The Glorious Freedom Of ‘Good Enough’ + How To Find It

Want to experience the freedom of "good enough"? Let go of perfectionism and optimizing and upgrading everything? Click through and read more!

“I have extremely specific window treatment needs.”

As ridiculous as it sounds, this is a real, actual thought process I’ve had for the last three years.

I’ll spare you the boring specifics, but the windows in our master bedroom are strange. For the longest time, I was convinced that the only answer was $350 worth of custom-made roller blinds.

I set aside $350 for my custom-made window treatments. I measured the windows approximately 17 times. I visited the overpriced window treatment website 19 times and never pulled the trigger.

Every night I glared at the terrible dark brown curtains that came with the house and thought about how much better my life would be once I had my fancy roller blinds. Life is what happens on the other side of good window treatments!!!

And then, while poking around a thrift store on a random Tuesday, I stumbled upon a set of pretty, cream-colored curtains for $7. They matched the paint in our bedroom, they were thick enough to block out the light from the street, and they were $7. What did I have to lose?

I imagine you can see where this is going, reader. I took those $7 curtains home, I “hemmed” them with Stitch Witchery, and slung them on the very same curtain rods that had been home to the awful brown drapes I hated.

Was this the window treatment a professional interior designer would recommend? Probably not.

Was it the solution I’d been dreaming of for three years? No.

But it was exponentially better than what I’d been doing. And would the expensive, custom blinds have been $343 better than these second hand curtains? I don’t think so.

And my “good enough” solution meant that I now had hundreds of dollars to put towards other things. I could get that massage I needed. I could take my friend out for a nice birthday meal. I could get the exit row upgrade on my next flight.

All because I opted for a quite-good-but-not-totally-perfect option.

Saying “good enough” in one area of your life opens up time, energy, and money to be awesome in other areas. Not every aspect of your life has to be polished and remodeled and optimized to perfection. Click To TweetYou know what happens when we allow ourselves the “good enough” option? Life opens up. We can breathe again. Hundreds of hours and dollars are available to us because we kept using the two-year old iphone and decided we could paint the cabinets instead of remodeling the whole kitchen.

Most of us are exchanging time for money. We spend 40-60 hours a week working to earn the money that we spend during the other hours.  The median income in America is about $32,000 a year, or $15 an hour. The average American would have to exchange 22 hours of their life to buy those damn custom blinds I wanted.

That’s 22 hours of life that could be spent playing with our kids, throwing sticks for our dogs, re-reading our favorite books, walking along the river as the sun set, or just watching funny videos on Youtube.

That’s a lot of life we could be living and enjoying because we chose the ‘good enough’ option.

What if – instead of buying a new outfit for every wedding and holiday party – we just wore something we already owned with some different accessories?

What if we decided that the recipe would be fine if we used dried thyme instead of fresh and medium cheddar instead of extra sharp – because that’s what we have on hand?

What if – when the car gets a scuff on the back bumper and the mechanic says it’ll cost $350 to replace – we buy the $12 paint pen and shrug?

And what if – after we did all those things – we took the money and time and energy we saved saying “Good enough!” and spent it on things we were really excited about? (Because how excited can you really be about a perfectly painted bumper?)


Imagine how many hours of our lives we’d have back if we stopped trying to have the absolute best, newest, most updated everything?

Now, you are, of course, allowed to have nice things. Sometimes upgrading to the better blender, the nicer sports bra, the more supportive mattress truly will improve your life. I am not exaggerating when I say that my Roomba is an investment in the quality of my life.

But when we constantly spend time, money, and energy trying to make something that’s already an A into an A++ we burn ourselves out and make ourselves broke.

3 questions that can help you find “good enough”

How will things be different if I upgrade this?

If we’re talking about a Roomba, your life will be different because your floors and carpets will be effortlessly clean, you won’t argue with your partner about who’s going to vacuum, and you’ll stop quietly resenting your dog. (No, I will never stop shouting about my love for my Roomba!!!)

But not every purchase does this. Will your life be dramatically improved by replacing one working television with a different working television? By getting a Vitamix when you already have a Nutribullet? Will your lunches taste better when you eat them out of one of those hipstery metal bento boxes instead of tupperware?

