dr. evil quotation marks - Leave "well enough" Alone!!!

Have you ever heard this or even better had it aimed directly at or to you?

  • “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!” (“For crying out loud” can be added either prior to or after for more emphasis.)
  • “I’ve taken all I can TAKE!!! BACK OFF, will ya?!!!”
  • “What is it about NO that YOU don’t understand?!!!”
  • “If I’ve said it ONCE I’ve said it TWICE….”
  • “What, are you NOT LISTENING or just PLAIN STUPID?!!!”

Was it said in a way (or a tone of voice) that you knew— you just took a conversation one step beyond what someone could tolerate? I wish with all my heart I could say I haven’t done it. Alas, I’ve been unwise and lacked the sense to know that I needed to just leave “well enough” alone. I am a driven person. My theory is I’ve pushed people to this response because I didn’t know what was “well…enough”.

Some of us are just born restless and that’s not a bad thing. I never thought much about what really is “enough” in my life. Then I got knocked around in life a few times. I spent a great portion of my younger years, just not quite satisfied. The future had to hold exactly what I was looking for…its out there somewhere…not here in the moment. The truth of life is that you often can get kicked around, you can have success, and if you are lucky you learn. My wife has had a couple of trips down breast cancer lane. She is so grounded on what’s enough that it humbles me. Life experiences can bring lots of perspective!

I know I can be a slow learner, but I’m focused on being satisfied more than ever in my life. Not slowing down or quitting everything and just loafing. I’m thinking about what I want and what I have in the right ways. I am putting things into a context of being satisfied first with what I have. In doing so, it has brought to me a sense of freedom that just focusing on my future could never deliver. I’ve settled into the here and now.

We are raised in a culture in the US, for the most part, that tells us “leaving well enough alone” is not an option. We are measured by things at work, in church, or among our families not on what we have accomplished or are accomplishing, but by what we have NOT accomplished. Come on, give me your last ounce! Having enough and satisfied, heck that’s for the weak and unmotivated! A sense of completion or celebration of accomplishments is replaced by constant feelings of dissatisfaction and always thinking about “what’s next”.

These insatiable feelings are fueled by many things in our lives. Below are just a few examples that may hit home.

  • WORK – Annual goals that are set in our business, careers, or at work by a process of “continuous improvement“…always arriving and never arrived. Arrival, if truly defined, is usually the next stop on the career path or job progression. Sooner or later that career ladder runs out of rungs for everyone. HR departments don’t realize the harm they may do to the humanity within an organization when you focus on process rather than success with people. Focus on success defined by YOU!
  • KEEPING UP – Seeking a standard of living more aligned with your “false infinity” rather than a strong sense of values, concrete life goals, and a clear purpose. We ARE finite, we all have limitations and circumstances that need to be dealt with in context with our values and vision for our lives. All in our own context and not compared to others.
  • PROVING SOMETHING – This is the proverbial “chip on the shoulder“. It can become a “block” for some. The— “I’ll show you and prove you wrong approach” —can be a powerful motivation and take us far into what seems like success. Only to find out we never really “killed” the question…”Am I good enough?”…with an answer.

It’s not that dreams are not important and we shouldn’t aspire to accomplish great things. The problem is that when we focus on things like the those listed above we actually lose our power to accomplish greater things. And they aren’t goals. When we define what “well enough” really is…then we CAN leave “well enough” alone. This makes us powerful and effective leaders who work our will regardless of position or wealth. We stop chasing and we start leading.

When we overlook (literally look beyond) what we have and avoid making decisions about what’s enough we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment. We push people rather than guiding. We then try to overcome discontent by making decisions that jeopardize our long term happiness or success. We can start by looking for where we can “leave well enough alone”. In short, don’t mess with what’s working and begin thinking where we have enough already. Stop the cycle of just getting the next thing or striving for that next goal. Below are some tips just to move yourself closer to being satisfied. There is no magic to these.

  • Stop. Take time to be with yourself and slow down. Even 5 minutes at the beginning of a day can change the trajectory of a life and help you remember to start a crock pot dinner before you leave. Quiet time often reveals how far we are living away from ourselves and others.
  • Do a budget. Yeah, its only right once and that’s when you do it, but it will help you make a host of grounded decisions on how hard you need to work or what you will spend.
  • Focus. Plan, make lists, and then prioritize into calendar. Complete one thing and then move onto the next. Get a sense of what it feels like to be satisfied and complete. Knowing what a commitment is and means, plus keeping them will go a long way.
  • Be Present. It only makes sense to be more “present” with people.Focus on conversations while and when you are having them. It’s enough to just be there “in the moment”. We often can feel like we are needing to move on, rushed, impatient. Be with people and realize that there is more than enough time in the present moment.

This post is about giving you permission to take stock in what is “enough”. You can then more freely strive for more—where more is needed. It is important to aspire and set goals. First, you have to pass your own test on what is “well….enough.” And leave everything else alone.