in Journal

Something Better

There comes a point where we need to decide that something is "good enough". But settling for good enough is a dead end. Good enough is always one step behind, one step in the shadow of something better.

Every artist learns when to settle, but the best of the best learn to treat each piece of work not as something to finish, but as a stepping stone towards something better -- as a step towards a higher vantage point where a greater perspective enhances creativity.

Instead of settling for good enough, climb towards something better.

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  1. I plain just like that. It reminds of how as a musician I have gone from just singing John Denver songs as a teenager to pass the time to learning to play a Native American flute and now I have been combining both of my loves as a street musician when I was and will return to Santa Cruz CA. But now I’m in the process of becoming a indie music producer/musician. I’m doing for my first project “A Tribute To John Denver. Crazy if you would had ask me this when I was a kid loving just to sing song i heard and like I would never have believed that this might even be possible.

    The Journey continues.

    Have a wonderful day Raam.

    • Gary, I can relate with so much of your story. There are so many points in my life where it was impossible to see how I was going to get from there to where I am today and yet in retrospect, it all makes perfect sense. 🙂

    • How magical! As Joseph Campbell urged us all to do, you followed your bliss – your love of music – and look at the doors you’ve opened because you believe in yourself. You are an inspiration Gary!

      • Hi Honour I hate to burst such a beautiful compliment but the reality was I didn’t really believe in myself. What I did have was simply a love of music and nothing else that I was good enough at doing that I like.

        The other things is that doors haven’t opened up. But I have discovered one or two things over the years. Finding that I was allowed to perform on the street in Santa Cruz CA enabled me to play music for people and occasionally get some money in the tin. At that time I was playing Irish folk music on a soprano recorder treating it like it was an Irish tin whistle. I had been playing these tunes since I was about 17 years old. then in the summer 2008 I got my Native American flute. It took me another year before I had devised and tried out a few John Denver tunes I had loved as a kid or teenager. Well those are not doors.

        But thanks for the compliment anyway and I am glad you find inspiration where I see none.

        • The real you is your self expression; which is your music; which you believe in; therefore you believe in your self. Does that make sense Gary?

          Maybe I should have said pathways instead of doors ? :]

          Either way Gary, you are doing what you love, and surviving. Very few people get to do that. You set a fine example.

          Best wishes for your John Denver Tribute! Will you be selling it online?

          • Hi Honour. I do plan to sell it online. I’m still figuring out the best way for me to do so. Plus I have to take it slowly as I need to have it mastered for me and I’m sure a few other things will have to be outsourced. Plus I’m likely to release a song or two at a time until I have the ten songs i wish to sell under this album title.

            I would naturally appreciate any sharing with like minded souls as you might know. You might be interested in hearing and seeing my flute playing I have a youtube channel called “The Music of the Soul”. I plan on putting one of the song in the upcoming album on it as a demo level video. So hope you enjoy the music that is already on it and the one called “Eclipse” that will be up there hopefully before Wednesday.

            Since you are interested, what is the best for me to let you know when I have it ready?

          • Hi Gary
            Thanks for the info, I’ll subscribe to your You Tube videos; will you be keeping subscribers updated with what you are doing? Otherwise, maybe Raam could send you my email?
            Are you considering putting a blog together? You’d be able to monetise it so you can sell your music.
            I’ve recently done a blogging bootcamp, and finally overcome my huge technophobic block! I’d had a lot of trouble with hosting my own blog, and in the end I gave up and looked for free blog sites. I came across Weebly.com, and it’s really empowered me, because it’s very simple, you just drag and drop the elements you need to build your site. You can upgrade to professional very cheaply if you want too.
            Good luck with it!

          • If I’m not mistaken you would be my first subscriber. As such I would be more than happy to keep subscribers updated.

            While I’m not technophobic. I don’t seem to have much luck. Bluehost is pretty good. but I still need to learn a lot more begore I would be able to do it myself. My current blog is workable but I’m not sure how I will combine my disability activism with my music.

            Oh one more small detail my channel is “Music of the Soul” not “The Music of the Soul” as I stated in the last comment. I had to actually look at what I had named it. hehehe

            I have a question does Weebly allow you to have your own domain name. I already have one at this point.

            All the best Honour.

