Wednesday’s Dose of Sunshine: A “Good Enough” Goal Is More Likely to Get You Moving

A few weeks ago, we profiled Leah Segedie and she highlighted the power of “good enough” goals.

If you recall, she lost 170 pounds by focusing on losing just 5 pounds. That smaller amount wasn’t so big that it overwhelmed her (keeping her from starting) and at the same time was big enough to feel like a major accomplishment when she got there. If she had focused on the ‘perfect’ goal of losing all 170 pounds, she would never have gotten started.

What’s Your Yardstick?

We all have, somewhere in the dark recesses of our minds, an ‘organizational yardstick’ against which we measure ourselves — and chances are good that it’s either related to ‘org porn’ or your mother’s definition of organized. Whatever the driver, the standard is probably not something you actively, consciously put there. Most of us don’t even realize we have one. But it is there, and until you realize it, you are at its mercy. Now, you can’t accomplish much without some definition of what you want to achieve. So, yardsticks are necessary; it’s just that if you beat yourself up when you try to live by a particular yardstick, that it’s a problem. The key is to find a yardstick that matches your lifestyle today. That’s where “good enough” goals come into play.

A Good Enough Goal

When it comes to getting yourself organized, whether it’s your calendar, your closet, or the dreaded mail pile – the hardest part is getting started. If you are measuring yourself against a “perfect” standard, you’re going to feel like a failure – and tend to believe that little voice in your head saying “I’ll never get this desk/closet/room/my calendar organized. I just suck at it, so why bother starting.” What you suck at isn’t getting that thing organized, but letting go of the feeling that you’re a failure unless you get that thing absolutely, perfectly organized like the experts (or your mom) would. But hey, so do 99% of us!

So, stop beating yourself up – or giving yourself an excuse not to take action. Instead, take a deep breath and outline what you really need to do (versus what you think you should do) for a problem area to cease being a problem. For example, I used to think that my desk had to be absolutely pristine in order for it to be classified as “organized.” Now, as long as once a month (every 2nd Thursday) I take 30 minutes to winnow the paper piles, it’s organized. That’s good enough for me. And the amazing thing is that having that “good enough” goal has enabled me to break my usual binge/purge approach to getting it organized and enabled me to keep a relatively clean work space for nearly a year now.

How about you? What things are you ‘failing’ to get or keep organized? Rather than feeling like a failure, depleted before you even start, what kind of good enough goal would enable you to tackle that issue head-on and work your way to a more organized state?