Good Enough is Good Enough

In the past, summer usually brought about a slower pace, a time to kick back a little, relax and refuel. However, this year as I pay attention to my own schedule and that of my colleagues, it seems as if the pace hasn’t slowed and in fact it appears there are more moments of frenetic energy and pressure to “get things done”. Recently, before a meeting on Social Emotional Learning (SEL), ironically, I asked a coworker, how she was doing, and she said “stressed”. I praised her for being self-aware (one of the components of SEL) but as I inquired further, she mentioned all she had to do and how there was not enough time in the day. As I pressed her a little more, we discovered that much of the pressure she was feeling was self-inflicted. While I appreciate and am committed to the importance of producing high quality work, she and I talked about the fact that sometimes it’s ok that what we do at work can be “good enough”.
Sometimes we can get bogged down with minute details which tend to distract and frequently, in the end, do not add any quality to what we are producing. It takes time and practice to build that “it’s good enough” muscle, being able to recognize what is an important detail to focus on and what is not. There are some things that do demand and require our highest abilities, fullest attention and best work. While shabby, half-hearted work is never ok, there are occasions when we can do a good job and then move on to the next task. Not everything has to be “the best” or “perfect”. It means we have to determine when this approach is acceptable. What I’ve found is that if we can be intentional and focused while undertaking those tasks then maybe we don’t have to keep coming back to perfect them.
Secondly, it also takes time and practice to allow yourself to surrender to this mindset and to actually “move on”. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. More often than not, WE are the ones instilling that expectation, not those around us or supervising us. We set high (sometimes near impossible to meet) standards for ourselves. I know there have been numerous times I’ve been stressed out because I had a deadline to meet or wanted to get a certain number of things checked off my to do list. But when I pause, break out of default mode and get present, I realize that I was the one who set the deadline or created the to do list, not the person I report to or coworkers. No one else had the expectation for when or what I was going to get done that day. It was my own internal need to be perfect or to look good to those around me that pushed me, not an actual deadline. The pressure I felt came from within. I was stressing myself out with unnecessary expectations.
This isn’t just about work productivity but also in our day to day life. We may have established an expectation for our kids to be a certain way or our home or yard to look a certain way. We could be overwhelmed by all we have to do (or think we have to do) when that may truly not be the case. I am really working to be mindful of what is realistic to expect from myself (and others) and to learn to let some of that go, to surrender that need to look or be perfect. It can take away from my ability to be light-hearted and free. Or steal away enjoyable moments as they present themselves. People say “stop and smell the roses” but I may be so focused on pulling the weeds around the roses that I don’t even notice them to stop and smell them.
As you begin to wind down your summer and think about a new school year, are there things you can put in the “good enough” category? Can your seating chart be good enough? Can your bulletin board be good enough? Can your (fill in the blank) be good enough? What are some things you can choose to not stress out about? What are things that truly do need your best effort, can you be intentional and fully focused on those tasks, give it your best then move on? My hope is you can begin a new school year refreshed and committed to taking care of yourself. Now I’m going to end this blog, because I think it’s good enough.