But let’s be real — there are a lot of things in your life that simply don’t have to be done to the highest levels of excellence.

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I’m sure you’ve heard it. “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.”

Those words were penned by Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, in a letter to his son back in 1774. Fallen Navy Seal Shane Patton is quoted as saying “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards.” Even Yoda weighed in: “Do or do not. There is not try.”

Except it’s not true. At least, not all the time.

It could be perfectionism rearing its ugly head. It could be imposter syndrome, whispering in your ear that if your work is not perfect every time, you have no right to be where you are. It could simply be that you are learning something new and it takes a bit of a learning curve. It could be that you’ve set an overwhelming goal and don’t know where to start so you don’t. Or, it could just be life.

But let’s be real — there are a lot of things in your life that simply don’t have to be done to the highest levels of excellence.


My friend Julie DeMille was busy raising a large family and stopped stressing about perfectly matched socks. Instead, she adopted the sock motto: “If you can’t find a mate, find a friend.”

For us, not every dinner needs to be a homemade gourmet concoction. Spaghetti noodles, sauce from a jar, salad from a bag and bread from the grocery store works just fine. For my cousin who is a gourmet chef at a swanky resort, well, her meals are works of art. We have different goals.

I enjoy sewing for my kids and grandkids, but by no stretch am I a master seamstress. I don’t finish my seams, my corners aren’t always sharp and I’ve never really mastered zippers. Since I’m not willing to spend the time to become an expert, my choices are don’t do it or do it acceptably. I choose the latter and we’re generally all happy with the results.

One of the dumbest fashion trends ever, behind only bell bottoms and crocheted shorts for men, encourages people to pay good money for “less than perfect.” I mean really - who wants to buy clothes that already have holes in them?! I tell my kids buy jeans without holes and just wait. They roll their eyes at how out-of-touch Mom is.

We see “less than perfect” other places too. How about “shabby chic” for home décor? If the furniture isn’t old enough, then it is deliberately “distressed” to make it look old and beat up. That seems to happen naturally around our house, no added cost.


For fall break this year, we pulled 12-year old carpet out of a room in our house, patched walls and repainted. We need to replace doors that have been banged up by my son’s wheelchair, but instead of doing nothing while we wait to do the “right” thing, I painted those doors yesterday. For $5 worth of paint and an hour’s worth of time, I have two doors that look exponentially better. Are they perfect? No. But was it still worth doing? Absolutely!

I’m not saying don’t pursue excellence. I am saying not everything is equally weighted. Give yourself permission to do just an OK job on the things that don’t matter as much.

Remember this quote from Jenkin Lloyd Jones: “Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just like people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is just like an old time rail journey … delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

Enjoy your less-than-perfect ride. I know I’m trying to.

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Holly Richardson has many things she does to a “just OK” level and a few things she tries to do excellently and some things she’s afraid to try again because of how poorly they went the first time. Like making homemade pecan pie. What a runny disaster.