Maybe! Maybe not. Everyone’s answer is different. But I think it’s important to take the time to actually ask ourselves this question.

How many hours would I have to work to pay for this?

Truly, one of the very few personal finance books I recommend is Your Money Or Your Life. The crux of the book is this: most of us exchange our time for money. The less money we spend, the more hours of our lives we have to spend the way we want.

So run the numbers. How many hours do you spend working each week? And how much time do you spend commuting? Divide your yearly take home pay by the amount of time you devote to work in a given year.

Is that new phone worth 10 hours of your life? Is the just-wearing-it-for-one-wedding outfit worth 15 hours? Maybe they are! But again, I think it’s an important question

Why am I buying this really?

Sometimes to answer is “Because I’m sick of vacuuming all the time” or “I spend $15 a week on hummus and this nice blender means I can make my own.”

But sometimes the answer is “Because I’m bored” or “Because all my friends are remodeling their kitchens” or “Because I’m the only person at the coffee shop who’s not using a Macbook.”

You might be surprised by what you discover when you’re really honest with yourself.

So if you’re looking for permission to allow some part of your life to be “good enough,” this is it. <3

I want to hear from you! Do you struggle with feeling like you need to improve and upgrade everything? What’s one area of your life you’re allowing to be “good enough”?

P.S. Everything is socially contagious (and what to do about it)

Photos by Junior Moran and rawpixel on Unsplash

15 Comments

VC Rankin

My dog needed knee surgery in August. After the surgery, you could tell she was really uncomfortable and could not find a good place to sleep. So I’m going to admit that I went out and spent $75 on a huge, fluffy dog. She absolutely loves it and spends 75% of her time sprawled and snoring.

In the mean time, my mattress wasn’t too comfortable. I thought about buying a new mattress and I went to dozens of stores, web-sites and every where trying to find a solution. Finally, I went to Kohl’s and bought one of those memory foam mattress covers on sale for $30. I flipped the mattress, put on the cover and I’ve slept great since then. It was definitely “good enough.”

I guess a great big dog bed is my “Roomba” because it makes me very happy to see my dog happy.

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Kristin

Yes! to this. I decided my “resolution” for 2019 is to embrace the freedom of imperfection! Sarah, it’s like you read my mind 🙂

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Tracey

I love this! I have totally found in my life that discerning ahead of time whether purchasing an item will truly change my life in amazing ways is always worth the time. For me it wasn’t a Roomba but a Dyson cordless vacuum that has been a miracle. Oh, and a new kitchen trash for all of $30 that a) didn’t suction the bag to the sides, making it really hard to get out and b) clipped the ends of the bag to the top so that it didn’t fall in, meaning I didn’t have to reach into gross kitchen garbage to pull the bag up. Life changing! But I’m fine with good enough for some hand-me-down valences for the bedroom in my new apartment as well as after debating the need to get “nice” storage containers for the boxes of photos I brought from my old house. Old cardboard diaper boxes are good enough! They are in a closet for goodness sakes!

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Sarah Von Bargen

Yes! And I’ve heard amazing things about that Dyson – I was literally discussing it with a group of women at lunch today!

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Aya Amurjuev

Sarah, I’ve been reading your blog for years and years and you consistently help me and improve my life. I have extra long heavy billowy curtains pooling in the bedroom of my new apartment right now and I’ve been stressing about taking them to get hemmed. Now I have learned about Stitch Witchery and my mind is BLOWN.

Awhile back I remember you posting a link to some Turkish bath mitt that does a good job of exfoliating dead skin and now I can’t remember the website. Do you think you might be able to post the link again please?

You’re amazing!!!!

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Sarah Von Bargen

I got the Baiden mitt (which is inexplicably $50?) but these are much cheaper and supposed to be almost as good!

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katie

I totally agree with the good enough option. Unless you buy 6 $50 versions, and you’re over halfway to the $350 version without the happiness. I’ve been debating a new purse for about a year. There’s one that I want, and I keep searching for a low price version, but haven’t found the right variation. So for now I just keep waiting. But I have decided that if next Christmas I still want the bag, I get to buy it. But not if I find a “good enough” bag in the meantime. And I don’t get to buy multiple “good enoughs”

Reply

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