April 30, 2009

Good enough*

andrea_rear_view.jpg
Self-portrait, Seattle, WA, Canon Rebel Xti

If you are reading this you are probably overwhelmed. Right? (If you aren't overwhelmed I would love to know your secret!) But for the rest of us, we live in a world where we are juggling so many things. Whether it's juggling kids and work, a day job with your creative life, or all the other commitments and responsibilities we take on, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed a lot of the time. But something got clear for me today.

I have been reading the super inspiring Chris Guillebeau's site recently, and something in his 279 days manifesto really hit home. It was a small thing, directed toward bloggers like myself, a simple recommendation to schedule the days that you publish. It doesn't matter if you choose 2, 3 or 7 days, just choose what days you want to publish and follow through on that promise.

I had been thinking about doing this already, but what I realized is what creating a schedule actually gives you-- Enoughness. Really, truly. In the world of overwhelm there is never enough. There is not enough time, money, resources, to keep you going. Your heart is racing, you are always behind, you are not doing enough. It is a rough way to live. I know this from personal experience.

What I considered today was this: What if I decided what was enough? What if I decided that posting three essays a week was really, really enough? Or maybe two essays is enough. When I think about simplifying my life, I need to consider the question: How much is enough for me to feel satisfied? How much will get the job done? It occurred to me that it's possible that I already average about 2 or 3 posts a week, but I never feel the satisfaction of a job well done, or a sense of completion because I never declared what I was committed to. I never decided what was enough.

I can also see that I suffer from the same problem in the realm of finances. I don't create sales goals or budgets, I don't know for sure how much money I make or how much money I need to earn to keep my finances healthy and abundant. I simply bust my butt to make as much as I can, spend as little as possible, treat myself to cute clothes occasionally and pray that everything works out. This does not make me a bad person, and so far it has worked out okay, but I also rob myself of the satisfaction of knowing I am earning what I set out to. My default is to assume that I'm not earning enough, or not doing enough to earn that money, but a lot of the time I actually am.

Does anyone out there relate to this?

Where in our lives have we not distinguished what enough looks like? Without this, we are constantly disappointed in ourselves, constantly afraid and thoroughly overwhelmed. And if we are creating realistic goals and still feeling overwhelmed, perhaps it's time to simplify again. Saying no is powerful.

And if you are a perfectionist like me, and wonder if good enough is well, good enough, I am here to say that it is. Good enough is really effin good.

Posted on April 30, 2009 02:45 PM
Comments

WOW....talk about hitting the nail on the head....this is amazing!

Posted by: Sue at May 21, 2009 01:03 PM

you are SO right! Thanks for the reminder!

Posted by: Jo Hilton at May 11, 2009 06:34 PM

Amen! Good enough is definitely good enough.

Posted by: Sue at May 10, 2009 12:29 PM

I needed to read this post. Thank you.

Posted by: W. Lotus at May 10, 2009 10:27 AM

this post was a gift to me. words that have resonated with me over and over in the last few days. thank you.

Posted by: erin at May 5, 2009 06:54 PM

I am usually pretty good about picking out the really important stuff. Truth is that even when I nothing to do, I have so much I can never get it all done.

So, I just shrug my shoulders and do the best that I can. Most of the time it works for me.

Posted by: Jack at May 5, 2009 09:43 AM

I am usually pretty good about picking out the really important stuff. Truth is that even when I nothing to do, I have so much I can never get it all done.

So, I just shrug my shoulders and do the best that I can. Most of the time it works for me.

Posted by: Jack at May 5, 2009 09:43 AM

I love this post. Mostly because it is exactly what I've been struggling with lately. Accepting that what I do - how much I work, what I have in my savings account, how I spend my free time...all those things that we think about every day...is enough. It is. I know. It's just learning to say it out loud, and stick with my decision that is difficult. I'm glad that I'm not the only one.

Posted by: Barmaid at May 5, 2009 08:46 AM

Wow! Thanks so much for sharing 279 days! I had not heard of Chris until now, and his writings (and yours) are really resonating with me these days! As I get older (and perhaps more impatient) I've been better about saying no...to activities that don't fulfill me, to people who drain my energy and not feed it, etc. Still learning though..always learning. And that's good enough!

