Focus on getting to “good enough”

Try three things, three ways, three times
October 19, 2022
Be Willing to Surrender
December 2, 2022

Getting to where you are in your career involves you setting high expectations for yourself and being unwilling to settle for less than meeting them. However, over time those expectations can become so heavy that unwillingness to fail (perfectionism) takes over and you end up frozen in place. If you tend to fall prey to analysis paralysis based on high expectations, know you are not alone. To break that pattern, focus on ways to temper your expectations, making them realistically match the circumstances and resources at your disposal. 

A good way to do this is to ask yourself, “What does ‘good enough’ look like for now for this project?” This can be your go-to phrase when tackling an activity related to your career endeavors, or indeed any aspect of fulfilling your job duties. It does not imply putting out shoddy quality work; rather, it is an intentional evaluation of how much effort is needed to get something over the finish line in a way that gets the job done.

The spirit of “good enough” involves considering concepts such as framing projects in phases or milestones, starting with a quick and dirty draft, taking a staircase approach, evolving gradually, and integrating learnings over time.

Consider using approximate language such as noodling, drafting, tweaks, micro-adjustments, practices, chapters, phases, sandboxes, incremental improvement, ongoing feedback, iteration, refinement, and editing to give yourself a sense of room to adjust and evolve the deliverable you are creating over time, as needed until it is “good enough.”

Deliberately avoiding the expectations that can trigger perfectionism and paralysis can help you to cover more ground toward your desired outcomes with less effort and reduced stress. Establishing processes for refinement and having a built-in set of checks and balances allows you and your team to take more risks and surface more innovative ideas, feeling safe to experiment. All of this can play a part in restoring your sense of flow and movement, busting through your sense of stuckness. The lack of preciousness you bring to the process of moving through projects related to your professional ambitions as well as your daily work allows you to cover more ground and right-size the effort for projects you may be overinvesting effort in completing.

This is an excerpt from Merideth’s upcoming book:  The Savvy Leader’s Career Playbook: 6 Essential Shifts to Make Your Work Work for You.