Good Enough?

Time to sweep the driveway... again....
Time to sweep the driveway… again….

I swept the driveway earlier this week.  I’d been at it for over an hour, and frankly, was tired of seeing pine needles and leaves.  I looked behind me and noticed some stray leaves that I had missed.  I turned back around and continued sweeping, muttering, “it’s good enough.”

Good enough?  This is unlike me.  When did good enough become good enough?

My entire life, I’ve been an over-achiever.  If I earned an “A” in school, the percent mattered:  90% was barely skating by… almost a “B”.   I can’t remember what it is I needed to buy at Walmart even though I wandered the aisles hoping it would come to me, but I haven’t forgotten that nearly 20 years ago, I was a tenth of a percent away from graduating college Summa Cum Laude.  Magna Cum Laude wasn’t good enough.

I’ve been known to follow up after my kids do their chores because it wasn’t good enough.  I constantly wipe water spots from chrome faucets.  Daily, I wage war against the clutter threatening to overtake my one long counter top.  My plastic storage containers are nested neatly in the cabinet, in spite of the kids’ tendency to haphazardly toss them onto the shelf.

I wonder:  have I accepted that good enough should be embraced rather than shunned?   Maybe I’m finally seeing that perfection is an unattainable illusion.  Maybe I realize that time is a commodity and that “good enough” is an excellent savings plan.

Or, maybe I’m just tired.

Yes, I think this is it.  Many days getting out of bed is a milestone because I didn’t think I could do it.  I’m not so sure my “good enough” attitude is permanent, but if it gets me through the day, well, that’s good enough.

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I’m still struggling with keeping up with things I need to do, so writing time is next to none (which frustrates me.)  Just thinking about what I have to do puts me into a state of inaction and procrastination (equally frustrating!)  In my bits  of “spare time” I’ve been slowly catching up on blog reading, though.  My apologies to Emilio – he provided a photo for me to write a story for… in September… and it still isn’t done.  I hope to have something on that soon… but I know better than to promise anything!

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45 thoughts on “Good Enough?

  1. Timothy Price October 24, 2015 / 10:45 AM

    I believe by getting to the point that “it’s good enough” is good enough is great progress. In reality, there are things that “good enough” are truly good enough, like sweeping the driveway — leaves and pine needs with fall again and again, it’s a never ending battle. It’s hard enough to pull your life back together, but perfection will come back. BTW Have you decided what color you’re going to paint your nails?

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 8:48 AM

      Haha, well, if I were to paint my nails I would probably choose purple. My mom gets her nails done and says gel polish doesn’t chip. Not sure when I’ll have extra money to spend, but I might try it 🙂 I don’t feel ambition to surpass good enough on most things right now, but I do believe that it won’t always be the case. Thanks for stopping by and reminding me about nail polish, Timothy!

      • Timothy Price October 25, 2015 / 9:41 AM

        Laurie does gel nails herself. She gets up to two months out of them without chipping, and that’s with gardening. She has to do maintenance on them and fill in the color by the quick as her nails grow out, but she gets a lot of use out of each polishing. But even when you do gel nails yourself, the polish and other supplies you need to work with are a lot more expensive than regular polish.

        A bottle of cheap deep purple would be a good place to start. Find “Smoke on the Water” on youtube, and groove-out while painting your nails!

        • jannatwrites November 6, 2015 / 12:54 PM

          When I’m done punishing myself, I think I just might do this (and write about it!)

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 8:48 AM

      I like the way you think… maybe it will rub off on me, eh? 🙂

      • scribblingscribes October 25, 2015 / 9:01 AM

        Ha ha, unless you can figure out a way for us to do things perfectly and stay sane!

        • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 9:11 AM

          Ooh, I think the sanity ship sailed a long time ago… and I’m still standing on the shore 🙂

  2. Debbie October 24, 2015 / 11:40 AM

    Janna, I totally empathize here. I, too, tend toward perfectionism, but somewhere along the way, I’ve learned that too much of even a good thing borders on excessive! Perhaps we need to relax our standards a bit — at least, for things we can’t control like dirty driveways! I don’t imagine it’s others putting the stress on us; more likely, it’s our inner selves demanding a standard that nobody can live up to. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Kick back, do what you can, and please don’t fret over playing catch-up and not writing. Your brain is storing stuff right now, and one day when you least expect it, you’ll be surprised at what comes out!

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 8:51 AM

      It’s frustrating because I want to be writing but it just doesn’t happen. I think myself into inaction on just about everything. Last night I made a list with check boxes on the ten things I need to do today. I got up and started doing them – I’ve got a couple things done. Perhaps seeing stuff marked off will be motivation to just get it done? We’ll see 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Debbie!

  3. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) October 24, 2015 / 11:55 AM

    I have to say this scares me a little.. we should be able to achieve well without always thinking it is not enough… the other alternative is not to start at all… I’m glad you left those leaves.. Do something fun… and do a few things good enough…

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 8:51 AM

      I’ve done plenty of not starting at all, Bjorn. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your words of encouragement… I watched a movie on Netflix last night. I hardly ever do that!

  4. GodGirl October 24, 2015 / 2:30 PM

    I think “good enough” is the happy medium between perfectionism and total inaction. There’s a place for pursuing excellence, especially in the areas we’re passionate about, but I think “good enough” is OK for parenting and the daily tasks of home life.

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 8:53 AM

      I know you’re right, GodGirl, but I still push myself to do more. The problem with the home tasks right now is my house is up for sale (and has been since May). I’m exhausted trying to keep it looking ‘show ready’ because someone can ask to see it at any time.

      • GodGirl October 29, 2015 / 12:32 AM

        Since May is a long time – that’s exhausting!

  5. EagleAye October 24, 2015 / 6:07 PM

    Whatever makes you happy is “perfect,” in my book. If “good enough” is just the right amount, then it’s not good enough, it’s “perfect.” I see a lot of folks constantly stressing about good health, then developing stress-related illnesses. Maybe they shouldn’t have consumed the “perfect” diet. Maybe the “good enough” diet with out all the stress of perfection, would have been “perfect.” In the end, it seems to me that it’s all about balance rather that perfection.

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 8:55 AM

      Ah, there’s that happy word again 🙂 I’m not sure about all that, but someday I might reach ‘content’. I would agree about the health stuff. I do try to eat healthy, but I don’t stress about it if I eat a few Oreos (I do get concerned when the Costco-sized mega box disappears in a week and the kids swear they didn’t eat any of them, though!) Balance is a key word and that is something I hope to improve. Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts, EagleAye!

  6. Leigh W. Smith October 24, 2015 / 6:08 PM

    If I may say it this way, my friend, we perfectionists have to learn that saying (I honestly don’t recall hearing it until recently; but it was probably selective hearing) “perfect is the enemy of the good” and take it to heart. Of course, it all depends on context, but it sounds (from my perspective) as if you’re being extra-difficult on yourself, thus adding obstacles or making existing ones higher than they might otherwise have been on their own. I can empathize with you; I’ve been known to rearrange dishes (utensils, specifically) after someone has helped load the washer, just because they weren’t done the ‘right’ way. So, I add to my own burdens with this and other behaviors. I’m learning, after all these years on Earth, to let go of some things that really won’t be important in the big picture, opting to work harder and longer on the things that do. I hope you are able to be gentle with and forgive yourself, Janna. Say mantras if you need to, guiltlessly: e.g., “I am a good person, I am competent, and I am loved.” [Hopefully that’s not too Stuart Smalley-like! 🙂 ] Many good wishes to you, as ever!