Posted by: Dreaming Bear at May 5, 2009 04:19 AM

Your posts are enough, their frequency is enough, and you are not alone in your good karma approach to finances.
:)

Posted by: Kristen Fischer at May 4, 2009 07:52 PM

Oh my goodness....AMEN!

Posted by: Junelle at May 4, 2009 07:20 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Posted by: Kelly at May 4, 2009 10:05 AM

Hallelujah!! xoxo, ~ M.

Posted by: Mariella at May 4, 2009 09:59 AM

Hi, nice post. I have been wondering about this topic,so thanks for writing. I'll certainly be coming back to your posts.

Posted by: How I Lost Thirty Pounds in Thirty Days at May 3, 2009 01:40 PM

I can totally relate. I had told myself that finding a part time job with good pay would make me happy. And it does, but now every time I have a creative spark that I don't have time to fulfill I long for the days of full time mommyhood. Though my memory reminds me that I did NOT have limitless time before my job. I miss blogging regularly and though I never had raging success, I miss creating things to sell. I've started slowly again, so I'll see if I get a little closer to having enough.

Posted by: Wanett at May 3, 2009 01:18 PM

Thank you for this post!

Posted by: Connie at May 3, 2009 01:06 PM

I just came upon your blog by accident. I love the style of it and your photos. I can totally relate. Two kids,three dogs, husband with a fledgling career me trying to enter the work force by re-creating myself while still making money at what I used to do before kids.
The stress is eating me up and I was having chest pains all week because I worked three days. I think it is stress related not a heart attack!! I feel like inside my body I am reved up to 200 mph and my outside body is at 40 mph. I cannot move fast enough. I want to change my life but it seems so hard to do. I am determined to make it better but it is so hard to get out of the rat race. I dream of a farm and rolling hills.
Thanks for your site. I will keep checking it for inspiration.

Posted by: laura Bednarski at May 3, 2009 06:31 AM

Oh yes. Yes. This is what I've been struggling to put my finger on in my relationship, "how much time together is enough?" - without a realistic idea of that it is easy to never feel like you are doing 'enough'. Ditto in writing, in looking after friends, in yoga, in work. I so hope this continues to help you feel more than good enough! Thanks Andrea!

Posted by: Marianne at May 2, 2009 07:04 PM

I see by the number of comments that there are many of us "in this boat" together. thank you for helping to put this into perspective, it is a very powerful message.

Posted by: marcy at May 2, 2009 05:39 PM

i just recently found the bloggers and quite by accident.my son wanted to know the name of the fish who cleaned the gums and bums of hippos!that simple inquiry has happily found me now following faster than kudzu-joshilyn jackson,beautifulday2-tracy olan and now you .all leaving me going yay and goody goody gum drops!and good enuf is sometimes better than we thought it would be!i don't myself blog but have started keeping a journal again and well...thats good enuf!
chheers.

Posted by: traci at May 2, 2009 05:26 PM

Andrea, this is so great! I've been thinking through these issues a lot lately, particularly because I, like you, am such a perfectionist! In the past, I would set myself up for failure because I would write crazy lists of things I *needed* to do in order to feel like I was doing a *perfect* job, but what I didn't realize is that this was total self-sabotage, so now I'm committed to setting reasonable goals, scheduling stuff in, and making known my commitments, that way I can feel really proud of myself when I achieve them. As a bonus, it's nice to know that these goals really ARE achievable!

Thanks, as always, for being your wise, beautiful self! You have the gift of being able to articulate the thing that I (and probably many others) most need to hear.

Posted by: rachel at May 2, 2009 11:21 AM

thank you for putting this out there, because i can so relate to this... i tend to be an all or nothung kind of gal, and with that comes the strain of trying to everything all of the time. i am gald i am not alone, and it help so much to simply think i can determine what is good enough (especially in the rhelm of being a mom :) - so simple, yet so tricky sometimes.

