Good Enough

The phrase “good enough” was playing through my mind recently as I was thinking about what happened this year in the garden and started planning for next spring. 

The weeds runneth over. No plants provided veggies, flowers, or fruit that did not get consumed by deer, rabbits, or other creatures before harvest. But I did enjoy the puttering around I did this season. It was good enough. And this reminds me of this quote by Thomas Fuller:

“A good garden may have some weeds.”

Thomas Fuller

I wonder if there are wider implications this could have for all areas of life.

Wider Implications

Are there things in your life that are good enough? Functional – but have a few things wrong with it?

  • Are you healthy and fit, but perhaps softer in spots that you would like? 
  • Maybe for all intents and purposes your house is organized and decluttered, but you do have that 1 drawer in each bathroom. 

Don’t trip over a dollar trying to get to a nickel. Enjoy that 80% of your world is fundamentally sound. Let the rest fall by the wayside or use them for a different lesson or purpose. For example, I repurpose cardboard trash to cover weeds, then top with rotting leaves from somewhere else in the garden. The end result is making the garden more beautiful. Today it isn’t beautiful, but it is good enough.

Can your mess be your message? Inviting a child to sort through the junk drawer with you can be a lesson in decluttering – why it is important and how to actually do it. Or the lesson might be about your relationship. They might see you as perfect so this exercise could be a revelation to them that you have random junk that you can’t decide on. What if you sharing an area of your life that is good enough opens doors to more authentic connections?

Sustainable You Questions

  1. What area of life or task feels like a drag for you? How could you define what “good enough” would be?
  2. What is your resistance to embracing the concept of “good enough?”
By |2022-12-13T19:31:18-05:00December 20th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Managing External Expectations

Fun fact – Internal and External Expectations was supposed to be one post. But it got really long and I could not figure out what exactly to say about managing external expectations by my deadline to get the weekly essay posted so here we are with Managing External Expectations, Part 2. Use this link to check out the first installment, Managing Internal Expectations.

Clearly I am talking to myself mostly as I try to figure this out. You are getting a front row seat to me trying to figure this out. It might not be pretty.

Giphy comes through again.

Sure I want to just not deal with people, but that is not practical or healthy. Healthy relationships are a component of the Mental Well-being dimension of Sustainable Productivity. Living with loneliness has a greater negative impact to health than living with air pollution, obesity, and excessive drinking (Holt-Lunstad, et al, 2010). 

So here we are needing to learn about managing expectations. The ideal way to do this is to talk about it before whatever the “it” is happens. 

But did you catch the first part? The IDEAL way. This is great when I am spiritually fit and able to communicate this way. The REAL way this happens is a little more chaotic and I usually end up having to clean up a mess after the fact. Yep, more of that Ideal and Real, but this time we are considering the other party that we are interacting with. As wonderful as my husband is, he is not Ideal. He is a quirky, faulted human being that I love dearly. And my kids have undeveloped frontal lobes – its not their fault either. 

That is a roundabout way to saying that shit gets messy sometimes at the homestead. Let me share a simple tool that is currently working for me when it comes to managing external expectations.

The Magic Words

Ok, not those magic words. But something that is working for me right now is to start a tough-for-me conversation with this phrase:

“The story I am telling myself…”

This lightens the tone and avoids any accusation. Here are a few examples:

  • “Here is the story I am telling myself about you handing me my Christmas present still in the Target bag: I am a last minute thought for you since you don’t care enough to wrap the gift – or even stick it in a gift bag.”
  • “Do you have a second for me to share the story I am telling myself about you not emptying the dishwasher? I tell myself that when you know I want it done and you don’t do it, you are disrespecting my authority as a parent and you don’t care about contributing to the house.”

In the context of this discussion about managing expectations, let’s be clear that in both of these situations, exactly zero expectations were shared. I did not tell Bixby that I would like my presents wrapped. He does not care about receiving his gifts wrapped and does not know how to wrap presents. And about that dishwasher – no teenager is looking for chores to do around the house or even thinking that the dishwasher might have a deeper meaning.

