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When is enough, enough?
A project does not need to be 100% complete or even 90% to earn the title “good enough.” Good enough happens around 80%–the point of diminishing returns where additional effort is usually not worth it.
In a world where you can’t accomplish everything you want to, good enough is perfect.
An Optimal Return Is Good Enough
Imagine your friend asking you to sit and talk and with her. She will probably be pleased even if you do nothing else. But what will happen if you talk, bring her an expensive gift, and neglect to pay your electric bill? At best you have a happy friend and no power at home. If your friend finds out you neglected your responsibilities to give her something she didn’t want or need, your relationship will likely become awkward. A happy, giftless friend is better than having your electricity shut off and your friend no happier.
Maybe though, you will feel happier giving a gift than paying your bill? While that is possible, it doesn’t seem wise. If that sounds appealing, mostly like you are self-deceived. Consider exploring your motivation for the gift. Are you avoiding something negative (feeling guilty or inadequate) or trying to force something positive (make your friend indebted to you)? You might be happy immediately, but you won’t be happy when the food in your refrigerator spoils or you have no hot water.
Two good enough outcomes are better than one great and one poor outcome.
A Fulfilled Priority Is Good Enough
You have four hours to clean your home and visit with your friend. You could tell your friend you are busy and spend all four hours cleaning. You could skip cleaning and spend all your time with your friend. But maybe cleaning for two hours will clean 80% of the mess. Then you have two hours to spend with your friend.
You can accomplish more if you can prioritize and accept good enough.
You Are Good Enough
You are better off with fewer possessions or worldly accomplishments if it means you are placing your trust in God even more. Allow God to motivate you instead of feelings of guilt or inadaquacy. Choose peace over anxiety, enjoyment over striving.
Trust in the Lord and do good;Psalm 37:3-4 NIV
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Better Than Good Enough Is Costly
Going beyond good enough is an expression of our longing for perfection. God made us to desire good things. When we experience negatives, we can attempt to reclaim perfection, but it is costly.
Appearing generous to your friends or having a spotless home can feel amazing at the moment. But think about this: what is the opportunity cost? What are you giving up in order to briefly have something exactly the way you want it? Fulfilling this desire for perfection is not necessary to be content.
We have a “profit” that is greater than theirs—our holy awe of God! To have merely our necessities is to have enough. Isn’t it true that our hands were empty when we came into the world, and when we leave this world our hands will be empty again? Because of this, food and clothing is enough to make us content. But those who crave the wealth of this world slip into spiritual snares. They become trapped by the troubles that come through their foolish and harmful desires, driven by greed and drowning in their own sinful pleasures. And they take others down with them into their corruption and eventual destruction.1 Timothy 6:6–9 TPT
Good enough gets the job done and leaves energy for many other activities that matter to you. Where have you been unnecessarily wasteful in your life? How can you aim for less but end up with more? Look for inefficiencies in your motivations. You don’t need to exhaust yourself chasing after empty promises. What can you accomplish that is important to you and to God if you could only accept good enough in other areas of your life?
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.