EST: 3 Letters That Can Sabotage Simple Living

posted by Andrea | 04/13/2013


EST — these 3 letters occur often in our English language — and no, I’m not talking about an abbreviated form of the words “estimate” or “established”.

The EST I’m referring to is found at the end of many, MANY adjectives.










In my opinion, these “est” adjectives are over used — not to mention they are often completely subjective.

Is there really a way to prove that one piece of pie is the bEST ever?

Or that one athlete, author, musician, actress, or artist is the greatEST of all time?

Is there a way to say without a doubt, that one person is the smartEST in the whole world?

That one home is the cleanEST?

Or that one flower is the prettiEST?

No, not really.

Even if you look at Olympic records to find the fastEST runner or swimmer, there is still a chance that on any given day, someone could be faster — it just might not be recorded.

Yes, I realize most of these “EST” words mean no harm, but personally, I think they have the potential to sabotage simple living. 

Since it’s nearly impossible to achieve those EST words, we quickly begin to feel like failures; we’re not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough, not athletic enough… and the list could go on.

My motto has always been “progress, not perfection” and while it is tempting at times to want to be the bEST, I continually need to remind myself that striving to be better is a lot healthier than striving to be the bEST… especially since the bEST is usually unattainable. 

This is certainly not easy to do — especially with TV commercials, magazine ads, and Pinterest sharing beautiful people, perfect homes, fancy foods, and the most creative ideas — all day, every day.

From the time we are young children (maybe even from the time we’re born) we are taught that it’s more desirable to be the bEST than to be mediocre — and certainly “bEST” is better than “worst”.

Come to think of it, I don’t know many people (myself included) who would scoff at being labeled any number of those EST adjectives I listed above. After all, who doesn’t love a good compliment 🙂

However, if we’re really interested in trying to simplify our homes, our families, and our lives, we need to stop beating ourselves up over trying to achieve EST… and instead, focus on small baby-step “ER” improvements.










And this is not to say we should never be satisfied or content with where we are at right now.

No, no – not at all.

If you’re perfectly content with any part of your life, pat yourself on the back and enjoy it — seriously!

I just know that many people (myself included) are often trying to improve something about themselves, their homes, their schedules, their lives, etc. And I’m all for improving if it helps you to simplify your life, streamline your schedule, save your sanity, or just feel a whole lot better about yourself!

Problems arise, however, when your motivation to improve becomes a quest for the bEST.

When that happens, your goals shift from “progress” to “perfection” and perfection (as we all know) is not possible.

Yes, those magazine homes look perfect, but they’re staged.

Yes, those supermodels seem to have the perfect body, but the photos are air-brushed.

Yes, those Pinterest recipes look perfect, but it took a lot of time to take and edit those pictures.

Progress is attainable. 

Perfection is not. 

So as you strive to live a simpler life, realize that those EST words won’t get you there. In fact, they might just completely sabotage all your efforts, and leave you feeling discontent, unhappy, overly stressed, and tired.

Baby steps.


BettER… not bEST! 

Filed under: LifeDaily Life

Leave a comment


  1. John


    Thanks for the great post Andrea! As a small business owner, there is a lot of pressure to be the bEST at everything. This is a great reminder that the most important thing is to be better than you were yesterday.


  2. Primitive Pleasures {May} - Primitive Roads


    […] -est should be -er and how that gives us the freedom to live […]

  3. Kalyn Brooke


    You worded this post so well. Thank you.


  4. Jennifer Gentry


    Hi Andrea!

    Love your new design and I have been an avid fan of your blog for quite sometime. Today’s post is so timely for me! EST is truly becoming a burden for my college-bound son and I plan to copy your post to share with him. You summed up perfectly the TRUTH about the FANTASY of perfection! Thanks and have a great day!

    Jennifer :0)


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jennifer — and you actually don’t even need to go through the work of copying it for your son. Just click the “email” button at the top right of the posts and you can send it that way!! So Simple 🙂


  5. Ree Klein


    First of all, Andrea, I love your new site~it’s beautiful! And, as for “est” I couldn’t agree more. I blog about money and your point is so true in this area. People often think that working to become wealthy is unattainable and so they get discouraged and give up or never even try.

    The definition of being wealthy (or pretty or thin as you point out) is subjective and personal. It pays to first define what “it” means to you and then work towards achieving your goal. Wealthy to one is not wealthy to another.

    Great post!


