Monday, January 19, 2009

"Don’t Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good"

I found an article HERE, that frames something that I've been reflecting about in a different manner than I have been.

There is a quote by Voltaire: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Great advice. This has been shown true to me in my own life in the area of diet/nutrition (I've followed some weird diets in my day, and done some fasting, but when I "fall off the wagon", I do so with a resounding crash) and exercise (in the past, I've pushed too hard, hurt myself and quit, so now I just add intensity/distance slowly, which is much more effective).

I do have a tough time applying this approach to certain areas in my life (spiritual development, dealings with other people), and tend to be perfectionistic and very hard on myself (seeing shortcomings as absolute failures).

I learned 2 new terms from Gretchen Rubin's post: "satisficer" and "maximizer".

Satisficers are what I think of as "doers", and maximizers are "over-thinkers". It doesn't mean that satisficers don't weigh criteria when making a decision, but they have the concept of "good enough". Maximizers, on the other hand, suffer from serious analysis paralysis, because they have to be sure they're making the "best" decision. Not surprisingly, there are studies that seem to show that satisficers are happier than maximizers.

How about you? Are you a satisficer or a maximizer? Or (like most of us, I suspect) both? What areas in your life do you suffer from analysis paralysis and perfectionism?


  1. Mt dad always liked the saying, "Better is the Enemy of Good!" Now I know where he got it from!
    As a surgeon and artist, I learned the hard way early on when to say when :-)

    I like this one. "It takes two artists to do a painting. One to do it, and the other to tell them when to stop!"

  2. That is SOOO true. There's that part of some of us that wants to always be the best, and the other part that (hopefully) can jump in and say ENOUGH!