity. Her phrase is “just throw something together and call it supper.” although this term is specific to dinner, I feel like her “keep it simple” mentality can be applied to a lot of areas in life and I often do channel that mentality. Especially is skipping a few unimportant steps of some chore can buy you a few more minutes of quality time with your family or doing something that brings you joy, I say go for it.

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  26. Paulette Smith

    12/17/2014

    I so needed to hear this today. I am run ragged preparing for the holidays. Yesterday, I was walking around the bar in the kitchen and noticed some serious dust under the barstool. My first thought was, I need to do a better job with the floors. That set into motion thoughts about cleaning more deeply, all the unfinished chores, projects, hastily accomplished tasks…I just became overwhelmed. My perfectionism wears me out! Thank you, Andrea. I can breathe now.

    [Reply]

  27. Candis

    12/17/2014

    Reading this post literally made my anxiety rise lol – 1) because I know you’re right and 2) this is something I struggle with so much. If I can adopt the mind set of good enough I would be so much happier and get so much more done, just typing good enough makes my chest tighten a little with anxiety. Maybe my goal for the new year should be to accept it’s ok to be good enough – oh my this is going to be rough for me. Great post :-)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh no, I don’t want to raise your anxiety! I think it really is hard to let yourself be “good enough” with good enough — but there comes a point where (in my opinion) it just isn’t worth the amount of time and effort required to be better than good enough. It will definitely take time to change your way of thought (it took me a couple of years) but I will say that my life is so much simpler because of it. Not necessarily easier or less busy, but it is simpler!

    [Reply]

  28. Alyssa

    12/17/2014

    I’m 32 weeks pregnant with my 4th and this is my life right now. Thank you for this!!!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    well congrats on baby #4 — WOW! take it easy and give yourself a break — the last few weeks of pregnancy are rough on anyone, let alone someone with 3 other kiddos to care for every day. I’m sure you’re doing great!

    [Reply]

  29. Summer

    12/17/2014

    Andrea… there in no way there’s anything left in your house to organize!!! Lol!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — there is ALWAYS something! More stuff continually comes in, so there’s always a need to purge in order to stay on top of everything!

    [Reply]

  30. Alicia

    12/17/2014

    It’s funny….I had a high school teacher who often spoke to us about “settling”. That the majority of us would end up “settling” in our lives and end up not pursuing our dreams/goals- i.e. “it’s good enough”. It was supposed to be a motivational sort of topic, but I often felt conflicted with it, and it’s something I haven’t forgotten now almost 10 years later. My life, according to that particular teacher, would probably be considered as “settling”…but I think that your quote nailed it on the head. Being “good enough” is a sign of growth, maturity, accepting life. I don’t feel that I’ve settled in my life, my priorities have simply changed, and in my opinion , for the better. Great post!

    [Reply]

  31. Kate

    12/18/2014

    I love, love, love this post! I have some close friends who are so perfectionistic, it paralyzes them. And in fact, I used to be the same way. However, in my quest to reduce my stress and anxiety levels, and enjoy life to its fullest, I encouraged myself to simply “do” things and make progress, even if it wasn’t perfect or ideal. I would rather be “good enough” in many areas of my life, constantly moving forward and making progress and accomplishing things little by little, then be so overwhelmed by my need for everything to be perfect that I just feel awful and lack the ability to move forward and make baby steps towards progress. I used to be an all or nothing person, and I’ve learned to give myself breathing room and to simply focus on my motives. If my heart is in the right place (i.e. I’m putting forth my best effort with all that I have going on), then that is good enough for me, even if I’m not able to physically accomplish all that I wanted to in exactly the way I wanted it completed. My quality of life has most certainly increased, just from changing my perspective and expectations of myself and others. :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for your thoughts Kate — I very much agree with everything you said. Perfectionism is (in my opinion) the worst. I personally don’t struggle with this much as I’ve always been a “just get it done” type of person, but I’ve seen how it completely paralyzed and plagued so many of my former clients — I wouldn’t wish it on anyone!

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