          • Hi Gary,
            I Googled “Music of the Soul” and got a whole heap of references, but can’t find your site. Can you post your URL here for me Gary?
            You can transfer your domain to Weebly. I’d suggest that you check out their free website and have a go at setting up a site, to see if you like it or not. I LOVE it! It’s so easy to work with. You can go pro if you want at any time.
            All the best
            Honour

          • Sorry Honour for the confusion. Music of the Soul is my Youtube channel. my url for my current website is http://www.theworldneedsmeto.com.

            Now that you mention it I might have to two website. Ikkess!!!. One for my disability acitvism(the world Needs Me To) and one for my music Which woud hopefully be Music of the Soul.

            I hope that clear up the confusion also you might when in youtube search GaryJordon. That is my user name there.

          • Hi Gary, I checked out your name on You Tube, and found your videos, and I’ve subscribed to your Soft, sweet, Soul Music. I really admire your abilities, and your courage. Given the challenges you’ve faced in your life, you have accomplished so much.
            We have the love of nature in common too Gary. I don’t fit anywhere in this society either, which suits me fine now that I’ve accepted the ostracism that comes from being different in how I think, and in my values. It gives me the time to write and think.

  2. I appreciate how you’ve reframed the idea of settling. The word settle has always rubbed me the wrong way, but when I think of it “as a stepping stone towards something better” I’m suddenly freed up.

    Beautiful piece.

    • Thank you, Sandi!

      I’m a perfectionist at heart, so settling is something I’ve always struggled with. Striving for perfection is good, but unless we accept that growth comes from experience and experience comes from moving forward, we can strive for perfection all we want and really get nowhere.

      I see settling as simply a step towards something better. The important thing is to learn how to recognize when it’s time to settle and move to the next thing. If we settle too quickly, we’ll be doing ourselves a disservice. If we settle too late, we’ll get stuck in ruts that get us nowhere.

      Balance, as always, is key. 🙂

  3. I like very much what you had to say today because it encourages us to strive to do better without discouraging us by demanding perfection right now. Thanks.

    • Hi Nancy,

      I think we should strive for perfection, but not to the point of discouragement. Perfection itself isn’t attainable, but the act of striving for it pushes us to new heights.

  4. I am settling and unable to move forward and finding my self locked and unable to move forward…help what can I do?

    • Hi Gina,

      Whenever I feel locked and unable to move forward, I take a step back from myself and visualize how tiny I am in comparison to the entire planet and the billions of other people living right now. Then I go out to the edge of the solar system, and then the galaxy with its billions of stars. Then even a step further to our local cluster of galaxies… trillions and trillions of stars and planets.

      My problems dissipate rather quickly!

      We all hold the key to unlock and free ourselves. We just need to decide that doing so is the most important thing in our lives. Time always moves forward. It won’t wait for us, no matter how much we want it to.

    • Hi Gina,
      Maybe it’s simply that you need time out to rest; or maybe it’s stopping you from going in a wrong direction; or maybe you need to stop and take stock of where you are, how you got there, and where you are headed. Do you know where you are headed, do you have a love of something that you are pursuing? Where are you in relation to your dreams?
      Journaling might help; it’s amazing how you can find your own answers when you write things out, especially if you write first thing in the morning, before you’re fully awake.
      Be kind and gentle to yourself. :]

    • Hi Gina Maybe there is nothing you can do. It might be that you may have to wait to see what it is you need.

      Take my music for example. I have always loved to play music. The problem I couldn’t figure out a way to make music a bigger part of my life than a solo hobby. I looked at Antelope Valley College’s career center and found descriptions of all the job and careers that than existed in the music industry.

      Basically I had three really big problems. One I wasn’t interested in what was the type(s) of music being promoted. Two my odds of being noticed were very slim because of my musical tastes, the location I needed to sty for my mothers’ sake and I’m legally blind and a bit frail looking for a man. None of these things made the odds very good. Three I was a cut throat-stab you in the back type of person. I can get angry and mean but I don’t have the personality to be one of those kind of guys. BTW I was also looking at commercial music.

      Now some twenty years later I have just discovered that is is possible to create my own music or become an established cover artist using whatever instrument I wanted and that I can learn to produce, market, and promote it largely on an independent basis.

