The pursuit of “perfect” takes center stage in our ambition-driven world. After all, it’s all about the 4.0 GPA, dream job, flawless relationship, and the ideal house. But, as Mark Cuban once said, “Perfection is the Enemy of Success.”

This relentless pursuit of excellence, however, comes at a heavy price in the form of decision paralysis, anxiety, and a constant sense of inadequacy.

But let me pose a radical question. What would it be like if “good enough” was more than a consolation prize but a powerful tool for productivity and self-compassion?

The Cult of Perfection

In our society, perfection is glorified. Every day, we are bombarded with images of flawless lives and picture-perfect achievements. We feel like failures when anything less than extraordinary is compared with this constant comparison.

But here’s the truth: perfection is a myth. Think of it as an ever-receding horizon that keeps us striving for something unattainable.

Some of the reasons for this are:

  • It can keep people from asking for help. People are less likely to ask for help when they need it when they try to be perfect.
  • People can’t start things because of it. You might wait for the perfect time or product to start something. But if you wait, you might never begin.
  • Unhappiness can result from it. Pursuing perfection may never lead to happiness for those who are always waiting for it to happen.
  • Processes can be hindered if people don’t enjoy them. Perfectionism focuses on the outcome and leaves no room for positivity.

What’s more, as Brené Brown writes in The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. It’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”

“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought,” Brown adds. “If I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”

The Tyranny of Perfectionism

It is not uncommon for perfectionism to masquerade as noble ambition. We are constantly driven to improve by it, fueling our desire to succeed. In reality, it harbors a dark secret: a deep-seated fear of failure. In a world where reaching perfection is the sole benchmark, anything less feels like a crushing defeat.

There are several ways in which this fear manifests itself:

  • Decision paralysis. In the face of a plethora of options, each with its own flaws, we become overwhelmed, unable to choose for fear of making the wrong choice.
  • Chronic procrastination. Despite endless tweaking and refinement, we feel nothing we release is good enough.
  • Negative self-talk. Whenever we fail, we berate ourselves, which saps our energy and motivation.

Additionally, high levels of perfectionism are associated with major depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders.

The Allure of “Good Enough”

I can’t stress this enough. Mediocrity is not synonymous with embracing “good enough.” Instead, it accepts life’s limitations and its inability to reach perfection.

There are times, however, when good enough is good enough. Therefore, it’s about balancing striving for excellence and recognizing when good enough is good enough.

The following are some of the benefits of accepting “good enough”:

Increased productivity.

Putting a realistic standard in place and staying within it will save you from the editing black hole. As a result, you can move on to other tasks and projects, fostering a sense of accomplishment.

Frees up your time and energy.

If you think back to all the hours you’ve spent tweaking a project, you’ll find there’s never enough to make it perfect. Once you accept “good enough,” your time and energy can be spent on more important things.

Whether you want to take on new challenges, learn new skills, or relax, there is no shortage of options available to you.

Decision fatigue is reduced.

When you recognize that most decisions have acceptable outcomes, you can concentrate on the truly important decisions.

Creativity is enhanced.

Even if it isn’t perfect, experimentation, exploration, and embracing the joy of making something loosens your fear of failure.

Stress reduction.

Anxiety is often caused by perfectionism. Accepting “good enough” releases your self-imposed pressure and creates a more productive and positive work environment.

Self-compassion is increased.

The pursuit of perfection breeds self-doubt and negativity. In order to foster a positive self-image, though, you must acknowledge your efforts and celebrate your progress.

A higher level of happiness.

By embracing the present moment without constantly chasing an elusive ideal, you learn to appreciate the present moment.

The first step to greatness.

The first time we try anything, it’s rarely perfect. With “good enough,” you can put your work out there, gather feedback, and make changes. The more iterations you do, the closer you reach that “great” you aimed for.

Even Michelangelo began with a rough sketch.

Making “Good Enough” Work for You

How can we shift our mindset from “good enough” to “good enough”? A few actionable steps are listed below:

Define what “good enough” means to you.

Whenever you have to make a decision, establish clear criteria for what is “good enough” for you. As a result, a framework for evaluation will be provided that does not require perfect results.

Be realistic in your goals.

In order for a goal to be realistic, you have to take into account your current mindset, motivation level, timeframe, abilities, and skills. Setting realistic goals allows you to identify not only what you want, but what you can accomplish as well.

Establish realistic deadlines.

Keep your workload reasonable. Don’t get bogged down with endless revisions. Instead, give yourself enough time to complete a task or project well.