  6. maria


    Love this post! Your words of wisdom have certainly hit home. Thanks so much for the reminder to strive for ” bettER rather than bEST.” This is exactly what I needed today!


  7. AnneG


    Right on!


  8. Elizabeth


    Hi Andrea;

    Finally! the words that I was looking for to tell to my two beautiful daughters. Andrea you are the bEST…. so far!


  9. Fearon


    Thank you for this!!! What a beautiful reminder.


  10. Deb


    So true, how often my fear of failure or not doing things perfectly keeps me paralyzed from doing anything at all, as if an imperfectly organized pantry is not preferable to an unorganized disaster. Even in the small things, where worst case scenario, my paint job on a used garage sale item might not turn out, I hesitate to buy the paint and try it. Thanks for the encouragement! Have a wonderful day!


  11. lauri


    Love this post


  12. Rebecca G


    Thank you for the reality check! I love the line “striving to be better is a lot healthier than striving to be the bEST” – very, very true and if you are making a book of wise quotes, this one should go into it!


  13. Katie


    Needed that – particularly today!


  14. Verity


    Great article!

    Thought provoking and helpful for gaining a better, more mature perspective.

    Deeper then what you normally write; I like it. I’d love to see you write more life-approach, focused-view articles.

    I think they’d be helpful. 🙂


  15. Debbie Sanders


    Thanks!!! Always need to hear that. Going to put that moto in my calender book.
    progress not perfection!

    Have a great day!


  16. Cheryl


    What sage advice you’re offering here today!

    It is so easy to be caught in the perfection trap (particularly in the non-essentials!). How much better to strive for progress!


  17. Georgia Gal


    Totally agree! Trying to be the best can come with great heartache and dissapointment. When you “think” you are the best at something, you then will try to maintain it.

    Having the mindset to be or do better is one that encourages change. Having the mindset of being the best will hinder and tear down progress and goals.

    Welcome better and reject best.

    Hope everyone has a wonderfully imperfect day~


  18. Kjrsten


    We have had to make many changes to the way we were living, many of those reasons are due to an illness in the family. Simplifying and managing the way we spend has saved my sanity! Since following your site, I’ve learned to bake bread, make jams, add new items to our menu rotation (to a not-too-easy to please crowd), and never will I have to buy laundry soap, dishwasher soap, or cleaners again!

    Thank you!!


  19. Lauren @ LaurenPhelpsCoaching


    You are sooooo right! bEST is not attainable. As soon as you are the “best” someone else will be just a little better than you. I agree that we should focus on being bettER than ourselves and put less focus on how we compare to others. Have a fabulous day!


  20. Heidi


    VERY TRUE! I find a lot of the things I procrastinate on are because I am waiting to find the BEST solution to the problem. I have started just trying stuff instead once I told myself that if I don’t like the solution I will just try another one. Our pantry is getting close to done, it has been organized and reorganized about 7 times in the past year. BettER to do than wait.


  21. Laurel


    Good message. We all need to be reminded of this and to pass it on to our kids as well. It’s hard sometimes. I like to say, “good enough”.


  22. Julie H


    “Progress is attainable. Perfection is not.” Love it!!! Thanks for this post!


  23. Organize365


    Wow. Great perspective! How did you think of that?!

    My motto is, “Done is better than perfect!”



  24. Faith @ Artistic31Mama


    Love this! Absolutely love! I also loved that as I was reading this post it could be applied spiritually too. Great post; thanks for sharing!


  25. Evie


    Brilliant post, Andrea. I’m definitely a fan of pretty durn good!! Feeling the need to be the “__EST” can so easily cause us to be non-starters, and that mired in the mud feeling is terrible. Instead, GO FOR THE “__ER” and know the contentment and quiet joy that comes from moving through the day calmly to make things a little better. I’m sitting here remembering the hymn ‘Brighten the Corner Where You Are’ and feeling grateful that It isn’t titled ‘Make the Corner Where You Are the Very Brightest and Shiniest of Them All’!!!


  26. JulieBaby


    Amen! You are so right and we do all need this reminder from time to time. Looking for that EST triggers the perfectionist in some of us and incapacitates us: If we can’t achieve EST, then why bother at all? Better is the goal. You are spot on.


  27. Lauren @ Rustic Honey


    Words of wisdom! I had never thought about the EST words like that before. It is a good reminder to me that EST is most often unrealistic in my life. The only EST I need to worry about is MY PERSONAL BEST! Does that work? 😉 ( – the daily cheese! haha!) Thanks for sharing!