But having a common language of, “the story I am telling myself” allows for a Sustainably Productive conversation. It is productive because it does not start with accusations and “aways / never” statements. I am talking about the next layer – what it means to me. It is sustainable because I can continue it lifelong. I feel safe enough to do it over and over – it is based on a loving interaction.

I hope this offers you a tool to use in your relationships. Let me know either way if you try it or if you take a moment to answer the Sustainable You questions that follow.

Sustainable You Questions

  1. After an honest, authentic assessment, do you think you are managing external expectations well?
  2. What would it feel like to user the opener, “The story I am telling myself is…”?

I wonder if this essay would be a good opener for a discussion with your loved one about managing external expectations. If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know. I am ever grateful.

By |2022-12-06T09:12:16-05:00December 13th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Managing Expectations

Managing expectations is a topic I can’t stop thinking about or talking about since we recorded episode 41 of the Conscious Contact podcast a few weeks ago. I had a few more thoughts about it after recording that I wanted to share here. You can listen to the episode at this link.

The reason that managing expectations is so important is that unvoiced expectations are premeditated resentments. This leads to anger and all sorts of damage to relationships. Important in the Sustainable Sue framework – unvoiced expectations do not meet the criteria of Sustainable Productivity. 

Is this Productive – are you getting the result you want?

Is this Sustainable – can you maintain this lifelong if you choose?

Let’s look at managing expectations with ourselves and each other a little closer. 

Internal Expectations

These are the expectations we have of ourselves. This could appear in unlimited ways depending on where we are in life and how spiritually fit we are that day. Here is a sneak peek into some of my unrealistic internal expectations.

  • I can still play full court 5 on 5 basketball.
  • I should be able to “do it all”.
  • A good mother would have her children at the extended family Thanksgiving.
  • If I was a better project manager I could get people to complete their tasks on time.
  • The pants will fit.
  • Real authors would have finished the book proposal by now.
  • Adult women know how to put an outfit together / put on make up / do their hair (ponytails don’t count).

You can see my brain is a busy place. Not necessarily a friendly place. The origins of these expectations is a topic for another day because today we are talking about managing expectations. What to do when these internal expectations pop up. 

While I am not an expert by any stretch, I would like to share what sometimes works for me – it is a work in progress for sure. I call this real me vs ideal me.

Real Me vs. Ideal Me

Here is a simple tool that I use when I recognize an internal expectation is rearing its head.  I simply ask myself which Sue would this apply to – Real Me or Ideal Me. While it is good to have a self to strive for, when it becomes inflated into something that is unrealistic, it can become detrimental and toxic to your mental health. 

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Arthur Ashe

A way to consider this that is more Sustainably Productive is to make small adjustments to get where you want to be instead of expecting you to be there now. An example might provide some clarity here. Luckily we have a long list of unrealistic internal expectations already drafted. 

Ideal me would already have a completed book proposal. Welp, I don’t. If I just sit in this “failure” and grieve the missing book proposal that still gets approximately zero words down. That unrealistic internal expectation of being “ideal” is not working and is not sustainable. This is where I sat for about a decade. It is really sucky. 

Then I started to make small, sustainable adjustments to write these weekly messages, then started time blocking an hour each week to focus solely on book proposal writing. That is not always a pretty hour. Sometimes each word is hard earned. But the commitment is to dedicate the hour to that project. I don’t have to write, but I can’t do anything else. So I end up writing. 

This can apply to every component to Sustainable Productivity. 

  1. Ideal me would have a clutter free house. 
    • Adjustment: Real me spends 15 minutes every Saturday and Sunday morning sorting a purging something (a drawer, a shelf, a pile on the counter)
  2. Ideal me would stay off social media.
    • Adjustment: Real me sets a timer to read a book for 10 minutes, then to scroll social media for for 10 minutes. You get the best of both and maybe you start to shift the balance away from social media. Or not!

For me managing internal expectations comes easier than managing external expectations. It might be the fact I am an Upholder (see Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies Framework). But I don’t live the life of a hermit (yet) so I am learning to manage external expectations. 

I will share a little more about that next time in Part 2 of Managing Expectations!

By |2022-12-06T08:42:40-05:00December 6th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments
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