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 9:01 AM

      You’re right. Leigh, I do have a tendency to be hard on myself. It started as a child and has only marginally improved. I’ve managed to get to the point where I redo the things that really matter – like when the kids stack cups that are still wet… um, mildew! I’m learning to look at their chores through a less critical eye. Like when I check the wiping of counters, I let it go if there is a stain they didn’t bleach off (I just do it) but if there are still crumbs, I make them do it again. Had to laugh at the Stuart Smalley reference… it’s been a long time since I heard that! Thanks for sharing your thoughts… they have both given me something to think about, and made me smile.

      • Leigh W. Smith October 25, 2015 / 11:49 AM

        >>>>>Had to laugh at the Stuart Smalley reference… it’s been a long time since I heard that! Thanks for sharing your thoughts… they have both given me something to think about, and made me smile.
        <<<<And now you've made my day, Janna. I really dig making people smile. And, hey, we can be "old-timers" together re: 'old' SNL and other pop-culture references, although I think I might be technically older than you are! 🙂 Peace be with you, my friend from afar!

  7. diannegray October 24, 2015 / 6:12 PM

    Slowly does it, Janna (hugs) xxxxx

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 9:01 AM

      Oh, I’m moving slowly all right, Dianne 🙂

  8. nrhatch October 24, 2015 / 7:13 PM

    Instead of expending energy to perfect daily minutiae that won’t matter a year (or even a week!) from now . . . I’ve learned to recognize when something is good enough:

    Progress, rather than perfection
    Is good enough for me
    Unless the action in question
    Is a high priority

    Now . . . step away from that broom! 😛

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 9:03 AM

      Good thought, Nancy! Part of the problem is that with the house up for sale, I’m forced to pay attention to certain details I’d normally let go, which aggravates my tendency toward perfection. In time, some of this will resolve itself, I think. I don’t think I’ll live in a pig sty, but I will relax some 🙂

      • nrhatch October 25, 2015 / 11:42 AM

        Since selling the house is a high priority item . . . allow your inner perfectionist free rein!
        Good luck finding the right buyer and getting the right price.

  9. chlost October 25, 2015 / 7:20 AM

    Expending your energy on things that really don’t matter in the long run (who cares-other than you-about a few leaves on the driveway), focus your limited energies on things which will make a difference in your or someone else’s life. Your kids would love to have more of your time, I am sure, and that would make a difference for them. Plus, speaking from experience, re-doing things that children have tried very hard to do well just makes them feel insecure about trying to help with things. Why should they load the dishwasher if mom is just going to re-do the whole thing “right”?

    In my unsolicited opinion, loosening up a bit will help make you feel better as well as those around you. A win-win!

    Be good to yourself!

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 9:09 AM

      Normally, I wouldn’t care about the driveway at all. It might be an important detail I left out, but the house has been up for sale for several months. During this time, I’ve had to keep it as spotless as I can (with 2 sons!) and I’m just tired. I need it to sell for several reasons and I think that puts more pressure on me (I don’t want an ill-kept house to turn someone away.) This situation is aggravating my perfectionist tendencies. I agree about the re-doing things and I really do try to refrain. If their work is really that poor, they are old enough I make them do it again. I accept ‘good enough’ when it comes to their chores (for the most part.) Thanks for sharing your advice, Chlost. I appreciate the thought – here’s to loosening up (sometime soon, I hope!)

  10. Toni October 25, 2015 / 7:48 AM

    It’s important, like your battles, to choose you ‘good enough’s. Good job leaving a wayward leaf or two on the driveway.

    • jannatwrites October 25, 2015 / 9:10 AM

      This is true, Toni. I should know I’m too old to fight them all 🙂

  11. Widdershins October 25, 2015 / 2:08 PM

    It’s all about choosing your battles, I reckon. … heh, I wrote this before I read what Toni said … still goes though! 😀

  12. Joanne Edith October 25, 2015 / 4:17 PM

    Janna,
    I turned 70 this week, which, despite my philosophical attitude, has given me pause. In addition, I lost two friends to cancer in the last few months, and my yearly physical identified a couple of warning signs. With all that in mind, family is first, staying healthy for them and me, and then the other stuff…writing, singing, cooking, photography…when time allows. Raised Catholic, perfection was always the goal. Anything less meant you didn’t try hard enough. So, Janna, you’re allowed to be good enough after a lifetime of being great! Besides, it’s all so subjective. Obviously, you’ve penned a very thought-provoking piece. Thanks..and give yourself a break!