Take time to practice self-compassion.

If things don’t go according to plan, be kind to yourself. Remember, we all make mistakes. Rather than dwell on them, learn from them and move forward.

Embrace imperfection.

Again, it is important to recognize that perfection isn’t possible. As such, don’t be afraid to embrace things that are “good enough.”

Focus on progress.

Rather than obsessing over what’s not perfect, track your progress. In addition to keeping you motivated, this will also keep you focused.

Beware of comparing yourself to others.

As a result of social media, we are presented with a curated reality. That being said, don’t compare yourself to someone else.

Recognize the diminishing returns.

Determine the point at which additional effort yields minimal improvement. Take a step back from perfection and accept a satisfactory outcome instead.

Feedback should be welcomed.

Consult trusted sources for constructive criticism. Don’t let it become a gateway to perfectionism; instead, use it to improve your work.

Celebrate “good enough” moments.

Take a moment to reflect on times when “good enough” sufficed. Focus on the positive outcomes and how they helped you move forward with less stress.

Leave room for improvement.

There is no rule that says something cannot be improved after it is deemed “good enough.”

Think “done” over perfect.

There are times when finished is better than perfect. Focus on the big picture, and don’t lose sight of the satisfaction of completing a task.

“Good Enough” in Action: Real-World Examples That Get You Moving

In real life, how does the “good enough” principle apply?

The prototype powerhouse.

Startups are a good example of this. Imagine spending years perfecting a product before receiving any feedback from customers. Instead, they can create a minimal viable product – a basic, functional product – by using the “good enough” approach.

This MVP is then tested with real users to refine and improve the product. Many successful businesses have emerged through this iterative process, fueled by “good enough” prototypes.

The content creator’s conundrum.

It is common for writers, bloggers, and YouTubers to fall victim to perfection paralysis. Hours are spent agonizing over each sentence, every edit, delaying publication for years.

This is where “good enough” comes into play. When you aim for well-written, informative pieces that deliver value, you are doing well. You will always be able to refine and optimize later based on feedback from your audience.

The daily decision dilemma.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your never-ending to-do list? You can prioritize tasks and make progress by following the “good enough” principle. Instead of striving for perfection in everything, identify the key actions that will move the needle forward.

You must only complete these tasks “good enough” to keep the momentum going.

The imperfect athlete.

The thought of high-mileage training seems daunting when you want to run a marathon. This is where “good enough” training comes in. Initially, start with shorter distances and gradually increase them.

It’s possible that you won’t break any records. However, you’ll still complete the marathon.

The weekend DIY warrior.

The dream of renovating your entire home might be out of reach due to time and budget constraints. What is the “good enough” solution? Take on smaller, more manageable projects like painting a room or installing new shelves.

In the long run, you will feel accomplished, and your space will gradually improve without you feeling overwhelmed.

The “Good Enough” Takeaway

Having a “good enough” mindset doesn’t mean lowering your standards. Instead, it means prioritizing progress over perfection.

Furthermore, by embracing “good enough,” you can avoid paralysis by analysis. In fact, “good enough” can often lead to great. Taking action is the first step towards achieving your goals and achieving continuous improvement.


Who struggles with “good enough?”

A question like this is likely to be aimed at people who are perfectionists. Many perfectionists feel as if their work is never good enough and set very high standards for themselves and others. Burnout, procrastination, and anxiety can result from this.

Additionally, people with ADHD may have trouble completing tasks because they get stuck on details.

What exactly is “good enough”?

This will vary depending on the situation. Generally speaking, “good enough” means meeting the minimum requirements.

Why is “good enough” important?

  • Reduces stress and anxiety. You should remember that perfectionism can paralyze you, resulting in procrastination and burnout.
  • Frees up time and energy. When you accept “good enough” for some tasks, you can focus your efforts on what really matters.
  • Allows for progress. It is better to get things done than to get them perfect. The first step to completing a task is to get started.

How can I shift my mindset to accept “good enough”?

You can use strategies such as:

  • Reframing your thoughts. Instead of saying, “This isn’t good enough,” try saying, “This is a solid completion.”
  • Focusing on progress. Don’t just celebrate perfection; celebrate completing tasks.
  • Setting realistic deadlines. Aim for a standard that is achievable but not impossible.

Won’t “good enough” lead to sloppy work?

It’s important to distinguish between good enough and neglecting quality. When you prioritize efficiency, you do not sacrifice your core objectives.

Image Credit: Eden Constantino; Pexels