Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Good Enough Approach

Maybe it's the gloomy weather we've been having lately or the dwindling hours of the days.  Maybe it's the natural outcome of travel.  I've been in a negative spiral, full of self-recrimination about all I haven't gotten done.  I haven't mailed out all the poetry packets that I meant to mail, I haven't arranged as many readings as I think I should, I ate too much fried food on Saturday, I haven't written a poem in what feels like ages, I haven't been a good friend and wife, I could do more to improve our school . . . on and on I could go.

This morning, I didn't have time for my full routine with weights:  instead of 3 sets, I did one set at each machine.  And you know what?  That's probably good enough.

That realization made me wonder if I'm just being too tough on myself.  I checked my poetry notebook.  I last wrote a poem last Monday.  Even though I was travelling last week-end, I wrote blog postings in advance for the days that I was going to be away.  I haven't gotten as much in the mail as I feel like I should, but I've gotten a few packets in the mail each week.

I've done this by seizing time in whatever increments I have.  I don't have time to do a massive mailing, but if I have time to prepare a few packets, that will do.

Let me try that approach in other areas of my life.  Let me remember the ways I have achieved what I have wanted to achieve.  Let me not mourn too much that I don't have the kind of time I had when I was younger.  I've been thinking about my grad school years, when a group of us met every Saturday and did stitching all day long.  What a luxury to have that kind of time!  But even if I don't have a whole day, I have some hours here and there, and one Saturday a month.  I want more, but I'll enjoy what I have.

I will always wonder what I could be accomplishing if my life was different. I'm not good at living in the moment.  My inner critic, who sounds like a guidance counselor, is always telling me I'm not living up to my full potential.  That voice is useful at times, when I've been truly slothful.  It's not as useful when I've been doing my best.

I've been reading various blogs, and I sense I'm not the only one feeling a bit overwhelmed.  It's the time of year when we have papers to grade and appointments to keep and looming deadlines.  What more might we accomplish if we didn't wait for perfect circumstances, but instead adopted an "It's good enough" approach?


Kathleen said...

So sorry you are feeling gloomy, loom(ing), and overwhelmed, but so glad you have comforted yourself and others here!

Jim Murdoch said...

As a person who has always set impossibly high standards for himself and waited patiently on me inevitably failing to hit the mark I can sympathise. The real question here is: What exactly is good enough? I see what other bloggers put up and I’m embarrassed for them. Mostly these are the ones who try and put up something – anything – every day. My answer was to slow down. I used to post twice a week. Now I post twice every ten days. Those three days make all the difference. I can maintain quality without killing myself or overburdening my readers. I see a lot of my friends posting once a week and I look forward to reading their blogs and that is how it should be.

Wendy said...

I am quick to think that any of us who have finished a dissertation understand the "good enough" approach. I wonder sometimes if the main difference between Ph.D.s and ABDs is that embrace of "Good Enough" (and I'm sure we all know exceptions to my generality, here). Yet it's so hard to embrace this (less than) ideal in other areas of our life. Hmmm...

Kristin said...

Thank you all for your insights!