      My point is that the passion might be there but not the means or the environment to see what is possible. Hopefully you won’t have to wait 20-30 years to see your dreams come true but It will be well worth the wait.

      • Wow, Gary, You chose the narrow and hard path, rather than sell your soul to the status quo. You are even more of an inspiration!
        Much happiness to you.

    • I agree, mom! Climbing is important, but taking a break to enjoy and appreciate the view is important too. We just need to make sure that we don’t stop so long that we get lazy! 🙂

  5. Hi Raam,
    Your posts are always thought-provoking!
    In the context of our own self expression and creativity, accepting “good enough” releases us to take the next step on our path, while all the time striving for “better”, or “more than”. In my own experience, trying to reach a non-existent “perfect” paralysed my creativity with a subconscious fear for half of my life, preventing me from moving beyond where I was: stuck fast in fear of not getting it right! Most of the time I didn’t even get started on creating my inspirations because of that fear.
    Then I finally learned to draw a line – to set a boundary – between my conditioned false standards of perfectionism and my own standards. By setting my own standards, and conceding that my efforts were good enough, and that I was good enough too, I broke free from the tyranny of perfectionism, and haven’t looked back since.
    :]

    • Hi Honour!

      Those are powerful words! I’m still struggling with accepting good enough… that fear of producing work that isn’t “perfect” always seems to linger in the background, haunting me.

      I absolutely love what you said about setting your own standards, creating a bar by which we accept that something is good enough. Now that I think about it that way, I realize my standards are “perfectionism”, which explains why I still struggle with finding my good enough! 🙂

      • Hi Raam,

        Perfectionism goes right to the core of our conformed identity and self-worth (our sense of self), which is why it is so hard to overcome.

        I’ve been decorating my home with creative recycling for 15 years now. This is how I learned that there’s no such thing as “perfect”; and that settling for “good enough for now” takes some of the pressure off to conform to accepted ways and standards (something I need to keep reminding myself of constantly though).

        The old “have to get it perfect first time, with no room for error” is a very deep conditioning that really cripples our creativity. I learnt this several years ago; I had made some shelves and a little alcove for the phone out of a hotchpotch of old recycled materials, but was procrastinating with decorating them. Then an artist friend came over for a visit, and while his wife and I were chatting, Dave secretly mixed up half a bucket of casting plaster with kitchen paper in it (Dave had previously told me about this new plastering technique, and I’d been excited by its possibilities, but I’d never used it before). Dave put the bucket in front of me and said “here you are”; I said “what’s that for?” and he said “to decorate your shelves”. Confronted with a bucket of plaster, I went into a panic; but it was setting fast, so I plastered it onto the shelves with my bare hands just as fast as I could to use it all up.

        After I’d finished off the shelves a few days later, I realized that Dave had forced me through that “I’ve got to get it right first time” perfectionist’s fear that was causing my procrastination.

        We are all conditioned to fear making mistakes, because in this society mistakes equate with failure, and being “wrong” or “bad” or “stupid”. But of course, mistakes are how we learn to get it right. And getting it right (for our selves) is perfect.

        What I learned through all my mistakes, every step of the way, was to keep going with each project until it felt that I’d got it right, according to my own aesthetic sense.

        When I get to that feeling, the project IS perfect, in spite of all the imperfections that it took to get it to that point (that no one but me knows are there!).

        When we express our unique selves, there can be no comparison, no conforming standard to live up to.

        The magical thing that has happened for me as a result of my unique self’s expression through my decor, is that my true self is reflected back to me everywhere I look. In that way, I’ve come to truly know who I am: not perfect; but a unique individual.

        I have created my own Standard literally : a seven foot tall mythical standard bearer called the Death Master, carrying a circular banner representing the Unified Field.

        I’ve been procrastinating with making a second Standard though, of Kali, the Hindu Goddess, with her necklace of skulls, representing her mentors’ wisdom. I’ve made up a skull necklace out of 12 of my deceased cats’ skulls, glued onto a string of pearls, but I’ve been grappling with how to do her head. I’ve made her shoulders out of wombat thigh bones.

        I must get back to it and finish her. She will be about seven foot tall too.

