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The Goal of Good Enough

Remember doing group projects back in school and, more often than not, one person would end up with most of the responsibility and would basically do the project alone? 

Somehow YNAB hired all of those people. 

And the result is workplace utopia. We have a team full of highly motivated, productive, goal-driven people who can always count on each other. It makes every day at work less stressful and more impactful. 

However, as a slightly-less-organized version of that, sometimes watching everyone around me in action can feel intimidating. 

Perfect example: Once Ben B. shared his Todoist set-up and it legitimately gave me an anxiety-induced stomachache for the rest of the afternoon. I barely know what day of the week it is and he has automatic reminders set up to wash his kids’ car seats every 100 days? And he actually does the stuff on the to-do list! 

It’s mind-blowing—so organized, so incredible and inspiring. 

In fact, I set a reminder on Todoist to clean the juice boxes and Goldfish crackers out of my backseat that very same day. Never mind that my youngest child is 15 years old. 

Anyway, my Todoist app will never be the masterpiece that Ben’s is, but my way works for me. 


Best Laid Plans 

With all of that being said, although I’m disorganized, I am a planner. I have to be in order to accomplish anything. And, let’s face it, there’s no better excuse to buy new notebooks and binder clips and colored pens and little Post-it note flags than the imminent creation of a shiny new plan. 

(No, none of the other empty notebooks or office supplies that I already own will work. Don’t be ridiculous.) 

One of my close friends and I have a system that we call “The Woman I Want to Be” (WIWTB) where we periodically review our goals and realign our priorities based on what the type of person we aspire to be would do. 

A WIWTB review involves a new planner, new office supplies, new daily schedules, new calendars, new routines, new goals for our homes, bodies, wardrobes, relationships, finances, careers, and personal lives; there are daily to-dos, must-dos, want-to-dos, cool-to-dos, one-year plans, five-year plans, travel plans, reading lists, shopping lists, and life goals. 

We’ve done this together and separately for close to 15 years now. The past versions of us would be impressed with where we are now and the present versions of us forget that all too often—because the person we want to be is always evolving and there’s always more work to do to grow into her. 

The beginning of a new year is my starting line for this exercise; my Super Bowl, my Olympic event. (Because much like using an old notebook, starting anything on any day other than the first Monday of a new year is just plain wrong.)


New Resolutions 

2022 was the first year I didn’t even attempt to come up with a list of life-changing plans. 

When we returned to work, everyone was discussing their resolutions. Ryan mentioned signing up for James Clear’s 30 Days to Better Habits email course. Casey said she was filling out the Monk Manual’s free resources. Rachel bought an Erin Condren planner (which made me immediately start shopping for planners, despite my resolution not to have a paper planner). I bookmarked all of that for later. 

But when it was my turn to share my New Year resolutions, I admitted to not having any. Not because I’m an underachiever and not because I didn't have goals, but because the real work right then was to accept that I was already doing the best that could reasonably be expected.

2020 and 2021 felt so difficult because I couldn’t always steer my own ship. The Woman I Want to Be was going to travel, meet new people, go on adventures, visit friends, save money, and get in better shape. The woman I am had to unexpectedly homeschool her kids, worked long hours from home, canceled vacations, watched a crazy amount of television, ate take out, filled an emotional void with shopping, got sick, and had a rough recovery. It was unglamorous, unproductive, unpredictable, unsatisfying, and yet…it was fine. Good, even.

It was not what I planned and not who I wanted to be, and yet, I’m proud of how it all worked out in spite of the circumstances. The Woman I Want to Be would approve.

And it turns out that my decision to take a year off of setting specific expectations resonated with many, even among those who seem almost super human in their aspirational abilities.

A New New Year

For 2023, the Woman I Want to Be had one goal: to be the kind of person who has a garbage disposal. It was the perfect plan—affordable, attainable, and it would make every day just a little bit easier.

Did I achieve that? Well, it depends on your definition of success. I would argue that wanting a garbage disposal makes you the kind of person who would have one.

In reality, I just forgot until the last minute. But I accomplished so many things that weren’t on my list, so many things that are far more noteworthy, so many things that align with the Woman I Want to Be. I’m counting it as a win, overall.

If you’re feeling a little less motivated to make new goals or resolutions right now, financially or otherwise, maybe the work is just to stay on the path instead of starting a marathon. Perhaps this new year is more about recognizing (and celebrating) where you are versus where you want to be. Maybe the work is to think about what the Person You Want to Be would do and start making small changes to your routine throughout the year; not in a pass/fail kind of way, but in a “small wins” kind of way.

The Person You Want to Be lives a healthy lifestyle? Cool. Go on more walks, try new fruits and vegetables, drink more water—just do a little better than you have before and the momentum will build as you go.

The Person You Want to Be enjoys the little things in life? Perfect! Start a new family tradition, catch more sunsets, try a new hobby, or start a gratitude journal—you could even buy a new notebook.

The Person You Want to Be is better with their money than you are now? Not for long. Cancel a streaming service, get quotes to lower your car insurance, plan a regular Money Night date with your partner, or add a few extra dollars to the monthly payments of a loan—little efforts add up.

You’ll get there eventually.

And “eventually” is good enough. Great, even.

Find your wins, no matter how small, and celebrate them. You're worth it.

If you do want to immerse yourself in an exciting new plan, consider our free Change Your Money Mindset workbook and email series! But you'll do great at whatever you choose.

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The Goal of Good Enough