Posted by: pink sky at May 2, 2009 09:11 AM

Oh, I 100% relate to this. I'm a teacher, and this week I've been telling myself, "okay, you need to just pick 2 or 3 days of the week, where you will stay till 5 or 6 pm and whatever gets done in that period of time, has to be enough." Most of the time I feel like I could just work and work and work and plan and plan and plan and it's never enough, I always feel behind, I rarely feel like I'm doing a good enough job. On weeks when I've scheduled my work time, I'm so much more satisfied. Thanks for affirming what I've been thinking. I'm going to do it.

Posted by: Monica at May 2, 2009 08:24 AM

oh thank god.
its not just me.

well put andrea,,,
this helps me heaps.

thank you.
mccabe x

Posted by: mccabe at May 2, 2009 12:14 AM

oh thank god.
its not just me.

well out andrea,,,
this helps me heaps.

thank you.
mccabe x

Posted by: mccabe at May 2, 2009 12:14 AM

Effen' Great is more like it. Someone once said being overwhelmed is the case of thinking about one thing while you are doing another.
This provided me with a lot of freedom in this area. If I am thinking about how I am doing I am not being present to what I am doing or being.
I totally love and relate to what you wrote. I often forget to say what is enough as a mom because it occurs like there is never enough. I can always give more so shouldn't I? Not necessarily right!
Thank you for the reminder.
Love,
Jen

Posted by: Jen Diamond at May 1, 2009 08:51 PM

Sometimes I say the 'enough' prayer. It goes like this, "I have done enough work today, I have enough money today, I have folded enough laundry, I have done enough housework..." and so on. This can be said at 9 am, when the say has just started because really, however things are is enough.

Posted by: Zoe at May 1, 2009 07:36 PM

Andrea,
Thank you for being so gut honest. This is one of the best, most spot on essay's you've written in some time, in my opinion. I've already passed it on to a number of women friends. Thanks also for the link to Chris's website.I'm hooked and You Rock Girl!!! Thanks, J.

Posted by: Julian at May 1, 2009 03:27 PM

Andrea, I so needed this post!! Thank you for helping me see I need to define what is "enough" for me.

I love flowers and for me they really help me to define what is enough for me — I wrote more on this on my blog today and it helped me to really see that I need a) a new relationship to enoughness and b) to define what enoughness is. (Like you, I realized I don't have a sense of what is enough yet.)

P.S. And thanks for the reminder to read Chris's e-manifesto. I downloaded it a week ago and haven't yet read it. I love his stuff!

Posted by: Shannon at May 1, 2009 02:42 PM

Ah...realistic goals (or even defining any at all) has never been my forte...what a great reminder. Thank you :)

Posted by: Chloe at May 1, 2009 02:31 PM

Oh, I could so relate to this post!!!

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on the subject.

Posted by: leah at May 1, 2009 02:10 PM

This was totally an "aha" moment for me. I forwarded it on to girlfriend of mine that will totally "get it" too. Thanks for the wise words.

Posted by: Jamie at May 1, 2009 01:42 PM

Often 'Good Enough' is more than effin enough, its fan freakin tastic because we are our own worst critics. Good Enough for us over achievers is soooo much more than just enough for the average bear.
You know what I mean?

Posted by: Deanna at May 1, 2009 12:24 PM

Andrea- Yes, I relate. Last year I asked the talented Mccabe to paint me a "good enough" rock. She did and I tucked it into my bag and hold it like a talisman. And yesterday I stumbled across jen gray's amazing recent treatise on enoughness and doubt: http://www.jengray.com/archives/001185.html
and now your wonderful post!
Do you think maybe the universe is trying to tell me something? Oh yes I struggle with this. It is such a STRIVING world we live it, it is always about our ambition, not our beings. What if we spent more time enjoying where we are then in perpetual pursuit? I can hardly imagine it. I have a scarcity issue that feeds into this issue of enoughness. I recently realized that I have no faith that I will get what I need when I need it. This is something I am working on. Thanks for this wonderful, insightful, honest post.

Posted by: Kate at May 1, 2009 12:02 PM

Would it freak you out if I tell you how much I love you for saying this?

Thanks for sharing the website and the insight. I have no idea how much is enough, but you are so right to know that it first must be defined.

love.

