Lowering the Bar

This past Sunday evening, my friend hosted a little gathering at her house. It was a fall harvest party with chili and cornbread provided and everyone was asked to bring a side. I had the best laid plans to make a side from scratch – but life happened instead.

Justin worked long days last week so Friday night we laid low and enjoyed a slow evening at home with our little family. On Saturday, my parents came into town to spend time with LJ and watched him while Justin and I went to a friend’s 30th birthday dinner. Dinner and cake evolved into hanging out all evening with our friends and a spontaneous trip to play laser tag that had us coming back home at midnight, sweaty and exhausted (it was SO worth it though)! Then Sunday my parents joined us for church and lunch and after they left I spent the afternoon playing with LJ and ignoring my laundry during his nap time so I could cozy up with a book and recharge for the week ahead.

So instead of carving out time to prepare for and make a side from scratch, I spent my energy soaking up memories and restoring my body and mind. Instead of a homemade side, I took store-bought cookies, hummus and pretzels.

I showed up to the party with my tote full of Aldi purchases and made a self-deprecating joke about my abandoned “make something from scratch” plans. Everyone laughed because apparently, they all did the same thing! Every other person had also brought something from the store. We all had the intention to make something from scratch, and then we all ended up stopping by the store on the way to the party instead.

The point of this little story is that sometimes I think the best thing we can do for ourselves in simplifying life’s chaos is to lower the bar. We had a great time hanging out on Sunday night and no one thought twice about the fact that most of the food got picked up on the way to the party. It didn’t matter at all that the cookies were store-bought instead of homemade.

I’ve mentioned before that I am a huge fan of the “Happier” podcast and one phrase they often repeat is “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” This phrase has become a mantra for me ever since I first heard it. I only have so many hours in the day. I can spend them stressing about making everything perfect, or I can lower the bar. This doesn’t mean that I suddenly don’t have any standards and have stopped caring about things. It just means that I find ways to accept when something is good enough so I don’t spend further time and energy to make it 100% perfect.

I could have made a homemade side. I enjoy cooking and baking and often show up to a party with something I made from scratch. But a store-bought side serves the same purpose and is just as good of an option and in this instance, that was what I went with. I was so much happier and less stressed with choosing this option and no one cared that my contribution was store-bought.

If there is some area of your life where you find yourself stressed out over making perfect, I hope this encourages you to lower the bar. It is okay to want to do things well, but it’s also okay to loosen your expectations. It is okay to find satisfaction in the “good” option instead of the “perfect” one. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

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