February 28, 2018

How good are you at getting something to good enough? It turns out that, in many cases, learning to get creations to good enough is what separates people who thrive in "Project World" from those who don’t.

Imagine that the quality of ideas or products is laid on a continuum. On one end of the continuum is crap. Not just bad ideas, but genuine crap. On the other end of the continuum is perfection. No one wants to produce crap and few actually do; everyone wants to produce a perfect creation.

Everyone wants to produce a perfect creation.

Here’s what I’m starting to see, both in my own creations and by reading about the creative processes of others: It’s impossible to get an idea to the excellent stage without aiming for simply good enough first.


I’ll take a second to describe the points along this continuum.

First, there’s the 'OK' point

Creations at the OK level are just that–they’re neither good nor bad. For one reason or the other, they need more work. What separates this point from the next is that it’s often clear what needs to be done to make the creation better. Unfortunately, this is where most half-done projects get stuck, and since they’re stuck here, they don’t get to "good enough."

The 'Good Enough' point

This is the point at which you’ve pushed past OK and you know the creation is not quite there, but either you have no idea how to get it there or you’re not sure which path you should take to get it there.

The "Good Enough" point may manifest itself in the intro that won’t write itself. It may be a function in the code that causes some problem on the backend that makes your program run slower. It may be a color combination that seems close enough but not exactly complementary. And sometimes it’s just a jingle that we spend time on that, in the end, doesn’t matter.

The "Good Enough" point may manifest itself in the intro that won’t write itself.

Most people do one of two things at this point: quit out of frustration or fiddle with the creation continuously. Some people, though, can push the project through the creative red zone. If you find yourself in this spot, try a little "creative destruction"—throw out your current methods and try an entirely new approach. Or, try showing your work to other people who can offer a fresh perspective.

The 'Excellent' point

A creation at this level is the best it can be; any more work on the product doesn’t make it better–it just makes it different.

Most people know when they’ve reached this point with the product, though they still may have insecurities and creative doubt that prevent them from sharing the product with the broader world. Or they’re grappling with their perfectionism and don’t realize that there’s no such thing as the perfect creation. (At least that mere mortals can create; I’m willing to keep theological options open.)

Aim for 'Good Enough'

When we let go of "perfect" and aim for "good enough," we release the pressure to nail something on the first go—the pressure that often stops us from even starting. Work your way to "good enough," and, once you get there, trust you'll learn how to make it better and level up to "excellent."

So, what can you do to get your projects to good enough? How many projects do you have at that stage, and whom can you share them with? Are you fiddling with a project–making it different but not better?

Whatever you do, internalize this saying: “Good enough and done is better than perfect and pending.”

A version of this article originally appeared on ProductiveFlourishing.com

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