Posted by: pixiemama at May 1, 2009 11:38 AM

A-MEN!
well put. thank you for saying what so many of us need to hear.

Posted by: becky at May 1, 2009 11:02 AM

O.
M.
G.

Enoughness. That is excatly what I have needed to figure out. There are so many things going on in my life, so many balls in the air, that NOT ONE do I feel I am doing well enough - or let's be honest, even well.

Maybe it is about doing enough. Enough.

Posted by: Anon at May 1, 2009 10:54 AM

i'm totally loving Chris's site and 279 manifesto - thanks for the turn on. I of course like you go back and forth on what's enough and reading this just makes me feel like i'm not alone :) thank you...xoxo

Posted by: stef at May 1, 2009 08:38 AM

The great thing about the concept of "enough" is that it starts to change your whole life -- you stop being so competitive with others because, hey, there's enough for everyone. You stop panicking about not having more because, hey, you have enough! Really good words of wisdom, so thank you for posting them. Also, thank you so much for that link. What a great site.

Posted by: Mal* at May 1, 2009 06:15 AM

I so needed to hear this. Especially as mothers I think it's so easy to get caught up in Enoughness. Overwhelmed by all the responsibilities and having unrealistic expectations. For me being a stay-at-home mom I'm always struggling with the household duties, volunteering, kids' activities and what's enough. It's hard to find the balance. But you hit it on the nail. We need to decide what's enough and be OK with that. Wow! Thanks for sharing that.

Posted by: Amber at May 1, 2009 06:14 AM

Yeah. A very good idea. Allowing myself to meet realistic, good enough goals, instead of always reaching for the impossible, unstated, perfect dreams.

Another issue for me is the productivity. If I am not producing something, it's almost as if I feel there is no evidence for my existence. That's wacky, but there it is.

Posted by: rowena at May 1, 2009 05:55 AM

Does this resonate? ABSOLUTELY. You have a way of putting my feelings into words. Will there ever be enough money & time are two BIG ones. Going to a party, is this gift enough? Does my son have enough clothes for the summer? Is there enough food for the people coming over? Enough sleep?

Posted by: Mama Leone at May 1, 2009 05:49 AM

What a refreshing way to look at things in this spring season of rebirth. Thanks for the food for thought.

Posted by: Sarah at May 1, 2009 05:42 AM

this resonnated with me. such a basic question, what is enough for me? love it. need to ask it on a regular basis. thanks for taking your time to share.

Posted by: marg at May 1, 2009 05:26 AM

Nice one, Andrea. For me there's no "enoughness", never. Only "cant do anymore todayness" or "collapse onto couch for a few hoursness"

xoxo

Posted by: Shelley Noble at May 1, 2009 01:21 AM

mmmmhmmmmm!!

Posted by: heather at April 30, 2009 10:21 PM

Thank you for such clarity here. A month ago I was on my knees crying and praying for how to help my overwhelmed 8 year old son. The answer was clear. Take 2 months off from everything I don't have to do, simplify everything I feel I need to continue by asking for help doing things I know how to do but take up time I need to spend being rather than doing, and focus on setting up our new home. I let go right away and my life and my family's shifted almost immediately. Since then I've discovered more I can do, or not do. Today(with help), I picked out 5 kinds of toys for my kids to play with(legos, books, play mobil, blocks & the simple building toys, and the train track) for the next 30 days. Then we'll switch out some or all. All the others went in to boxes. Other than those 5 kinds of toys, board games are accessible. Already there's more peace in the house.

By thinking of this process in terms of what is enough really helps. 5 kinds of toys is enough. I think I'll start looking at other aspects of my doing through that lens. Bed time routines, morning routines, writing schedule, time learning to play guitar. I was already doing this in a way, but not being consistent since I didn't set a "good enough" limit, but a goal to be achieved(goals are not bad, I just like this a lot better right now).

What's been interesting about the process of following the answer I believe came from that prayer is that I am healing spiritually and emotionally in ways that have been visible but just out of reach for years.

As always, thank you for your honesty, for sharing your journey and for seeking truth in what works.

