Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Don’t let the Perfect be the enemy of Good Enough

I already knew that I had space issues before we started moving into our house.  Because of that I drew up little diagrams of my new kitchen with all of it’s drawers and cabinets and assigned bowls and plates and mixers and pots to what seemed like good places.  Then I put post it notes on the cabinets to help keep track of what went where, and moved them around when I realized something just wasn’t working.  It was a great system, especially since having a functioning kitchen was a top priority.


I soon realized that those same issues were paralyzing me when it came to unpacking any more boxes.  Literally.  I was so overwhelmed every time we opened a new box because now I had to figure out the best places for still more stuff.  So I mostly didn’t open any more boxes.

Then one day I had a sort of epiphany.  Here I thought that I had eliminated perfectionism from my life many years ago, but it had snuck into a back door and was living in my closets.  And cabinets.  And drawers.  I was unable to unpack because I couldn’t figure out the perfect place for everything—until one day I realized “it doesn’t have to go in the perfect place, it can just go anywhere now and later I can figure out a better place if I need to.”

Throughout my life I’ve been warned occasionally “not to let the good be the enemy of the best,” or in other words, to not be satisfied with merely being good but instead to press onward to be the best.

I have decided that in some instances (perhaps many?) that the reverse is more true; that we ought not to let the best be the enemy of the good.  And that’s what I’ve told myself every time I unpacked something and a voice in the back of my head said  “that’s probably not a good place for that particular game/stapler/wrench.”  Every time it happens I tell that voice to calm down, that there will be plenty of time later for reorganizing things into “more perfect” places.

Do you know what, I think it’s working.  I’ve (slowly) been getting more stuff unpacked, and I’m feeling less stressed about it.  It’s also made me think that I need to be careful to periodically re-evaluate the assumptions I’m operating on, because let’s face it—not everything is worth doing perfectly, especially when it results in you living your life with all of your belongings packed in boxes in the garage…


  1. Yay! And I definitely have that problem, too. The other day I was cleaning the office and had to really talk myself into even starting because it was a mess and overwhelming, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to get it "absolutely perfect." ;) Luckily I did start and it looks great (though not perfect!) now.

  2. Once I apologized that something I needed to present wasn't perfect, and the school psychologist said something to me that has helped me for a many years. He said, "a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow." Thinking about embroidering it on a pillow!