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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

Why “Good Enough” Really Isn’t Enough in Your Career

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Eh, good enough.

That’s the go-to phrase when you don’t want to admit it’s not your best work—right? It’s usually pretty harmless, say, when you hang something up and it’s lopsided, or your brownies turn out lumpy, yet still tasty.

But what about when it comes to your career? “Good enough” carries another kind of weight when you use it in reference to your livelihood.

In his recent Medium article, Is “Good Enough” Really Good Enough for Your Life, Career, and Relationships?, author Darius Foroux argues that (spoiler) no, it’s not enough. And not because you raise the risk of losing your job, but because:

“You’re not doing it for them. You do things for yourself. For your personal development, and for the quality of your life.”

Consider that report you half-assed. Yes, maybe it’s good enough for your boss not to toss you out, but what part of yourself are you sacrificing for it to just be over and done with? This could have been a chance for you to hone your creativity, leadership skills, or confidence. Or, an opportunity to advance your role, standing, or responsibilities in the eyes of your manager.

Or, take it from another perspective. Think about a job offer you’re hesitant to take even though it’s technically “good enough.” You’re probably willing to take whatever you can get because job offers don’t come every day and you fear that your friends and family will judge you for turning down an opportunity.

But what do you—and only you—want? You probably want to find a job that makes you happy, a job that encourages you to to do work you’re proud of. If this offer doesn’t make you happy, doesn’t help you to create work you’d be proud of, that, my friend, means “good enough” isn’t enough for you.

Settling for “good enough” means giving up on yourself and your potential. It means saying “I’d rather stay here than go forward.” It has nothing to do with what others think and everything to do with how you see yourself today, tomorrow, and the next day.

Foroux quotes Apple designer Jonathan Ive, who said “If something is not good enough, stop doing it.” He then adds on to this idea and says, “If it’s not good enough, stop. Think about how you can do a good job. And then: Don’t stop again until you’ve done a great job.”

So what are you willing to start doing a great job on? That upcoming presentation? The coding class you’re taking on the weekends? Following your passion?

Ultimately, only you can decide.