Posted by: heidi at April 30, 2009 09:00 PM

YES.

to all of it.

thank you as always for saying out loud what I feel. I think you have super powers for reading my mind

Posted by: richele at April 30, 2009 08:43 PM

YES.

to all of it.

thank you as always for saying out loud what I feel. I think you have super powers for reading my mind

Posted by: richele at April 30, 2009 08:42 PM

These are perfect words.

It always helps to know you aren't swimming in a sea of alone.

Thank you.

Posted by: Amanda at April 30, 2009 08:23 PM

Holy crap. Thank you. Just took the words right out of my head.

Posted by: Jill at April 30, 2009 07:57 PM

Mahalo! Really.

Posted by: Serendipity Jen at April 30, 2009 07:35 PM

just so you know this post was more than "good enough"

Posted by: Denise at April 30, 2009 06:45 PM

just so you know, that post was way more than "good enough".

Posted by: Denise at April 30, 2009 06:44 PM

I know what you mean exactly. I'm like that, too. I'm a perfectionist and always striving to do better, and that better turns out to be such a high standard sometimes. Thank you once again for reminding me that I need to know when to stop.

I was just talking to a friend who was in tears after adopting a puppy that is taking over their lives. She is overwhelmed. Right after I talked to her, I open my reader and there you are. What a coincidence.

Just a like a puppy, life's twists and turns can overwhelm you. Though most of the time, we have no control over that, we can set boundaries to everything that's going on so we can say "Enough". And it is enough.

Posted by: Joy at April 30, 2009 05:28 PM

Yes! I do relate to this, and to your earlier post about shame/guilt. It seems so silly, to be so harsh on ourselves. Yet . . . I haven't found the cure yet.

Posted by: Lindsey at April 30, 2009 04:54 PM

Good enough is a noble goal. And, do not tell me that is an orange VW bus! It is fabulous!

Posted by: Puanani at April 30, 2009 04:48 PM

Thank you for this post- you are so right. I am neck-deep in overwhelm and so needed this sanity check. I have a habit of making way over-ambitious to do lists and ruminating on the undones. I create impossible goals and hold them over my own head. I am working to simplify my life to find more time for the good stuff too. Thanks for giving me this new perspective- it made my day feel a little less overwhelming and my hope for a relaxing weekend a little brighter. :)

Posted by: Allison at April 30, 2009 04:34 PM

thank you for those links!!! i've been pondering "enoughness" in my own ways recently - with what i knit, what i scrapbook, how i work, how i live my life in general. and hearing from you, and then having those links, to remind me that i can decide what is enough is very uplifting for today!

Posted by: robyn at April 30, 2009 04:23 PM

It's really important to recognize 'more than enough' too. We spend a lot of time and resources buying/storing stuff we don't even want or need. Not talking about Super Hero gear either.

If we can recognize when we have enough... suddenly a huge meadow of time, energy, resources opens up for us.

Posted by: wilsonian at April 30, 2009 04:17 PM

Woah. Is it possible for my whole world to have changed color and shape in the space of a few minutes reading a blog post?

Thank you for this, Andrea. From the bottom of my heart.

Posted by: Kjersten Hayes at April 30, 2009 04:16 PM

Andrea~ this really hit home for me as it did many others. It's funny, I awoke this morning feeling overwhelmed once again, like you said never feeling like enough was enough. Yes it is a rough way to live.

I have so much I could say about this subject and how I relate to what you said, but truly I guess it is enough just to say thank you!

Posted by: Lori at April 30, 2009 04:12 PM

oh goodness, you've done it again. posted an essay about just what i need to read right at the right moment.
xoxoxoxox

Posted by: jen downer at April 30, 2009 04:08 PM

i know that for me overwhelm has come because i don't set any
goals or tasks, i just sort of keep it all in my head and do it as i think of it. which is great in theory but seldom does mroe than leave me disappointed.

that often robs me of the joy of setting some intentions and taking steps to slowly and gently accomplish them.
most things get left dangling and lots of what gets down is simple what i call busy work or nasty a** stuff that keeps me preoccupied.

been looking at that habit in myself and taking small steps to move into an area of being organized and fluid in my days.

very great post andrea. your words always give me lots to ponder! :)

Posted by: melly at April 30, 2009 04:01 PM

Completely. As an overachiever AND a perfectionist I find myself in a constant flurry... my shoulders relaxed as I read this. *whew!*
I am slowly learning that in this age of over stimulation, I need to make some choices about what I spend my time on. I am beginning to be more careful about the things I say yes to.
Thanks for the reminder!

