In our yogic journey, we learn all the time about gratification, satisfaction, and acceptance. We try to enjoy the pleasure of simple things, and the beauty of the minimal. We avoid perfectionism and try to live by humble attitudes to make our life more peaceful.
But when and where do we cross the line between simple living and lazy living? Between being a perfectionist and just floating below-average?
Don't Be a "Satisficer"
The Nobel Prize scientist, Herbert Simon, coined a very interesting term in 1956; "satisfice". This verb is a combination of satisfy and suffice. It simply means choosing a satisfactory option which is fine or adequate or “gets the job done anyway” over a better option because the latter might require more time and effort.
A satisficer is an individual who accepts to settle for a good-enough choice, which is not the optimal one possible. The same goes with decisions, solutions, alternatives and such.
Our lives will not be severely compromised because we follow a good-enough road sometimes. It’s ok to go with pizza or Big Mac for dinner, rather than a balanced healthy meal from time to time. But the problem arises when we enter the sphere of relationships and performance.
If weak interpersonal communications satisfy us, and our actions and productivity are believed to suffice, satisfice here can be a recipe for failure on many levels.
The good-enough attitude can disappoint our husbands, wives, parents, children, or friends and may even permanently ruin our relationships with them. The good-enough attitude can drive our performance level down the drain without even realizing we came to terms with this.
The Whys and the Hows
To get your head around the reasons behind good-enough attitude, and how you can avoid it, it's important to understand where it arises from.
The Why: Multiple Personalities
You cannot deny that there are two versions of everyone — maybe more in some cases, even — the nice one and the real one.
The first version of yourself is the socially-smart person who knows the ways of the world and acts according to them. He tries not to raise his voice when he gets angry in public, pretends to pay attention to what someone is saying, gets to work on time, smiles, does his tasks quickly and efficiently, pays compliments, and avoids conflicts with coworkers.
The other version is the real you. The unvarnished self. It’s you in your pajamas, grumpy often, mumbling when spoken to, eyes hooked on TV or cell phone, easily provoked, and the words “thank you” or “I appreciate your effort” are rarely heard coming out of his mouth.
The reason for developing this kind of double personality is pretty simple — consequences. At the workplace, there is a whole system designed to evaluate everyone constantly. Your career will be ruined if you acted indifferently and showed low-quality performance. There's a lot of things at stake here: money, titles, prestige, and keeping our job.
On the other hand, there is no assessment report for how you act as a husband or wife, parent or child. So, you unveil your real attitudes, temperaments, and desires.
It takes years for someone to rage against an unfulfilling relationship, and in many cases, it never happens. And this keeps the good-enough attitude alive and going on over a long time.
The How: Combine and Blend
Realistically speaking, you cannot unleash the real you on all people all the time. We need to bring the two versions of yourself closer, squeeze the gap between the nice you and the real you.
The goal is to get the best of both "versions" of you together, to become the person you ought to be — authentic and with a humanly honest effort to be good to everyone and everywhere.
The Why: Lack of Motivation
Motivation is key to a better anything; health, marriage, parenting, career, spiritual practice, and so on. You can do anything if you found the right motive, nurtured it, and kept it alive.
Also, you can start doing everything with the lowest standard you can reach when you lose motivation.
The How: Temet Nosce
Know thyself. Self-knowledge will help you understand what drives your motivation up and down. You need to analyze and discover yourself. Ask when and where was the last time your motivation was up the roof. How did that happen?
Appreciate your individual stories and qualities. It is important to be the best version of yourself, not someone’s else.
Goals drive our motivation as well. Check your goals, how you plan to achieve them, and spend time thinking about their nature and suitability for the time being.
Life takes us often to different paths and confuses our purpose with daily distractions. This is the time to stop, self-study, make changes, and set new goals.
The Why: Weak Skills
Skill affects motivation. Good skills mean easier execution, and higher motivation to continue doing it. Bad skills mean harder execution, lower motivation, and reluctance to put a better effort in it.
The How: Get Serious or Get Out
There is no magic advice here, either you care enough to put the time and effort required to gain a skill, or go search and find yourself something else. Something that makes you tick and shows the world how much you deeply care, not how barely you do.
“If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you'll be unhappy for the rest of your life.” ~Abraham Maslow
The Why: Ego Depletion
Doing or choosing something "good enough" over something better is a clear sign of ego depletion. Like a fuel tank, our willpower is finite. Each time we use it, we are more prone to bad judgment and vulnerable to good-enough attitude.
The How: Plan Plan Plan
Read our discussion of ego depletion again, and you will find valuable ways to beat it. The most vital step is to plan your days ahead and minimize the mental effort whenever is possible.
When "Good Enough" is Not Good Enough
Sometimes we become aware of the good-enough trap too late. We see a friend lost his family in an accident, or someone has been unemployed for five years. And suddenly it begins to dawn on us; this can be taken away from me in a second.
“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be.” Mahatma Gandhi
If you believe in good-enough attitude, that’s what you will become— a good-enough person.
We are not advocating perfectionism here — it is a fruitless pursuit. All you need to do is treat every day as if it’s your last one on earth, appreciate each moment and stick with each opportunity to the bitter end.
Don't just give up and settle. Never stop asking yourself: “can I really do better?” and always believe you deserve better than what’s good enough.
Did you ever catch yourself settling for a good-enough choice? How did that make you feel? Share your thoughts with us.