Getting to “Good ENOUGH”

Discovering YOUR Perfect Balance

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the Activation Series

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Lowering your standards

“Don’t think of ‘good enough’ as settling for something inferior or imperfect, think of it as striking a perfect balance.”  ~ Dylan Reeve

In the previous article, The Virtues of Lowering your Standards, I refuted the idea that any “job worth doing” was worth doing WELL.

As I said, “It’s always seemed to me that if the job’s worth doing at all, any forward progress is good forward progress.

I also made the point that any shade of completion beats chronic indecision andprocrastination– hands down!

While both of the above are certainly true, I also wanted to encourage you to embrace good enough for the tactical advantages that a more BALANCED approach to life offers – along with positive results for your struggles with activation.

In an interview from the blog good experience, the author of “The Paradox of Choice” insists that only on rare occasions is it worth struggling to find the best — that it makes life simpler if you settle with good enough.

“You don’t have to make an exhaustive search – just until you find something that meets your standards, which could be high.

But the only way to find the absolute best is to look at
ALL the possibilities.

And in that case you’ll either give up, or if you choose one, you’ll be nagged by the possibility that you may have found something better.” ~ author Barry Schwartz – Paradox of Choice

Be sure to check out the sidebar for how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

Keep-Calm-LowerExpectationsLowering expectations

Most of my clients have discovered that a great many of the items that have been getting sporadic A+ energy do just fine without that A+ level of attention – better, actually.

They notice that more consistent C- energy actually gets the job done “better” across the board — faster, with fewer struggles “making” themselves attend to things, with far less “efforting” in general and a life of ongoing accomplishment that is balanced.  (Wow. Kinda’ gives “just try harder” a black eye, doesn’t it?)

In the previous article, I explained why “shooting for a good C-” is a great idea for those of us who have a ton of undone to-dos on our lists.

Once you get used to the idea, I believe that you will find that aspiring to a “C-” job for a great many of the items on your to-do list greatly reduces rumination, performance pressure, and task anxiety.

  • It also makes it MUCH LESS likely that you’ll get stuck in dreaded hyperfocus, blowing the remainder of your to-do list out the window.
  • Many of you will notice that you spend less time hyperfocusing on your favorite avoidance activities too.
  • Spending less time handling most of your list leaves more time to do a GREAT job where it matters — to YOU.

So NOW all that’s left is figuring out which of the items on your to-do list those items might be . . . gulp.

Most of us have been swept along by shoulds for so long, we’re not really sure anymore WHAT really matters to us and what we’re doing for some other person who matters to us.  (NOT the same thing, by the way – check out Priorities-101 for more about that)

Easier said than done?

Let’s play a Game

Here’s one to help you get to good enough with a clearer understanding of YOUR priorities: play Least and Quickest with every single thing you do for one entire week.  Keep notes so you can review your Aha!s.

For every single part of each task, ask yourself the following two questions:

“What’s the least I can do to get this done?”
“What’s the quickest way I can get it off my plate?”

It works best if you enroll a partner to help you sift through your discoveries at the end of the week.  A comprehensively trained brain-based ADD Coach is ideal, but a peer coach or a non-judgmental friend works too.

IMPORTANT: Pick a positive-minded partner who has nothing to gain – or lose – by what you discover.  You both may believe you will be able to remain unbiased, but in 25 years I’ve never seen it happen.

NOT IMPORTANT: It’s not necessary for your partner to be willing to play too to be able to partner YOU — as long as they take the exercise seriously and are able to remain positive toward you and your efforts.

It’s not only more fun if you are both playing the game, most of my clients and students have remarked that “paired exercises” add depth and velocity to almost any process.

Plus, when another plays the game with you, you’ll both garner insights you are likely to miss if only one of you is playing.

You will, most likely, both be eager to “debrief” before the end of the week, too – maybe even daily.  Not only are you more likely to continue to play the game at all if you know you will be talking about it more frequently, you will probably find your enthusiasm for the process increases as you move through the week.

VERY IMPORTANT: Encouraging folk only! You’re better off working without a partner than asking someone you already know has a tendency to dismiss the efforts of others or to talk about them in a disparaging manner – even if you believe that they have always been positive about you.  You won’t play full-out, and you’ll be reluctant to be forthcoming and perfectly honest.

Least and Quickest Week

Rules of the Road Redux

  1. Every single waking hour of every single day for a solid week, ask yourself both Least and Quickest questions about every single thing you do — from the mundane to the sublime — unimportant and urgent alike.
  2. Note your reactions and what happens throughout the week.

If you are like most of my clients, you’ll not only get more done, you’ll begin to get clear on where you choose to focus your A+ energy and what needs to be dropped forevermore.

