Being a strange creature that occasionally descends into the pits of perfectionism bordering compulsion, only to then exit riding a boredom rocket and ascend into the airy sphere of carelessness, I feel I need to get my thoughts together to hopefully sometime achieve consistent productivity.
Constantly living in a pathological state of carelessness has obvious and serious downsides. I would not go as far as to say it prevents one from functioning, but it condemns to a sad existence. It seems to me such a state resembles depression. Each one of us only has a finite time in existence; constantly striving to carry out as much work as possible, to the highest quality conceivable, does not guarantee finding meaning to our life beyond the biological. Not everyone has the ability or opportunity to cause great change or leave a legacy. Success can also come down to pure luck. What is an ‘obligation’, however, is for each individual to try finding this meaning. It doesn’t matter whether their aspirations are realistic or not. What matters is they have them and work towards achieving them. And having tried, it doesn’t matter whether they succeed or not.
I have devised this mentality (which, I have to admit, in its current form sounds both cheesy and pretentious) to help myself after having suffered greatly from failure, having spent a lot of time struggling to understand what was the point in trying if you didn’t succeed, and being bothered by what the meaning of (my) life was. For the longest time I just couldn’t understand how some people could just be happy. Or pretend to be. I don’t know what their mentality is. But I am happy I now have one to share.
I also find it solves another problem. If I end up despairing and losing motivation, I can remind myself that it is my ‘obligation’ while alive to work. I have to admit that external influence has, for most of my life, been more important that the internal for my progress. I think I have reached that stage of adulthood when I can change that. And I am working on it. But when all else fails, I can invoke the ‘obligation’ and drag myself around until momentum builds up again.
And this brings me to what I find detrimental with the ‘It’s good enough’ mentality. Typical of me to start with the downside. If given the option, within practical limits, of doing the best possible job, and claiming a good dose of satisfaction and pride in return, you default to the equivalent of throwing a bucket of paint at the wall to paint it, you are not just missing out on some pretend-lofty level, you are sabotaging yourself. If you never give yourself the chance to win self-respect, you are never going to have the chance to win your peers’ respect. I think children should be taught the value of picking up the paint brush and painting the wall. Even if the adult throwing the paint bucket would have ensured a better result. I could have benefited greatly from receiving such a lesson.
What is the value in being pragmatic sometimes, in saying ‘It’s good enough’ without feeling guilty? This, in my case, is something I’ve only come to learn recently, probably much later than one expects from an adult. To use the wall painting metaphor again, I think you can call it a day when aware that applying a second coat won’t turn your living room into the Sistine Chapel, no matter how hard you try. You could however look at those floors..
And if like me, you sometimes run around like a headless chicken trying to decide what to do, because you want to do everything, but don’t feel like doing anything, then just doing one thing is good enough, and you’re winning!