I may be living in a state of recovery, but that does not mean that I no longer have shortcomings or character defects. Something I still struggle with is a tendency towards perfectionism, just like many people in recovery. Of course, I don’t want to think of myself as a perfectionist, and there are many aspects of my life in which I am not one. But every now and then I become aware of sneaky, subtle perfectionism in some aspect of my life.
I have found a way to let go of this paralyzing shortcoming, when I find myself obsessing over something, or spending way too much time on it because I want it to be perfect. I ask myself this question: “Is it good enough?” I call this the “Good Enough” principle.
Let’s say I am taking a class. I have a solid “A,” an average of 95% and there is no way I could possibly end up with a “B” in the class. I have one project left and all I have to do is pass to keep my “A.” Of course I am not the kind of person to completely slack off and do “C” or “D” work. But really, if I have put in 10 hours, I know it is worth at least a “B” in its present form, and I have lots of other responsibilities that demand my time, it is Good Enough! I do not need to put another 5 hours into getting it from a “B” to an “A”. I already know I will get an “A” in the class.
Here is another example. I am in charge of decorations for an event at Church. I have a group of people who are helping me. I have gotten ideas from everyone, have decided on a theme and have identified who needs to bring what in order to make it happen. Everyone says it is going to be wonderful. I happen to be checking Pinterest and I find the cutest idea! It is so awesome! Everyone is going to be blown away by it. It will only require two extra committee work meetings ahead of time (or 20 hours on my part) to assemble the decorations and I will have to spend an extra $30 out of my pocket on materials because we don’t have any extra budget. STOP! Apply the Good Enough principle. No one will ever know about the cute idea we did not use. The approach we already have in place will be just fine.
I am a grateful, recovering compulsive over-eater. When I first became willing to write down my food, I asked people at my 12-Step meeting what they used to plan and record their food. Most just used an empty notebook. That did not seem sufficiently structured for me. I used desktop publishing software to design a pocket sized booklet that I could use to both plan and record my food. I created a self-publishing company, got ISBN numbers from Bowker, and actually listed it for sale on Amazon. I am not kidding! Do you think, maybe, I didn’t understand the GOOD ENOUGH principle? (I actually sold about a dozen of them.)
I have found this tendency to be a perfectionist to be particularly problematic for me and my sponsees when it comes to doing a Fourth Step inventory. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with people regarding exactly how to do an inventory. The truth is that how you do your inventory is not as important as that you do your inventory. First of all, you will get a chance to do it again the next time around. Secondly it is actually good to do it in a variety of ways over time to help you explore different aspects of your life. So just pray for guidance, pick an approach, and do it! It will be Good Enough!
- What have you been procrastinating about or wasting time on because you want it to be perfect?
- Is it already or could it relatively easily be made GOOD ENOUGH?
- What will you do today to move forward, applying the GOOD ENOUGH principle?
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