        And of course, she’ll be sacred to the memory of my long-gone loved little fur-friends. Hope that’s not too scary for you! ]:]

        • I loved that story, Honour! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

          You’ve helped me see the subtle difference between perfectionism from an art perspective and perfectionism from a logical, science-based perspective.

          I consider myself an artist, but I’m also very logical and science-based at heart. Perfectionism for me isn’t so much about creating something that is perfect, but rather reaching that edge where science and logic have done everything they can.

          As a scientist, I feel the constant need to stay and search for the edge of everything, but as an artist, I feel the need to constantly create and move forward. What a dichotomy! 🙂

  6. I used to struggle with perfectionism…until I realized that I was missing out on so many life experiences when I could have settled for “good enough.”

    I’d rather “good enough” 1 million experiences than chase 1 “perfect.”

    Also, I experience a “screw it” moment often, and that’s when I break through and wind up doing it anyway–like when I went surfing.
    Frustrated beyond belief because I couldn’t even STAND UP, I said, “Screw it” and tried again anyway, and I succeeded then!

    • Those “screw it” moments are great! That’s often what I resort to when I’m on the edge and I need to make a decision. I usually boil it down to asking the question: Which one will result in more growth and teach me something that I might be able to use in the future?

  7. Just like the painter who ‘finishes’ her painting … the painting is never complete; it just so happens that’s when the painter laid down her brush. Seeking perfection, like I say, oftentimes results in self-destruction.

    • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with seeking perfection, but rather we shouldn’t settle for perfection (as it’s unattainable, we would essentially be never settling). I think we can use the pursuit of perfection to our advantage, to help drive us to push past boundaries. Balancing the pursuit of perfection with a healthy dose of realism makes us unstoppable.

      • Hey Raam, I liked what you and Anonymous said about perfection. I think that anyone seeking perfection entirely from their own strength will be met with feelings of delusion. But when we lay down our own understanding of what perfection really is and seek help from our creator and others, we begin to see that we can attain perfection. Perfection is being who we were created to be, not something the world tries to force us to become.

        • Hey John, we may have a philosophical disagreement here (I believe that we exist to create ourselves, to realize our fullest potential; we define why we exist, no one and nothing else does that for us), but I fully agree that we need to focus on being who we really are instead of shaping ourselves in the image of what the world presents.

  8. thinking those “screw it” moments are already our internal decisions made but ones we may be too afraid to take action on . Then the inner voice prompts us to finally make that decision, thus the “screw it” momentum pushes us forward.

    • Our inner voice is a powerful decision maker and oftentimes makes the decisions for us long before we realize a decision needs to be made.

      I like to visual decisions as a standing at a crossroads. We can only see so far down each path, so worrying about what lies beyond what’s visible is pointless.

  9. Beautifully expressed! I’ve also struggled with perfectionism, I’m sure everyone has. Wanting whatever it is I engage in or create to be perfectly executed. But I see myself more as a student now, and see us all as students of life, so nothing I create or engage in will ever be absolutely perfect, but a learning process to be better the next time around. The more and more I do it, the better I can become. Like you said in another quote, ‘If you give up, time catches up.’

    No one is born an expert in anything, so ‘screw it’! Just do it. Another recent insight – ‘doing’ something is the exactly the same as ‘trying to do it’. I think culturally we’re brought up to think that in order to ‘do’ something one must be really good at it.

    • You’re right, ‘doing’ is the same as ‘trying to do it’. The difference is that we do one with confidence and the other with doubt, convincing ourselves that we might not be good enough.

      It’s like when we speak: We can doubt and question everything we say, frequently using words like “I think”, “maybe”, “I’m not sure”, etc., or we can simply state our opinion and have the confidence that we can, and will, evolve if our opinion changes.

      It’s a difference in living passively vs living actively. If we live actively, we will embrace and always be ready for change wherever and whenever it may come.

  10. 1998 I quit my job selling advertising for the local paper (started the job in 1997) and went back to my former boss. He said I could work there once again until I found “something better”. Here it is 2011, and I just settled for comfortable rather than moving forward….

    I need to go buy some new shoes and start climbing…

    Actually I need to buy some new shoes, mine are falling apart – 😆

    • What an incredibly relevant example, David! I think our jobs are the easiest place for us to get complacent and settle when we could be doing so much more by moving on.

