When is “Good Enough” good enough? (Lifehacking at 50+)

It seems like these days, we’re caught up in evaluation. No matter what we’ve done, we have to go over it – either by ourselves or with others – to see if we did a good job, and how we can do it better the next time. Sports fans call it Monday Morning Quarterbacking. The military calls it After Action Reviews, or AARs. More and more, I’m calling it a waste of time.

Because I refuse to get into a cycle of evaluating everything, and finding that Nothing Is Ever Good Enough, Everything Could Be Better. This business of constantly saying “You could have done better,” or – even more damaging – “I could have done better” is tearing down a lot of people I know. While I worked in Corporate America, I sat in too many meetings where ham-fisted management tore well-meaning workers (me included) to shreds by way of evaluation. Never Good Enough, and never praise. Only “You could have done better.” (Not going to get into grading systems here, or merit pay, or benchmarks like that. I’m just saying that endless evaluation, this feeling you are Never Good Enough, will kill your motivation quicker than any merit pay grid.) As if anything less than perfect is slacking.

Then people start applying it to their lives, their material things, their entertainment, their circle of friends, their children, their careers. And I’ve actually had people say to me, “Nothing is ever good enough.”

I can’t live in a world where nothing is ever good enough.

In my life now, there is such a thing as Good Enough. If I serve a good meal to my dinner party, but perhaps the mashed potatoes were lumpy, too bad; the mashed potatoes weren’t the point of the effort, so the meal was Good Enough. If everyone had a good time, that’s what counts. If I can’t get the weeds out of my front yard by summer, no matter; I was probably off doing something more worthwhile. I was putting my resources into something that matters more to me. And if I do my best, then, most of the time it is Good Enough.

Oh, once in a while, I will discover – after I’ve done something – that my best wasn’t good enough, and that there would have been a better way to do it. Maybe an evaluation is called for then: will I do this particular thing again? I might. Can I incorporate that better way into it? Maybe.

But even then, sometimes the extra time, muscles and money that I’d have to expend shift it into the category of Not Worth My While = Good Enough The Way It Is.

I guess I bring this up now because I don’t want to get to the end of my life and start The Evaluation, and realize that I just Never Was Good Enough. Or that my efforts were all half-hearted or lacking in some way. I work hard and give it my best where it counts. And on the other stuff? I can live with…Good Enough.

Can you live with Good Enough? Can you settle for less than perfect and be happy?

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