If you take the game seriously and ask yourself the question before ALL of the things you do during this week (well, most anyway – okay, more often than you think you will), your gut will balk when you hit one of those places where you simply cannot MAKE yourself make friends with doing something in a half-hearted manner (even for one measly week).

That’s a clue that you have discovered one of YOUR priorities.

  • Moms (and a few Dads) have tended to balk on doing less than their best on many of the activities that will impact their children’s education, for example, even obliquely.  All parents balk on issues that impact the health of their offspring (but seldom on issues that impact their OWN health.  Hmmmmmm)
  • Men frequently balk when it comes to making love to their partners and almost always balk on doing anything but their best in meetings with their bosses.  (Chores?  Not so much!)

No Way JosePay close attention to that feeling of “No way, Jose!” 

As long as you are relatively sure you are not being black and white about entire categories, honor your instincts — and write down the task on your A+ list.

If you want to get the most value out of the week, make sure you take the time to write down every single thing that falls in this category.

Make sure you aren’t mistaking ashouldfor something you legitimately CHOOSE to do very well, however.

  • Every time you inkle that you might be should-ing on yourself, write it on a shoulds list instead (or do both).
  • Put a question mark after it if you’re not sure.

Pay attention to those areas that are especially easy to sluff or shirk – or no-brainers to remove from your list altogether for Least and Quickest week.

Write them down as candidates for removal forever, even if you’re practically positive your loved ones or your boss (or your clients!) would have a fit about it. 

This is your list and YOUR feelings – for right now, don’t consider ANY obstacles.

You’ll probably discover that many of the things you need to do really AREN’T worth scrambling to do wellWrite down which items in your life fall into the “not worth much time and effort” category as you come to them.

It’s different for each of us but, for example:

  • Are you planning to eat off those floors?
    How clean do they really need to be?
  • Offering your lawn as the neighborhood putting green, perhaps?
    Unless you are, dialing back a bit on scrupulous lawn care might not be the worst thing you ever did.

You may ALSO discover that some things may not be worth doing at all.

  • You might find, for example, that you actually prefer a more relaxed look to those wonderfully cool summer linens, and easily decide that you will never iron them crisply again
  • You might find that YOU have never been the one who cares about the freshly-pressed look.  Shove that chore right off your plate entirely and onto the plate of the person you’ve been trying to please. (see Priorities-101 if you’d like some help with that)
  • Some of my clients learned that the person they thought they were pleasing couldn’t care less whether or not they did a particular task.  It turned out that they were much happier having more “quality time” with a less harried Beloved.

Shoulds can be Sneaky

vintageIroningClipIn debriefing Least and Quickest Week with me – in the early years of my coaching career – one of my clients told me that she was thinking about paring down the ironing.  She couldn’t believe how much time she gained in a single week by skipping this relatively unimportant task.

For one entire week, she didn’t allow herself to iron anything that didn’t absolutely NEED ironing. Before the week was up, according to what she had written down, she wasn’t even feeling those twinges of guilt she felt the first few times. In fact, she felt almost giddy with relief.

She discovered that most of the wrinkles she had been carefully pressing away smoothed out all by themselves, as long as she got the clothes out of the dryer and onto hangers quickly.

Her husband didn’t notice the difference. Since he’d always sent his work shirts to the cleaners, he had no idea that she HAD been ironing everything else, nor was he aware that she had stopped.

She surprised herself when she observed that she didn’t mind starting the day with a few wrinkles in her casual clothing either. After all, she mused aloud, they don’t look any worse than they do after an hour’s wear anyway – and nobody else will ever know any different.

Voila!  A savings of over an hour a week was returned to her time-bank.

But wait – there’s MORE

Since her husband didn’t even notice the wrinkles in his boxers during the week she played the game, she told me, she was wondering how it would be to stop ironing ALL of the underwear — forever.  Her things didn’t look as pretty in her dresser drawers, of course, but they looked exactly the same once she got them on.  What did I think?

My reaction?  “You are the only person I know who ever ironed ANY of the underwear!”

Bigtime News to Her!  She thought everybody did.

Since her newlywed days, she figured that “doing the ironing” meant ironing ALL of clothes but socks and the bulkiest winter sweaters — one of those black and white assumptions common here in Alphabet City that are amusing in retrospect.
(I still occasionally discover another one of mine — and I’ll bet you have yours, too).

Not only did her black and white assumption lead to a time-consuming misunderstanding, it was a HUGE toleration that had been eating away at her resolve for years.

Her reaction? We had been working together long enough for her to trust that I wasn’t judging her behavior – I’d shared an “oddity” or two of my own with her. After a second or two in shocked silence, she howled in delight.