Posted by: Kacey at April 30, 2009 03:44 PM

I think many of us are taught that enough is not really enough.

I love the idea of deciding in advance what "enough" is. Maybe this can be an everyday ritual. Maybe with every new project you determine in advance how much progress each day is enough. And believe it.

I find I make long To-Do lists. Marking off completed items gives me a sense of satifaction that I completed what i set out to do.

I don't always make it through the list but it seems reaching a goal -- even a goal as trivial as "Today I will fold the laundry" -- makes me feel better.

Lots to think about!! Thanks for posting.

Posted by: Glad at April 30, 2009 03:37 PM

Yes! Am completely overwhelmed here today with the teeny tiny pieces of toys, plastic easter eggs, single socks, drawings, barbie shoes, you name it. I pick up each one and think--where do you live? I could literally never leave my house if I had to leave it neat. Sometimes I have to declare it enough. (Very hard for a perfectionist mom). Same with my freelancing and researching. Enough is a very important concept! Thanks Andrea.

PS. Following you on twitter and don't quite know my way around enough to respond -- but thank god you're safe! That must have been so scary! Hope everyone is going to be ok.

Posted by: simone at April 30, 2009 03:37 PM

I relate, too -- I am a chronic schedule-maker. But I have yet to figure out how to make a schedule I can live with. Mine are always too ambitious. Or I set them aside and stop looking at them. So I now need to focus on simplifying the plan, and then following through...

Posted by: Abigail at April 30, 2009 03:26 PM

I relate, too -- I am a chronic schedule-maker. But I have yet to figure out how to make a schedule I can live with. Mine are always too ambitious. Or I set them aside and stop looking at them. So I now need to focus on simplifying the plan, and then following through...

Posted by: Abigail at April 30, 2009 03:26 PM

I relate, to -- I am a chronic schedule-maker. But I have yet to figure out how to make a schedule I can live with. Mine are always too ambitious. Or I set them aside and stop looking at them. So I now need to focus on simplifying the plan, and then following through...

Posted by: Abigail at April 30, 2009 03:26 PM

It is amazing how timely this post is. Today has been a horrible day. I have felt so overwhelmed by all of the things that I juggle-- pregnancy, school full time, a creative life, the relationship with my husband. It was all rushing around in my head non-stop. I wrote in my journal that I need a schedule, something fun, flexible, but structured. So I can keep my wits.
This post has given me a lot to think of. Thank you.

Posted by: maggie ann. at April 30, 2009 03:13 PM

Dear Andrea,

I really needed to read this post today - thank you :)
I need to learn what is enough in so many parts of my life...

Posted by: amanda woodward at April 30, 2009 03:06 PM

I've recently come to the same conclusion regarding the blog. Twice a week, on a set day, then I can stop feeling bad for not doing it.

I think this is a profound lesson for freelancers/business owners in general (probably moms as well). It's so easy to feel like the work is never done and we should always be doing more (and with the laptop close at hand, so easy to dive back in). Good to set time to stop working as well.

Thanks for the perspective and voice of reason! Very glad the careening car stayed away from you:-)

Posted by: Tea at April 30, 2009 03:05 PM

I completely relate. It's so easy to get bogged down in all the things that I could or should be doing that I get overwhelmed and don't do anything.

Thanks for a reminder to spend time with my goals and refocus.

By the way, I'm pretty inspired by Chris Guillebeau, too ;)

Posted by: Jolie at April 30, 2009 03:02 PM

YESS!! I can really really relate to this. I also have been diving into Chris's website and work lately and have been so inspired and helped. Thanks for writing this, I also intend to make clear commitments and then just know that it is enough, that I am enough! You just crystalized this for me.
Thanks for posting.

Posted by: Jamila Tazewell at April 30, 2009 02:55 PM