      I’ve heard that the 3-year rule works rather well for this: Never stay at the same job for more than 3 years. If it’s a really good job and you’re still learning, 5 years is acceptable, but beyond that it will only serve to hold you back.

      It’s never too late to put on those shoes and start climbing. 🙂

  11. Too true Raam.

    “Good Enough” is ok as long as it’s followed by ‘for now’…

    We can always go back and work on our ‘good enough’, as long as we don’t settle for it.

    • Absolutely, Andrew!

      Time doesn’t settle. The universal constant of everything is change. Settling only leaves us in the past, while looking forward to something better leaves room for continued improvement.

  12. Hi Raam,
    Over time:

    I learned it is important to risk letting go something when it is ‘good enough, when enough is said or done, when pursuing the moment is no longer serving a higher purpose’.

    I also learned that it is important to ‘dig in my teeth’ into an experience and continue with it when I know the experience intuitively is part of a greater purpose (it has an impact beyond me).

    It is not always so clear when to let go and when to continue but by letting go either experience when I am in them often times I will be redirected to them by an event, by another person that occurs just after the letting go and I re engage.

    Indeed, I am forever working on re adjusting my path in little ways like a pilot in flight. Sure that is the beauty of life – learning!

    You know it is not so easy to explain these things. Bravo to you on your clarity of writing. I find it easier to speak about these things.

    Enjoy a wonderful day,
    David

    • Hi David,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and lessons. You’re an inspiration.

      I believe intuition plays a huge role in making decisions. When we’re in tune with ourselves and living in a state of clarity and mindfulness, our intuition is also clear and ‘in tune’, much like a radio broadcast that needs to be tuned to the correct channel before we can hear it.

      As with all things, tuning in requires practice. Accepting, as you have, that our life will be a never ending journey of learning, prepares us for the long road ahead.

      I find it troubling that so many people write off age as an excuse to do less. “I must be getting old”, becomes their mantra and excuse for doing less. With age we should be doing more, not less. Age brings perhaps physical limitations, but that should simply be a reason to look closer at ourselves, to continue exploring the vast universe within.

  13. Hi Raam,

    Great take away here, “Instead of settling for good enough, climb towards something better.”

    Life’s not about the destination it is about the journey. There’s never a good enough because over time it just becomes status quo. Limitless means without end.

    And so as we go through this journey experiencing achievements and reaching new stepping stones, new abilities and perspectives are the perpetual motivators to something greater, always.

    Cheers!

    • Hi Chris,

      I had not thought of ‘good enough’ in relation to the status quo, but that makes perfect sense. It’s through accepting ‘good enough’ that we create the status quo. If we’re always looking forward instead of settling for good enough, then progress itself becomes the status quo.

      Excellent point!

  14. Thank you! This is a great, short reminder to not get obsessed with perfection because well, the beauty of art is that it can never be perfect!

    • And I think it’s within each piece of art that we see a quest for perfection, a quest that we all know isn’t attainable and yet is attempted by the artist anyway. As you said, it’s important not to become obsessed with perfection but instead to recognize that beauty isn’t perfection, but rather the lack thereof!

  15. Hey Raam, Great post. It reminded me of the difference between settling for good enough and contentment. If we are always content in our circumstances, we will have the drive to fulfill our dreams. In other words settling is death, but contentment with hope brings life. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Hi John! Contentment is an interesting thing… I find that when I’m not settling and instead choosing to following my passions and my dreams no matter the risk, that’s when I’m most content. The feeling of contentment after selling all my stuff and traveling to India last year was indescribable.

      The closest I can come to a description was that I felt no fear of death, no sense of incompleteness. If I died the next day, I knew I would’ve died happy because I had answered my calling. (Of course a few months of traveling through India and witnessing all the poverty, led me to a new calling!)

  16. I had to read this a few times because I got kind of confused midway, but I agree. Settling for something is weak. When I settle with my writing, I usually throw it away instead of sharing it. When I feel good about something, I put it out there in hopes that I’ll make more things to feel great about.

    • That’s a great way of looking at it, Jonathan! If we make our reward system our own good work, then we can constantly build on our successes while also learning from our mistakes. The part I find challenging is viewing my successes as building blocks instead of competition!

Webmentions

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