3 Reasons Why Being 'Good Enough' Is Better Than Being Perfect

Perfectionism leaves no room for improvement or failure, but 'good enough' leaves comfortable room for both. Here's how.

Mark Travers, Ph.D.

By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | June 20, 2024

Striving for excellence can drive personal and professional growth, but the pursuit of perfection often leads to unnecessary stress, anxiety and a constant feeling of inadequacy. This is where the concept of being "good enough" comes into play. Being good enough means acknowledging and embracing your strengths and limitations, setting realistic goals and finding satisfaction in your efforts and accomplishments without the relentless pressure to be flawless.

Unlike perfectionism, which is characterized by a fear of failure and excessive self-criticism, being good enough focuses on balance and self-acceptance. It allows individuals to appreciate their progress and achievements without the debilitating pressure to meet unrealistic standards.

Here are three significant ways striving to be good enough positively impacts individuals beyond just reducing stress and anxiety.

1. Enhances Positivity And Creativity

Research suggests that positive affect leads to creativity, which in turn boosts positivity. Embracing the idea of being good enough opens the door to a more positive and creative mindset by alleviating the fear of mistakes and the pressure of perfectionism.

Creativity thrives in environments where experimentation is encouraged and mistakes are seen as learning experiences. Without the constraint of perfectionism, individuals are more likely to take risks and think outside the box, leading to innovative solutions and new ways of thinking.

For instance, artists who embrace being good enough may discover new techniques and ideas, resulting in unique works of art. Similarly, employees who feel empowered to be good enough may propose unconventional ideas that drive innovation and efficiency within their organizations.

Moreover, a good enough mindset can transform how individuals handle setbacks and challenges. Instead of viewing mistakes as catastrophic failures, they can see them as integral parts of the learning process. This resilience not only enhances personal growth but also contributes to a more supportive and collaborative environment where individuals feel more comfortable sharing their ideas.

2. Encourages A Growth Mindset

Striving to be good enough aligns closely with the principles of a growth mindset, a concept popularized by psychologist Carol Dweck. A growth mindset is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication, effort and persistence.

In contrast, a fixed mindset holds that abilities are static and unchangeable. Perfectionists often see failures as personal inadequacies, but those aiming to be good enough understand setbacks as indicators of growth. This perspective reduces the fear of failure, allowing people to take on new challenges with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

A 2023 study shows that a growth mindset encourages continuous self-improvement. Focusing on progress over perfection motivates people to develop their skills and knowledge.

For example, in educational settings, students with a growth mindset are more likely to embrace challenging subjects and persist through difficulties, leading to better academic performance and a more positive attitude towards learning. Similarly, in the workplace, employees who believe in their capacity for growth are more likely to seek professional development opportunities, take on new responsibilities and contribute to their organization's success.

People embracing this mindset are also more likely to set realistic goals and take incremental steps towards achieving them. Celebrating small victories builds momentum and fosters a sense of accomplishment that fuels further growth.

3. Maintains Relationships And Social Connections

Research indicates that social isolation is a common issue among people with perfectionistic tendencies. Embracing the idea of being "good enough" fosters a compassionate and realistic view of oneself.

This involves recognizing one's strengths and achievements while also acknowledging limitations and imperfections without harsh self-judgment. This leads to more stable and positive self-esteem, grounded in self-compassion and self-worth that is independent of external validation.

Here's how this shift from judgment to self-acceptance can lead to more harmonious and fulfilling relationships:

  • In family and intimate relationships, a good enough mindset reduces the pressure to prove oneself, allowing for more meaningful interactions. This leads to an increased willingness to show vulnerability and connect on a deeper level, forming strong, lasting relationships. The resulting openness leads to better communication, more effective conflict resolution and mutual trust.
  • In professional settings, a good enough mentality can enhance teamwork and collaboration. Perfectionistic tendencies can lead to micromanagement, lack of delegation and a tense working environment. However, when individuals accept that being good enough is sufficient, they are more likely to trust their colleagues, delegate tasks effectively and work collaboratively towards common goals. This approach not only improves team dynamics but also boosts overall productivity and job satisfaction.

The pursuit of being "good enough" is not about settling for mediocrity—it is about embracing a balanced and realistic approach to life. In a world that often glorifies perfection, adopting the philosophy of being good enough can be a powerful and liberating choice.

Do you struggle with perfectionistic rumination? Take the Mistake Rumination Scale to learn more.

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