Stop Settling for “Good Enough”

“This is good enough”, you’ve probably thought to yourself before when completing a task.

The thought of something being “good enough” is okay to have from time to time, but when “good enough” becomes the norm is when the trouble begins.

Especially in today’s society when everyone has a million things on their to-do list, good enough becomes the easy way out. It is easier to get more things done throughout the day if you just complete each task up to the acceptable level and move onto the next one.

Good enough works when you are picking out which toothpaste to use or if you are cleaning up your room and pick enough stuff up off the floor in order to make it presentable. Leaving your room dirty for one more day or picking a less optimal toothpaste is not going to leave you with any regret. When you apply the idea of good enough to every one of your decisions is when you may miss out on something great.

My freshman year of college I was on an intramural football team with some friends and a few people that I had met in my dorm. I had always loved playing sports growing up and especially loved organized sports because of the competition factor. Freshman year would be the first time since I was about 6 that I didn’t play an organized sport with a coach that held practices, workout sessions, and games.

At the time I thought to myself “this is good enough”.

It wasn’t the organized sports that I had grown to love, but I was having fun with my friends so what was the harm in settling.

The problem was that in the back of my head I knew I would never be truly happy with good enough at the time and that there was one more option to improve on my situation.

So I decided to try to walk-on the football team at Ohio State.

This had always been a dream of mine, but sometimes we never act on our dreams because “good enough” gets the job done. I could have settled for just playing intramural football because that’s what everyone else did when they got to college. Something inside of me though knew I would always regret it if I didn’t at least give it a shot, if I gave up on good enough to chase something great.

So I changed my current workout schedule which was probably just 2–3 days in the gym, probably talking to my friends more than actually working out, and decided to get serious and focus on training for the walk-on tryout. At the time I thought I was super busy with going to class, doing homework, and making time for friends, but I realized the time I was spending on everything was me just deciding to be good enough.

I started to wake up at 6am and go run sprints on the indoor turf fields while everyone else was sleeping. I love sleeping in so this was a big sacrifice for me, but I knew being good enough was not going to cut it anymore. The couple months leading up to the try-out everything was focuses on maximizing what I could do in order to be my best come try-out time. There was no “good enough” for me during those months because I knew there were other people out there working hard and they were not settling for good enough either.

The day of the try-out had finally come and I woke up that day with an email from my dad that I still have saved in my inbox over 5 years later.

Just wanted to give you a little perspective. You know, in any project or task, there are two parts. A HARD WORK part & a FUN part. Always.
Think about it, you have already done the HARD WORK part. Now comes the FUN part. All those days you got up early & worked out 5 days a week for a whole year, that’s the HARD WORK part. You’ve already done that. That’s in the past.
Now is the FUN part. You get to show off a little & show everyone how hard you have been working. Trust me, you’ve worked harder & are in better shape than 95% of those guys.
Have fun, smile, be excited. Be relaxed, you run better when you are relaxed.
Now is the fun payoff for all the hard work. Piece of cake.

I actually haven’t read that email in forever and forgot it existed until I started writing this. He makes a good point in the email that there is a hard work part and a fun part to any project or task.

Sometimes the fun part might come right away and that is when people often settle for good enough. As I mentioned for the example earlier, if you put away all the clothes laying on the floor in your room you instantly have more room for activities and that’s the fun part.

When I woke up at 6am to go run those sprints for a try-out a few months down the road that would only last about an hour there was no instant fun part. There was just me being tired physically and emotionally at about 7am wondering why I just got up so early to workout with no instant payoff.

But I knew that in a few months there would be a once in a lifetime opportunity that would be the ultimate “fun part”.

I did end up making the team that year as a walk-on. I was incredibly proud of myself for putting in the time and the effort and focusing on the big picture when things got tough. I knew that I would always regret not trying to walk-on and had zero expectations other than working towards something great instead of settling for good enough.

There are probably many of you out there with big dreams. Some may not be quite as big as walking on a football team or some may be even bigger. At the time I thought the goal of walking on the football team was so out of reach, but I knew I would look back and kick myself if I didn’t at least try.

So the next time you are making a big decision, beyond picking out which toothpaste to use at the store, think to yourself, “Am I just settling for good enough?”