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  • Michael Philp

Sometimes good enough is good enough

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

Sometimes 8/10 is a good enough score. That's because 10/10 is really hard to maintain. Sure, you can get 10/10 scores. But to consistently get them, that is tough. Not many people can do that. Yet, people with clinical perfectionism constantly strive for 10/10 results or performances. And by 10/10, what I mean is that the score is relative to that person - it doesn't have to be the best in the world or 100% perfect - but it has to be of a high standard for that person or it becomes worthless in their eyes. All they can see is the faults. Or, if they did actually do well, get say a 9 or 10 out of 10, they downplay their success and quickly move on to the next thing. It never stops. Constantly moving forward to the next thing, constant pressure.

Don't get me wrong - high standards can be a good thing. In fact, it's important, sometimes vitally. I don't want a careless surgeon. But sometimes being a perfectionist actually gets in the way of achieving. Sometimes the fear of not being able to achieve a certain standard can actually grind everything to a halt. Procrastination and avoidance becomes a great strategy. At school, this can often be handing in reports at the last minute or after the due date. In a work setting, it might be doing all the easy tasks and avoiding the more complex.

Sometimes we need a task to be above average, to be excellent. I needed the surgeon to be excellent when fixing my ankle. Sometimes good enough is good enough. I'm not advocating for carelessness or sloppiness. But simply making a start, following through and putting in a good effort and being satisfied. Being ok with an 8/10. That's a far better strategy than avoiding and doing a rush job. Or being so caught up in the details and going overboard that the task gets handed in late. Doing a good enough job also allows us to review our performances and look at what we can improve. Perfectionists tend to focus only in black and white - it was either all good or all bad.

Take the time to acknowledge what you did well. If you have clinical levels of perfectionism, this will probably be hard for you to do. Do it anyway. And keep practicing this - set tasks for yourself to complete in a timely manner that are 'good enough'. Sometimes though, you may need some professional help to address the underlying issues. But have a go at this task anyway.

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