How often have you said, “I’ve done a good enough job,” and moved on? If you’re like me, that’s the story of your life. It started when I was in school. I didn’t care about my grades. I just wanted to finish something and move on.
I always said, “no one cares about your grades.” And I believed that in “real life” no looks at your report cards from ages ago. And in fact, it’s true. Other than my parents, no one has ever looked at my grades — not from high school, and not from college.
That doesn’t mean no one looks at grades; some employers take grades very seriously. But there are not that many professions that require high grades.
If you want to get into certain law firms, sure, you need high grades, even to be considered. But I didn’t want to become a lawyer, accountant, or any other profession that requires high grades.
While I had nothing to prove to others, I forgot one person who I actually did everything for: Me.
You don’t go to school for other people. You don’t work for other people. But all we think about is external factors. We think about the schools we want to get into and the companies we want to work for.
We think about what we have to say to other people when the ask, “what do you do?” All of that is great, but it doesn’t matter. You don’t live for other people. You live for you. So why not do your best — for no other reason than yourself? Only that can bring you true peace and inner satisfaction, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. “
I didn’t get that concept for years. I don’t regret much in life, but here’s one thing I do regret: That I screwed around for many years. In school, I just wanted to pass my classes. If something was good enough, I would be satisfied. But “good enough” is the motto of an unsuccessful person. I know, because that used to be my motto.
I was like, “what’s the point?” Well, my friend, the point is YOU. I wish I realized this earlier.
What kind of things do you do that are just “good enough?”
- Your job?
- Your relationship?
- Your education?
- Your health?
- Your life?
Look, in modern civilization, we live together with other people. And often, people tell you what to do. Your school teacher, boss, mother, father, spouse, all probably have something to say to you. And sometimes, you don’t like that.
But here’s the thing: You’re not doing it for them. You do things for yourself. For your personal development and for the quality of your life.
But when you’re in the middle of it, you can’t see the point. We’ve all been there; you have a shitty job and you don’t do your best. Believe me, I’ve been there. But I was wrong.
What’s the point? You’re not helping anyone by putting in the minimum amount of effort — just to get a paycheck.
“I hate my boss and company. I’m just going to check in and out. Screw them.” I often hear from people who don’t like their job.
I also see a lot of jobless people who don’t want to work for free. They expect that other people will hand them a job. Here’s the truth. If you’re jobless for a long time, you’re not helping yourself either. So you might as well get up and work for free. At least you’re staying active. It’s a win-win situation.
How about a “good enough” relationship? Look, I’m not 16; life is not a romantic movie. You and your partner are not going to be in love forever with the same intensity and die at the same moment when you’re old, while you’re grabbing each other’s hand like in The Notebook.
But come on, how often do relationships die a quiet death? Sure, there are many reasons such a thing can happen. But one of the biggest reasons is a disease called “good enough.”
Giving your woman flowers without any special occasion? “Hmm, everything is good, I’d rather go home and watch an episode of Game of Thrones.” Lazy weirdo.
No more “good enough.”
- The report that you’re writing.
- The people that you’re leading.
- The product that you’re building.
- The book that you’re writing.
- The kids that you’re raising.
- The strategy that you’re creating.
- The test that you’re taking.
- The app that you’re building.
- The uncomfortable conversation that you’re having.
Do a great job—and don’t settle for “good enough.”
That’s a simple rule to live by. This is especially important right now. With all the uncertainty in the world because of the coronavirus and the economic downturn, doing great work is one of the few things you still control.
Now is not the time to watch the news all day and freak out every time they report something breaking. Now is also not the time to watch every single Netflix show. Stop screwing around and get to work—even if you don’t have a job. Improve yourself, help people in need, come up with new business ideas, you name it.
If there’s one thing we know about living a good life, it’s to focus on what you control. And doing a great job at anything you do is the best example of that.
This article first appeared on Medium.