Perfect, Good, and the Valley of Suck

I posted this yesterday on Mastodon as a bit of wordplay:

"Perfect may be the enemy of the good, but together they can help defeat the bad if they can forge a truce and ally against their common foe."

At first I thought it was just a humorous phrase and a one-off, but the more I thought about it the more deep it became.

I read a few articles on Pocket recently that talked about changing our expectations about things that we don't want to do. The advice (roughly speaking) was acknowledging that whatever you are about to do or want to do will suck. Taxes? Going to suck. Replacing the ant traps in the attic / basement? Probably going to suck. Difficult conversation with a loved one? Let's just say Cedar Point is probably going to pass on that ride.

Many times when we are planning our day we want everything to be just right for doing our work. Nobody wants to be working in uncomfortable situations. But when the work itself is uncomfortable we'll be more likely to put it off and not do it.

We also tend to over-exaggerate the suck. Our mind creates hundreds of outcomes that it believes will happen that are far worse and more uncomfortable than what eventually does happen. That's one small bit of comfort you can use.

Waiting for perfect and expecting the worst outcome is a great way to make yourself not want to do anything difficult or challenging. Worse, you get the added benefit of guilt associated with your not-doing that thing. It creates a psychic backlog in your brain and intractable loop that makes thinking about anything else more difficult.

Best to embrace the suck and let good-enough for a result.

By saying "this will suck, but I'm going to do it anyway" you chip away at the power your brain has given this intractable problem. By saying "it only has to be good enough" you give yourself permission to give it your best and play it wherever it lies.

You create two powerful allies to defeat the bad, and make progress toward the better.