When “good enough” is plenty

coffeegrounds

My favorite morning ritual is to go for a walk and get coffee and then walk home. There is something about starting my day this way that just helps. Since I work from home, my “walk for coffee” is a transitional element — it smooths that space between waking and working.

But: the coffee at the places within walking distance just doesn’t really do it for me. Oh, there are many. Major chains, smaller independent places. But something is lacking in the taste of the coffee. It’s either too strong or too weak or it’s not quite the right flavor. Blah!

A few months ago I became obsessed with finding coffee that I could love. I was tired of paying for coffee I wasn’t thrilled with. I convinced myself that if I had better-tasting coffee to start my day, the day would go better. Like, way better.

So I decided to try just making my coffee at home. I did lengthy searches, read copious reviews, and found some fancy new flavors. And I was able to create the coffee I wanted, for the most part. And I felt satisfied. Sort of.

But: the walk. It was missing! And my morning walk is huge for me. It jump-starts my day. It connects me with the creative impulse, with birds, with squirrels and trees. It gets my body moving.

So: I decided I’d make my coffee at home, and then take it with me on my walk.

But: this didn’t work either.

Because: I like going into a coffee place and having that simple interaction with people. There is something about going into a place, talking to people a bit — just a bit, not too much — holding the door, that simple exchange — staring at the bulletin boards, smelling the coffee smells — I like all that. It connects me with the world. I need it.

So, I sat with this coffee conundrum, marveling that this seemingly small thing — really good coffee — had started to take up so very much space in my daily life.

And, eventually, I realized this: the perfect coffee just didn’t really matter that much.

Yes, it would be nice to have the coffee of my dreams on a daily basis, but it was the entirety of the experience I truly needed — walk/coffee/nature/people — and not really the coffee itself. Coffee was only one piece of a bigger thing — my foundational morning ritual.

I also realized something else: In preoccupying myself with my search for the perfect coffee, I was less available — even if only slightly — to the parts of my life that are more important to me. To the parts of my life where, perhaps, I need to take more risks and dial up my commitment. Or simply experience more presence, more of the “enough” of the here and now.

And so, I decided to let it go.

And you know what? Since I let it go, I am totally fine with my coffee, wherever I get it.

Sure, I will probably stumble on amazing coffee somewhere I don’t usually go, that is not near where I live (like the coffee they served at the Indian restaurant that went out of business!), and I will wish I could replicate that taste somehow.

But while fulfilling my desire for the perfect coffee would be nice, it’s not essential.

When it comes down to it, I’m okay with coffee that is good enough.

***

The coffee example is a simple one, but I see a version of this a lot with my clients, who sometimes feel like they need to hit upon the perfect product, or class, or book, or coach (or, in some cases, life path!) in order to feel like they’re really on their way.

While it is important in certain cases to find a great fit, sometimes it’s okay for the fit to be “good enough.”

(If we’ve struggled with perfectionism, and its shady sister, procrastination, we may use a tendency to hold out for the “perfect fit” as a way of keeping ourselves from showing up in ways that scare us. Check out the categories on the right to find my previous posts on perfectionism. )

Pouring energy into these non-essential areas may seem like a small thing, but it’s actually a huge drain on our creative energy to search for perfect when we already have enough.

And even when we are dealing with an area that is truly essential, like a central relationship or the pursuit of our soul’s work, the “search for perfect” can serve as an exquisite distraction from what is already available to us.

Do you see areas like this in your life,  where you’re looking for perfect when “good enough” would suffice? I’d love to hear how you experience this.

Need some support in making your creative work a priority in your life? I’d love to help. Click here to see if we might be a good fit. 

Above image © Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Let Your Wisdom Come Through

I’ve noticed that when I’m getting close to some kind of major insight — some piece of wisdom about myself or my life that I very much need in order to move forward — I usually become resistant to receiving it. That is, I have a hard time allowing myself to be in “receptive” mode, where I can access the insight, and I crank up my activities.

My latest way of distracting myself is by playing Galaga. If you were also a kid in the ’80s, you might remember this was an Atari arcade game that came out around 1981. I’ve been playing it on my TV, for old timesake, remembering how much fun it was to shoot rows of insect-like creatures who rain fire on me.

It’s fine, and joyful, to play Galaga when I’m not using it to distract myself from something else. But lately I’ve noticed I’ve been intending to write in my journal around 9 p.m. or so, when I suddenly think to myself, I’ll just play Galaga for a few minutes and then I’ll write.

Only I end up playing Galaga for two hours, and then I’m very sleepy and the journaling doesn’t get done.

And the reason my journal has been calling to me — in that subtle, quiet voice it has — is because it’s time for some wisdom to come through. And the way that often happens for me is through journaling.

But I’m not letting it come through. I’m distracting myself, and not just with Galaga. And I’ve been feeling distanced from myself, agitated, even kinda hostile and angry with myself.

If history is any indicator, there’s a very good chance that when I actually sit down with my journal for a good amount of time and let whatever wants to come up come up, come out, move through me, I will feel a hell of a lot better. What I’ve learned is that the bigger the insight that’s ready to come up, the more I avoid being open to receiving it.

Why? Because it isn’t necessarily easy to sit still, to write, to be, and get in touch with whatever it is. There’s usually some scary stuff hanging around the insight, protecting it, and I need to chip away at that — or, even better, be very gentle with the scary stuff and let it know it’s okay to unclench itself from my newborn insight and deliver the insight into my arms.

Eventually, I know I will step away from the Galaga game and be with whatever it is that wants me to know it. And I also know, if history is any indicator, that it is better if I can do this sooner rather than later. Though I am aware, too, with deep certainty, that the wisdom that wants to come through always arrives at the perfect moment: when I am ready for it.

Do you find yourself avoiding opening up to your insights, getting quiet enough to hear them? What allows you to listen? I’d love to hear how this process works for you.

Just to get things flowing … monkeys!

My blog is going through some changes, as I’m refining my focus a bit. I’ll be back soon with a new blog name and a little bit of a shift in content (though good ol’ perfectionism and procrastination will still get their due).

For now, I’m thinking about what Martha Beck calls “the urge to merge.” It’s when you’re suddenly completely fixated on and obsessed with a thing, or a person, or an animal, or a piece of art. And the question to ask is, what is it about this thing (or person or whatever) that I love? Urges to merge usually come into play when we are undergoing a shift in our lives, from one place to another, one identity to another.

Objects of my recent urges-to-merge have been the documentary Grey Gardens (couldn’t stop watching it for months), the awesome mockumentary Summer Heights High (ditt0), and, right now, monkeys. Like this monkey. And this one. And here’s another one.

What is it about monkeys that has me so obsessed? I don’t really feel like thinking about it. But if I had to guess, I’d say it’s that they’re silly, they’re cute, they do bad things, they’re little athletes and dancers, and they’re just crazy. I’m not sure yet what this means for me, and it’s good not to analyze too much, but surely it means something.

I’d love to hear about your urges to merge.

Image is “Lucky Monkey Caught the Fly”
© Evgene Gitlits | Dreamstime.com