Good Enough is the New Perfect

by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple, authors of Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood

It took us a long time to accept that Good Enough isn’t the same as settling.

After all, avoiding mediocrity — and striving for perfection — had served us well for years. We aimed for the highest grades in school, the best internships in college, the quickest paths to our first promotions at work. Our default strategy was simple: If at first you don’t succeed (or even if you do), just work harder.

We’d developed this mindset as girls, dancing around our living rooms in Wonder Women Underoos, dreaming of a world in which girls could be anything they wanted to be.

Problem was, at some point all this girl power and go-get-‘em turned on us; you can do anything began to mean you must do everything.

As mothers, this mantra hit a fevered pitch as we stressed and struggled to Have It All — happiness, success and balance. It wasn’t enough to just work harder. Our lofty standards had become exhausting, unsatisfying and, if we’re really honest, unattainable. We had all these choices, but we were afraid to choose.

Turns out we’re not alone. The quest for perfection is our generation’s single greatest obstacle to juggling work and family — and, often, it keeps us from achieving the dreams that mean the most to us. That’s one of the biggest findings from the nationwide survey of working moms we conducted for Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood (Harlequin Nonfiction, Spring 2011).

In fact, the respondents who took a “good enough” approach at work and home were more likely to be satisfied with their choices, less likely to feel they’d sacrificed too much, and less likely to describe their marriages as a “disaster” or “not very good.” And — this is the best part — they’d given up surprisingly little professional ground to achieve this state of contentment. These women hadn’t settled for second best — they’d simply stopped beating themselves up and scrambling to meet other people’s definitions of success.

At some point, through the inspiring stories of women we interviewed and through the data that framed our book, we learned this important lesson ourselves. Good Enough Is the New Perfect is the manual we wish we’d had. Writing it taught us that Good Enough is not about settling — it’s about choosing. It’s about not being afraid to go after the things we really want and let go of everything else.

And that, for us, is perfect.

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