Some Days, 85% is Good Enough

I am the worst person to go to the gym with, my sister says. No matter what I’ve done during my workout, as we’re leaving the gym, I’m complaining. I could have done another rep, I say. I could have ran five more minutes. I didn’t really need to take a water break. I end my whine session with saying, today’s workout wasn’t all that great. And true to character, my sister looks at me and rolls her eyes. At least you went, she says. That’s good enough.

What is “good enough?” It seems as if it’s a state, not a goal. “Good enough” is often not what we strive toward, but where we end up in pursuit of the goal. Most people frame “good enough” as a cop-out, a negative. “Good enough” is what we say when we don’t really want to put any more work in, or we don’t particularly care about the goal.

The truth is that while we think of “good enough” as a bother keeping us from pursuing our goals, all of us would be dead if it weren’t for that little phrase. There are areas of our lives where we can’t physically spare the time to put in our 100%. Me putting in my 100% on my Statistics class would mean that I literally wouldn’t sleep. Ever.

There are also times in our lives where we won’t be able to put in the 100% because it’s just not going to happen. We’re sad, we’re tired, we lack focus. Some days our “best” is going to be 85%, and that’s it.

While making “good enough” the norm isn’t anything to live by, it gives us room to have some days that suck. It allows us to admit that there are constraints on our 100%. I don’t have the time to give my absolute 100%, work-out-until-I-pass-out effort every day at the gym, nor do I really wish to work out until I physically pass out (because wouldn’t that technically be 100%?). If I held myself to some high standard of “I’m ALWAYS going to give my 100%,” I would probably never go to the gym at all.

In pursuit of our goals, it’s the cliche to say that we plan on “giving our all.” But in order to operate in the real world and to avoid getting discouraged, sometimes we have to perform at a level that is “good enough.” We have to allow ourselves to have less-than-stellar days and to accept that an effort which was not so hot is still progress compared to no effort made at all.

At the end of the day, “good enough” still has “good” in it. And that’s “good enough” for me.

*Inspired by a wordpress prompt about obstacles that get in our way of accomplishing what we’d like to do.

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5 thoughts on “Some Days, 85% is Good Enough

    • Thank you! I actually don’t think so, especially if we allow it to be an exception not a rule. Furthermore, we base our self esteem on different domains (I might base mine on my athletic ability or my writing skills). If we give 85% in a domain which we do not mainly base our self-esteem on (Statistics, for example), our self-esteem shouldn’t be impacted and in fact might be boosted because we can then focus on those things which we DO base our self-esteem on. Thank you for reading and commenting!



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