    • jannatwrites November 6, 2015 / 12:56 PM

      Thanks for stopping by to share your perspective on this, Joanne. I am my own worst critic and I think much of my suffering is because of what I inflict on myself. I do need to embrace good enough and just go with it 🙂 I hope your move to be healthy is going well – sometimes that can be difficult!

  13. agjorgenson October 25, 2015 / 4:34 PM

    Yes, learning to accept “good enough” is an important stage in life, that many of us have to revisit time and time again!

    • jannatwrites November 6, 2015 / 12:56 PM

      I do think for me it will require repeat lessons!

  14. pattisj October 25, 2015 / 7:58 PM

    It’s a tough job keeping the house in condition to be shown at a few moments notice. When it sells, you’re going to feel a huge weight lift. I wish I’d been much younger when I figured out just how important “good enough” really is.

    • jannatwrites November 6, 2015 / 12:57 PM

      Thanks, Patti. I really am tired of keeping this house up. It’s a struggle to not get frustrated with it.

  15. the dune mouse October 27, 2015 / 5:20 PM

    I understand as I never was as good as I wanted to be!!! and I am an expert procrastinator. as far as housework goes- though I’m relatively neat, my closets and drawers are a testament to chaos 😀 !! However when I’m on a role there is no stopping me!! It’s feast or famine, apathy or passion. Hope you continue to feel more energized.

    • jannatwrites November 6, 2015 / 12:59 PM

      It sounds like you know ‘balance’ about as well as I do, haha. I get on organizing binges and the need for sleep won’t even stop me. Sometimes I think while my hands are busy organizing, my mind is working on something else that would’ve kept me awake anyway.

  16. the dune mouse October 27, 2015 / 5:20 PM

    * that was roll as opposed to role though I’ve played lots of them too.

  17. philosophermouseofthehedge October 31, 2015 / 12:57 PM

    In theater/stage production, there’s a phrase “Good enough for summer stock.” Summer stock meaning working as stage hand or set designer/builder during the summer for the productions that change each week for summer audiences. It’s only got to be magic and last for a blink, so it’ll do fine – spend effort and time on things that go long term.
    Knowing when it’s summer stock and when it’s a long broadway run is important if you’re gonna manage careening through life.
    Besides, pine trees. They have it out for homeowners. They never run out of stuff to throw down. No doubt the beginning of a plant rebellion…..I know about you – you sullen littering trees

    • jannatwrites November 6, 2015 / 1:01 PM

      Pine trees do “shed” a lot 🙂 They are pretty easy to clean up after as long as the needles aren’t too sappy. It does make sense to apply ‘good enough’ in the right instances, and to know when even better is required.

      • philosophermouseofthehedge November 6, 2015 / 1:12 PM

        And it depends on how many trees you have 🙂 I like it best when it’s a pine forest and you can leave them all on the ground where they fall.So quiet.

        • jannatwrites November 15, 2015 / 8:05 PM

          The natural look is best… with make up and nature 🙂

  18. Imelda November 6, 2015 / 9:19 PM

    I think it is good to chill sometimes – to let things go a bit – for our own sanity. Accepting that we can not accomplish everything we want to do can be liberating. I know, because I like to be in control, too, but then find that I cannot control how things go in the house without antagonizing every family member to the extreme. 🙂

    • jannatwrites November 15, 2015 / 8:16 PM

      Haha, yes, we could drive everyone nuts with that, so finding a happy medium – and happiness- is the best route

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