When Is Good, good enough?

I was an average student, had a moderately successful, albeit short, career in Human Resources, and I contributed ‘jack of all trades’ skills to our family business. Eventually I became a stay at home mom and a sidelines support to my husband. I am very proud of my roll as wife and mother and grateful for having had the privilege of raising our daughter. Investing time in a life rather than a career was a choice that did not come without sacrifices, but one that ultimately was not a hard decision.  Sometimes I  think about how different life might have been if I continued on with my career or if I had not encouraged my husband to sell our business and take early retirement during our daughter’s last years of high school. Those were sliding door moments that could have made a world of difference in our lives. But then, I look at my wonderfully average life and know that I made the right choices.

During my years as homemaker and mother, I developed a lot of hobbies and interests and  I think back on all the time, effort, passion and commitment I devoted to learning each new thing, just to become GOOD at it.

There was a desire, a need or a purpose behind everything I have ever achieved.  Those same things now contribute to a satisfying retirement life. Trial and error produced many successes and failures throughout my lifetime, and  I accept all of that as part of the learning process. Building a good life is not easy and it certainly is not instant.

I have not, and will never be great at any one thing, but I am happy with my level of accomplishment because I give 100% effort for the time I choose to invest in the things I care about.  When I take a look at the sum total of everything I do well, I feel satisfied, but also a bit AVERAGE. That word has a negative connotation in our ‘don’t settle for less than excellent’ society, but my contention is that a life filled with periods of excellence stitched together with average achievements can lead to a very rewarding life.

Good Enough 1

We live in a world where everyone thinks they are special, where seeking attention and vying for greatness with mediocre talents have become a national sport. Statistics show that only about 1% of people in any given field will ever achieve true greatness, which means the rest of us are destined to a pretty average life.


Contrary to popular belief, average is not a bad word. Many of you probably fall into the same category, whether you like to admit it or not. Not everyone can have a singular goal and be in constant pursuit of excellence to the point of greatness. To put things into perspective, consider how many hours Serena Williams had to play tennis to become great.  In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell states that it takes “10,000 hours of deliberate practice” to become an expert at anything.

We are not likely to devote 10,000 hours to any one thing during our lifetime, but, we can string enough average successes together to create a very satisfying life that is filled with excellent moments. Settling for good enough does not mean quitting, and average does not equate to being a slacker, committed to nothing, and going nowhere. Average means you are making an effort and moving forward. With a little self validation and a lot of gratitude, average can feel pretty wonderful.

I woke up today to an average day in my average life and it feels good!



9 thoughts on “When Is Good, good enough?

  1. Suzanne, I think there is potential in all of us to achieve what we set out to achieve. There are some incredible talented people out there, who have the drive and the means to achieve greatness. I am grateful for the great artists, athletes, scientists and all the hugely talented, clever and hard working people who contribute a lot to our world. I am also glad for all the average people out there who collectively have made the world a better place. Just by being a good person, a good wife, friend, a good mother. We are all plenty “good enough “.


  2. I blogged similar sentiments a couple of years ago and also used the term ordinary. (One of these days I need to make a list of all my blogs so I can find them more easily!) I recall jokingly using the statement “75% of people believe they are above average.” I also continue to struggle with the concept of “good enough”. I spent years trying to create/maintain professional mastery. I have no strong desire to “master” anything new at the moment… I’m having fun trying different things. I am working to believe that good enough is good enough!


  3. I agree with you that’s it’s ok to be average in many areas of life. If we always strive for perfection, we will find ourselves disappointed and unfulfilled most of the time. There are some areas that we may want to put in extra effort, but 10,000 hours? Yikes! Life is way to short (especially at this stage of our lives) for that.


  4. Hello Suzanne. I found your blog through a comment on Min’s Write of the Middle. I’m so glad I did. One example of being happy to be average in my life is my running. I enjoy running as a way to stay fit, to connect with others in a shared interest, and to collect fun shirts and medals. I will never win a race, and in fact, hate speed work. I am perfectly happy being an average runner, coming in at the middle of the pack.


    1. Hi Christie, tennis does that for me. I will never be great, but I love having achieved a level that allows me feel competitive, and stay fit. I think people, especially women, confuse average with surrender. As long as I am productive and moving forward, (with whatever I take on) being good enough feels good.


  5. Pingback: Sippin’ Lemonade on the Back Porch – August in Review | Picture Retirement

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