Throughout our lives we’re face with all kinds of dilemmas and decisions big and small, that we have to make in order to move forward with our lives. It’s hard. How on earth do you know if you’re making the right decision? What if it’s the wrong decision? You can end up spending so much time worrying that you never actually move forward. Which quite frankly is a waste of life. So, what do I do in this situation? Well, I ask myself the question you should always ask when faced with a dilemma: ‘Is it good enough?’
The answer to that question will always lead me in one of two directions. I either stick with what I have or I make changes that will lead me to ‘good enough’. It gives me a plan.
A strange question to ask?
This might seem a strange question to ask yourself. Perhaps the question you should ask when faced with a dilemma is something like ‘will this make me happy?’ or ‘is this the right thing to do?’
The problem with these questions is that they’re too vast and a little bit melodramatic. No one thing will ever make you happy 100%, neither can you decide if something is 100% right or wrong. It’s just not possible.
That’s why ‘is it good enough?’ is such a great question.
How I came across the idea of ‘good enough’
Now, I can’t lay claim to idea of ‘good enough’ as a challengeclare original! It was in fact an awesome piece of advice I was given by a counsellor I saw about ten years ago.
At the time, I was struggling in quite a few aspects of my personal life, this was caused by having experienced some not particularly pleasant events combined with some major life changes.
I was looking for answers to lots of questions, when she suggested to me, that actually, ‘is it good enough?’ was the question that I should be asking. It was a revelation. It changed my perspective on how to approach decision making and laid the foundations for the life I live today.
How does it help?
The beauty of asking yourself this question is twofold. Firstly, it moves you away from the pursuit of perfection, (something that can never be achieved).
‘Good enough’ isn’t about perfection, it’s about being satisfied with the current status quo and doing something about it if you’re not, until you get to ‘good enough’. It gets you to focus on the stuff that really matters to you alone, and no one else.
Secondly, ‘good enough’ is just like life. It’s transient and it changes.
When there is no right or wrong, there can be no success or failure, which makes it much easier to move forward in whatever direction you want to.
I don’t want you to think that it’s about settling for less than you deserve. It isn’t. ‘Good enough’ isn’t about lowering your standards, it’s about working out what is really, truly important to you, holding on to that, letting go of the stuff that isn’t important and being realistic about your expectations.
If you sweat over the small stuff and have unrealistic expectations, you will never be happy.
How does it work?
I’m going to give you some examples so you can see what I mean…
Let’s start with a small ish dilemma. You want your home to be consistently clean and tidy.
Seems reasonable enough, doesn’t it? Now, lot’s of people want to have a beautiful home, an insta worthy home, tastefully decorated, no clutter, clean and tidy, straight out of the pages of an interior design magazine.
But the reality is you have 3 kids under 5, a dog, you work, you’re looking after the kids, and your other half isn’t a millionaire. So that showhome dream just isn’t realistic, it isn’t going to happen for maybe another 20 years.
If you hold on to that desire of an immaculate home, you are going to be permanently miserable. So, you have to work out what your achievable ‘good enough’ is. A splash of magnolia, some extra storage, a bit of help from the other half to clear the decks at the end of the day, if you can afford it, a cleaner…
Holding on to the fact that you have 3 beautiful children to enjoy (They’ll only wreck that cream carpet anyway!) is far more important than an immaculate home. Once you’ve worked out your ‘good enough’ you’ll be way more content and satisfied because actually, you’ve got the important stuff covered, and that ‘good enough’ will evolve as your life does.
A bigger dilemma.
Let’s say. you’re unhappy in your relationship.
Now this one seems quite simple. You’re unhappy, so surely it can’t be good enough right? Actually, this is not necessarily the case.
Do you know why? Because life, can be an utter shower of shit!
Illness, redundancy, money problems, parenting, caring, addiction, death, moving house are just a few of the curveballs thrown at us that impact on our ability to be a good partner. As long as your partner isn’t physically or emotionally abusive or controlling, it may well be that actually it’s external pressures on the relationship that are shaking it, making you both unhappy, not the relationship itself.
You weren’t always unhappy in the relationship, so the question you need to ask yourself is; ‘is this good enough right now, given the situation?’ Or, what needs to change to make it ‘good enough’?
You need to be realistic.
Long term relationships do change, people change, life changes. So sadly, it won’t always be like it was at the beginning.
Another mistake we often make is that we expect our partner ‘to make us happy’. A recipe for disaster! it’s just not fair to hold another person responsible for your happiness. It’s a huge pressure and responsibility for them, not to mention impossible for them to achieve.
Another common problem is that we see our partner’s behaviour and actions as a direct reflection of their feelings for us. Which when you think about it logically is daft. They might have had a bad day, they might just be following habits they’ve had for years, they’re tired, they’re showing love in their own way…
I would suggest that ‘good enough in this situation’ is both parties taking responsibility for their own happiness, being committed to the relationship, being open to communication, loving and forgiving each other.
But what I think doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s good enough for you.
That’s why ‘is it good enough?’ Is the question you should always ask when faced with a dilemma.
For more of my musing on how to approach challenges and dilemmas have a look here.