To the best of my knowledge, she seldom ironed at all after that session!

In case you’re wondering, unless I need to press seams during the rare times I sew anymore (which I finally learned is essential for clothing even though it’s optional for other projects), I haven’t ironed ANYTHING for about twenty years now.

My wonderful friend Janine gifted me with an industrial grade steamer like they use in many dress shops.  But I only drag it out when something I dearly love can’t be worn unless I do. I don’t BUY things that are likely to wrinkle too badly to be worn as is, and I toss those that do unless I positively ADORE them.

How about you?

Do you still iron?  What other tasks that many consider important have you taken off your personal to-do list forever?  Anything you do ONLY when you can’t find any way around it?  What about something you have been persuaded to downgrade or dump after reading this article or the one before it?

Leave it in the comments section below.  Let’s pool our ideas.

IN ANY CASE – PLAY THE GAME THIS WEEK – and come back to share how it went and what you learned about yourself.


WHO KNOWS what you will discover!
(nothing, of course, unless you play along)

Keep reading to keep learning
and keep coming back – there’s more to come


© 2014, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”

No TIME to read all this stuff? Want more help?

man-on-phoneOnce my own life recovers from a protracted repair deficit situation where even the ability to use the systems I have put in place was taken from me, watch for the announcement of an upcoming 12-week TeleClass on Modular Success Systems.

It will help you sort through a great many of the “functional modules” so that you can design an action plan guaranteed to be easier than what most of you are currently attempting to work with.

Classes are a much cheaper alternative to hiring my personal coaching services (and the FIRST time I offer a new class is always your least expensive option by far!). As always, class size will be small to allow for personal attention, so don’t miss the announcement if you want to make sure you sign up before the first class fills.

If you already know that this is something you are going to want to be part of, let me know in a comment below and I’ll make sure you have advanced notice (don’t forget to fill in your name and email on the comment form or I won’t be able to contact you).

Meanwhile, keep reading as often as you can! Until my own life recovers, I won’t have the time to post as often as I have in the past, but there is A LOT already on the site.

Don’t waste this free resource – and I’d REALLY appreciate it if you would help me out by taking a few moments from your own life to spread the word about the blog and the upcoming TeleClass, OK?

To double the benefit, whenever you read a new article, make it a habit to pick at least one of the Related Content links to read at the same time (embedded in the text and duplicated in the Related Links at the bottom of every post).

If you’ll “like” or comment after the pages you’ve read, it will help you keep track and will point others to posts you find especially helpful (as well as helping ME to know what you want me to cover in upcoming articles and Series).

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Time & Task Management Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series (one-on-one couples or group), click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end (or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page). Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!). 

You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.

For links in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
— and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves —

Related articles right here on
(in case you missed the links above or below)

Articles in the ACTIVATION and Black & White Thinking Series

Linklists: Easier for me to keep updated for access from ALL related articles
– easy for YOU to jump to the article you want

Related Articles ’round the ‘net

LinkLists of other supports for this article – on

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update content and links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

34 Responses to Getting to “Good ENOUGH”

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  3. updownflight says:

    I have ALWAYS hated to iron. My husband used to have his work clothes washed and pressed at the drycleaners for loads of money, but many of my work clothes were ironed about 5 mins before I literally had to run out the door. That did cause a lot of stress, though.

    I’ve been home for years now dealing with bipolar episodes. I do get long periods of low motivation. I try to do the minimum that allows me some feeling of accomplishment, and a feeling that I am not overburdening my husband. I’m lucky that my husband doesn’t scrutinize my approach to chores. Some things are definitely not “perfect”, but superficially neat and tidy. Only on occasions do we really do nitty gritty cleaning. Plus, we hire someone to come in twice per month. We don’t have a lot of money for such extravagance, but enough. And it’s worth it!

    When I’m very depressed I have to resort to making the type of list you described in a previous post. It does help. I create a minimum “must do” list, and some optional “big bonus” items. It helps for me to be held accountable by sending my husband the list I personally came up with. He sends me “atta girls” and it is motivating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your husband sounds like a doll – love in action! I’m glad to read that you have housekeeping help too. I wish everybody struggling could afford one – it makes SUCH a difference to have regular help digging out.

      If I won the lottery, one of the first things I would do for myself is to find full-time help with the “chores” of life so that I never had to give cleaning, laundry, dishes, etc. so much as a thought and could spend all my time doing things I do well and relatively easily. I’d pay them as much as it took to keep them, too! (You should see my office – lol!)

      Bipolar is TOUGH — and only partly because once you swing very far to either side there’s not a lot you can do to right your neurochemistry with action of any type.

