So how about that election, huh? Don’t worry, that’s all I have to say about that.
Every morning I get an inspirational text delivered to my phone. Most days it’s something I glance at and immediately forget because I’m not really struggling with anything. Some days it relates eerily well to something giving me trouble. Occasionally I have no idea what it even means, as was the case early last week with this message:
Sometimes the good is the enemy of the best.
I could not for the life of me figure out what that meant. I didn’t think to google it, or I didn’t want to, but I didn’t stop puzzling over what it meant. Then we were watching tv Friday night and it came up in the context of don’t settle for good when you can have better. The oddest thing in all of this is we were watching Basic Instinct (don’t judge me) so now I think maybe I hallucinated the whole thing.
The next morning I googled the quote, only in typical fashion I got it backwards and searched this:
The best is the enemy of the good.
I like this quote better. It basically means stop trying to achieve perfection because it doesn’t exist. This led me to the pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule. Typically it’s used in business models, ie 80% of a company’s revenue may come from 20% of their customers. I was more intrigued by the idea that it takes 20% of our time to complete 80% of a task. The remaining 80% of that time is often used to try and achieve a possibly impossible state of perfection.
Oh god, can I relate to this. The last, sizable step of any project I undertake goes to undoing my attempts at perfection.
Yesterday I read a post on why Good Enough Isn’t that hit home. The author talks about taking a break from something and coming back to it with a set of fresh eyes and making the needed changes to put the project to bed. He also talks about good not being good enough, which I also relate to. Good enough is dangerous for me because in recovery I’ve learned I must grow or perish. But growth can be slow, which feels natural and realistic to maintain in the long run.
This leads to middle ground, a compromise between both quotes. Good is enough for me until it isn’t. I usually know when this happens because I start to feel restless and discontent. When I started running earlier this year, it was because I felt tired of walking. It didn’t satisfy me anymore, so I started running and struggled like hell the first few months but stuck with it. Fortunately running offers an abundance of challenges, but even so I’ve tried to stay tuned to my body for signs of when I need to push ahead or even scale back my goals. This system seems to work for me.
One final thought on the 80-20 rule. I can’t focus on 100% of the things I want to change myself. I can’t even focus on 80% of them because 1) I’d fail 2) I know I’d fail so I wouldn’t even try in the first place so I’d, uh, fail. I’m much better off focusing on the top 20% of the things I need to work on. I’m comfortable relying on instinct to tell me when it’s time to move on to something else. I’ll continue to work on my burning desire to make everything perfect, aka a complete mess.
The answer lies in balance and finding and maintaining it. Good thing this seems to get magically, mysteriously easier to pursue the longer I am without a drink.