April 23, 2022

3 Words to Say to Yourself when You’re Obsessing about Making Something Perfect.


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A few years ago, I read Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Honestly, I didn’t connect with the book as much as I would have thought—apart from one line, or one idea.

I don’t know the exact quote. I tried googling recently but couldn’t find it, or maybe I saw it and I just don’t remember the exact words.

But I remember the general feeling, the impression it made on me.

The basic idea was this: sometimes, we just have to say, “It’s good enough.”

And these are three words I say to myself often:

It’s good enough.

I do this mostly with writing, as I am a perfectionist and can obsess over what I write and how I write—I want every word to count, to flow in the way that feels right to me, in the way that feels like it’s me.

I remember spending about two hours once a few years ago, trying to get one line to be just right.

In a way, it’s not a bad thing—that time flew. I love writing, and when I write, I want what I write to feel the way I want it to, to express what I have to say in the way that feels totally right to me.

I care about my writing because it comes from me—however, I also know what it’s like to get trapped in a “stuck” feeling because I’m too preoccupied with trying to get everything “perfect.”

Perfectionism can be quite limiting. It can even immobilize us before we even start.

This can happen in all parts of life.

Although I have always wanted to write, I spent a lot of my life not writing for many reasons—one of which was that I felt that if something wasn’t going to be worthy of being published, what was the point? If it wasn’t going to be perfect or article-worthy, what was the point of doing it at all?

But that’s a whole lot of pressure to put on ourselves, especially when we’re just starting out.

And especially with something that is artistic or creative, something that needs room to flourish and bloom—space to become. At least, this is how it feels to me.

So, I’ve learned throughout the years that there always comes a time when we simply have to say, “It’s good enough.”

Maybe it could be better. Maybe we didn’t say exactly what we wanted to say. Maybe we don’t feel totally content with it because it doesn’t flow in the way we usually like things to flow, but…maybe it’s okay. Maybe it’s good enough. Maybe it doesn’t have to be “perfect.”

Whatever perfect means.

Maybe there is no perfect.

Maybe it was what it needed to be.

And maybe we can say what we wanted to say in a better way at another time.

But maybe, just now, right now, for this moment, and this article, what we said is fine. It’s okay. It’s good enough.

For those of us who get trapped in the “perfectionist” cycle, it can help to say these words—and to deeply understand them.

At some point, whatever we’re working on has to be good enough.

It’s okay that not everything we do will be perfect. It’s okay for something to be “good enough.”

Maybe it’s the only way.

Maybe there is no perfect.

And maybe we can do it again, another time, in another way.

If we want. If it feels right to us.

We really limit ourselves, I think, if we’re always obsessing about something being perfect.

In a way, it’s a good thing—it means we care about whatever it is that we’re doing. It means something to us. It’s important. We’re putting a lot of ourselves into it.

But at the same time, it’s also true that we could probably spend an eternity trying to “perfect” it.

So maybe, sometimes, we just have to start, do the thing, and then know when it’s time to say, “It’s good enough.”


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