      The trick- as I’m sure you have discovered – is to do as much as you can to stay stable in “the middle” – with every tip and trick that works for you. And few people understand how very difficult that is to DO and how much work and constant attention to your own functioning that takes. I hear so many times that people with bipolar dx’s are almost afraid to feel happy, since they worry that they are tipping to the manic side. And if THEY don’t worry, their loved-ones do.

      Folks with “vanilla” brains can’t even imagine how it would change their experience of living to have to ride herd on exuberance. And NOBODY who hasn’t struggled with depression personally is able to understand the total debilitation of that state. They equate what they do to be able to push through a down day with struggling to even get out of bed – which you and I BOTH know is simply not the same thing at all!

      Even the advice here can sound simplistically simple – never my intention. It IS “simple” but that doesn’t make it easy!!

      I’m glad you came over to give it a read, and I hope some of the things that you find here will give you a bit of wind beneath wings that I’m sure are beyond tired many days. Take what works, tweak what doesn’t – and throw the rest in the garbage — AFTER you’ve figured out what’s “wrong” with it in your particular case. I get some of my best strategies that way, actually.

      Onward and upward! And thanks for leaving this great comment.


      • updownflight says:

        mgh, I will be crossing my fingers that you hit some lottery so you can afford full time help, or at least occasional like I have. Really we can’t afford it, but we make it a priority. The fact that my husband and I have never had children helps, but that is something no couple should be denied, if they really want them.

        I have bipolar type 1, and throughout my life my ups have been as frequent or even more frequent than my lows, but with the medications, somehow so many bipolar folks seem to be sub-threshold stable. It’s not an easy task to find absolute stable. Most of us with bipolar just do our best. It’s true that I sometimes have a fear of my mood elevations, as does my hubby.

        For people with bipolar 1, manias can be scary, especially if they are mixed. Have you ever heard of mixed episodes? In my opinion, they are the definite worst, and the reasons for 7 out of 10 of my past hospitalizations.

        I’ll look forward to reading more of your website!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the crossed fingers – I guess I need to buy a ticket first, huh? 🙂

          I agree that the mixed episodes are the most difficult for the most people – feeling like a kite tossed about in a strong wind shortly after the string breaks.

          I think “sub-threshold stable” is also tricky, mostly because you don’t get a lot of support to do what you need to DO to remain so. Too many people think it is “over and done” and NOW you can work on doing even more. PRESSURE! (That “See what you can do when you really try” hatefulness).

          I think the concept of “stable” needs to be reframed – it’s not a black and white state, and none of us would really like life much if it were. Human beings have perfectly normal ups and downs, for pete sakes, EVEN those who are diagnosed with mood disorders. Life is challenging and rewarding, tossed at us like a mixture of salt and pepper, and we can’t help but have feelings about that.

          (the link above – light grey – is to the intro article to the Black and White Thinking Series <===Linklist to all)

          Staying anywhere near the middle line, emotionally, is so much tougher for some than others, however – and deserves a LOT of credit for every second of "sub-threshold stable" they can achieve.


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  21. WOW!
    I say this all the time. the less you expect the lass you will be disappointed. My wife things it is negative but she is so wrong. I even came up with a chart to illustrate this in a blog post.

    Liked by 1 person

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  23. Jeanie says:

    Madelyn, what a great article! I had kind of forgotten about Least and Quickest, but what a timely reminder! I need to practice it for sure with all of the craziness in my life right now. You know how I love to do it ALL right! Although with Zoey crawling (and now starting to walk) around, those floors do need to be pretty clean!

    Wayne says, “Hi!” and my family and friends ask about you often.

    Here is the link to the sight we discussed. I will be interested in hearing your thoughts about it.

    Blessings, Jeanie

    Liked by 1 person

  24. bethbyrnes says:

    There’s a lot here Madelyn and I need to get caught up on your blog. So many distractions lately. But, I do think that those of us who are obsessive perfectionists torture our lives and others needlessly. Slow and steady progress is the order of the day. That comes from years of trying to be perfect and never achieving it. Small victories, meted out over the 24 hours, make for a more even glee-cymic balance, to coin a lame play on words. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. janetkwest says:

    I have a strange one, READING MAGAZINES. I bought it, so I should read it! Then I have a pile of unread magazines. I tossed them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh nooooooooo – I archive mine – YEARS of Christmas mags in particular (no “shoulds” re: reading – simply desire – and I DO reread all the Xmas & use the “science” ones as references).

      I toss the few “glamour” mags I buy, however – after ripping them to shreds to save images for my idea boards.

      When newer science comes out, I sometimes take a stack to a local coffee house and leave them for anyone else who wants them.

      But I DID toss quite a few of all types vs. packing them up to move them.


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