Edge of good enough

Photo by BrianAJackson/iStock / Getty Images

When you start a new job, you strive to exceed expectations—to be close to perfection. The first year, everything is new. The second year goes smoothly because you know what you are doing. However, you remember the promises you made to yourself when you started the job: “Don’t settle for status quo”, “question unnecessary procedures”, and “don’t do ‘just enough to get by’”.  By the third year, a temptation persists to do work that is “good enough”.

My first semester of law school, I promised myself that if there were signs that indicated becoming a lawyer was not in the cards, I was not going to resist. Like all the other law students, I had no clue what I was doing my first semester of first year. I was a new mom, so I didn’t live at the library and I didn’t have a study group. I ditched my Type A personality for a B+. I worked as hard as I could, but I didn’t treat exam preparations like I must succeed at all costs. 

My grades from first semester weren’t outstanding, but they weren’t terrible. I believed I could improve in my second semester. I changed my study location, started using study aids, and became friends with more law students. I was still (like everyone else) pretty clueless, but I started to notice something about my approach to academics. I realized there was a point in my class and exam preparation when I knew the material “good enough”. I was satisfied I wouldn’t fail, but knew I could do better.  Once I reached the edge of good enough, I forced myself to keep pushing to learn more and continue to improve.  In academics, this was new territory for me; in the past I was comfortable with good enough.  After several semesters of moving past good enough, I realized the most important payoff was the confidence that I can succeed when I go past good enough.

I run my own business, therefore, it my responsibility go beyond the edge of good enough, but stay below the line of obsessive perfectionism.  If you are in your 30s, hopefully you have realized that striving for perfection doesn’t make you happy. And, in general, it doesn’t make the people around you happy.

We know our own edge of “good enough”. In some areas of your life, good enough is appropriate (like laundry and dishes). But, if there is an area of your life where you are on the edge of good enough and it’s bothering you, then make a plan and go beyond.


Hope Woodsucess, law school, job